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How the Russian Ballet Stole My Heart

25th July 2018

A recent trip to Russia has caused me to dust off my dreams of becoming a ballerina. I only ever dabbled in leotards and pliés as a child, but even a rookie knows that Russia does ballet best, so catching a performance at St Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theatre was a must-tick item on my bucket list.

The Mariinsky Theatre St Petersburg

It was a treat just to walk through the doors of the sea green Mariinsky Theatre. The auditorium is everything you could ever want it to be. Green velvet, white sculptures and gilt embellishments adorn every available surface, and a magnificent chandelier glitters seductively in the frescoed vault of the ceiling. I sank back into my velvet seat and imagined sharing air with 1900s Russian nobility, until my attention was stolen the moment the ballet began.

The Russian Ballet

Words can’t describe the perfect synergy of elements that combined to deliver the Mariinsky Theatre’s production of Romeo and Juliet. I’m no show buff and I’ll admit to becoming bored in musicals, but I adored every moment of the ballet. Of course, everything at the Mariinsky is top notch. A jaw-dropping orchestra, eye-popping sets and show-stopping dancers all need to be experienced to be believed. Throw in Prokofiev’s score, which even I recognised in parts, and you have a show that overwhelms the senses with beauty.

Romeo and Juliet

Watching Romeo and Juliet told through ballet was as thrilling as discovering the timeworn tale for the first time. Words are the love of my life, but the emotions the dancers revealed through movement were potent enough to bring my heart to my throat.

I gained new appreciation for Romeo and Juliet’s tender years, which made the tragedy all the more devastating. I don’t have sufficient ballet vocabulary to describe how Juliet danced her bubbly adolescence and heart-rending grief to life, but it was as clear to me as if I’d read her diary. Romeo was dashing, but also painfully conflicted. Somehow, these dancers made me experience the total agony of being a teenager in love against the odds.

Although I experienced the tale of the star-crossed lovers as if for the first time, it wasn’t their struggles that made me cry. Everything was so divine that it filled my heart to a point where something just had to escape.

How to get tickets

St Petersburg celebrates the deliciously long nights of high summer with the White Nights Festival. The world’s best performers dazzle crowds with concerts fit for a tsar, and the uncontested highlight is the Stars of the White Nights – a series of shows at the legendary Mariinsky Theatre. The playbill for the Stars of the White Nights is released anytime from March to May and demand for tickets is fierce. Ask your travel adviser to pre-register for notification and don’t be fooled by third parties claiming to have a jump on tickets.

Tickets are not cheap and if you have your heart set on the iconic Swan Lake you may be disappointed, but I promise the feeling won’t last long. I wasn’t expecting to cry my eyes out and certainly didn’t predict that I’d be warming up for a beginner ballet class three weeks later. But such is the nature of bucket-list experiences – they leave their mark on your soul.

If you are looking to tick off an experience as unforgettable as the Russian Ballet off your bucket list, talk to a Travel Associates adviser today.