The cast of Moscow City Ballet will be celebrating the Russian Orthodox Christmas when they appear in The Nutcracker at Sheffield Lyceum next Tuesday.
Although life on the road isn’t particularly suited to the usual traditions, Moscow City Ballet do try and celebrate the occasion.
The repertoire helps the dancers get into the festive mood, particularly when performing The Nutcracker – with its large canvas Christmas tree on stage and festive dance scenes and characters, it always brings joy to the company and audiences alike.
Away from the theatre, most dancers go to great lengths to decorate their hotel rooms.
It may only be for one night but they do make sure each is a night to remember. Small portable Christmas trees are popular, while tinsel and decorations soon bring a plain hotel room to life.
The Russian Orthodox Christmas is celebrated on January 7, when the company is performing at the Lyceum.
Prima ballerina Yulia Zhuravleva said: “Christmas and New Year is a special time for all of us, MCB is like a close family with good friends and personalities.
“We buy each other token gifts, hold small parties in our hotel rooms and enjoy good food and company.
“This season is our busiest, so we make the most of it, we are ballerinas and love to dance which we are fortunate to be able to do daily.”
For the last 25 years there has been hardly a single occasion when Moscow City Ballet has been at home in Moscow for Christmas, as it’s the busiest time for theatre-goers.
For the last few years, Christmas and New Year has fallen during their European tour, the first leg of which culminated with a performance at the huge arena in Vilnius, Lithuania on New Year’s Eve.
Russian New Year is a far bigger event than Christmas and celebrating this occasion on the road by, for example, preparing a New Year meal, requires skill and ingenuity.
The traditional favourite, Olivier salad, known in the West as Russian salad, is a must.
Cooking is normally not permitted in hotel rooms but some dancers have ‘hotel friendly’ tiny portable electric stoves to boil some eggs and prepare their dinner.
But by far the most important ingredient for a great New Year’s Eve is good company. Luckily, this is in abundance with a touring company of 50.
Singing and dancing along with a bit of pantomime is guaranteed, so the entertainers keep themselves well entertained.
At the stroke of midnight, the champagne is consumed in moderate quantities, the night is still young and festivities normally extend into the early hours of the morning.
In the morning the company get back on tour, this year flying back to the UK to start the second leg of the tour tomorrow in Cambridge.
The Nutcracker is at the Lyceum from next Tuesday to Saturday. Tickets from the Crucible box office, online at www.sheffieldtheatres.co.uk or by calling 0114 249 6000.