Time for a lot of Russian about at Sheffield City Hall

Russian State Ballet
Russian State Ballet
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THE credit crunch may be old hat but there’s plenty more economic gloom to come.

So what better way to forget the real world for a couple of hours than by escaping into a world of grace and tradition created when arts funding was less of an issue.

Plenty of people do and that keeps Sergei Bobrov busy. He is Artistic Director of the Russian State Ballet, supplier of glorious distractions in our troubled era.

“People require something to love, an example of beauty and purity and clarity because there are so many things not pleasant to look at around us,” he concurs during a tour stop in Liverpool.

“In the theatres modern choreographers show ugly things sometimes so people always need something high in emotion and soul. Old classical ballets, especially those of Tchaikovsky, are very pure in the heart and soul.”

Of course, people go to ballet for their own reasons - to witness near perfect movement, to be removed to a magical place where dance is the language, or to observe a preserved tradition in uncertain times.

As a former principal dancer and choreographer of the world famous Bolshoi Ballet, it is all those elements Sergei seeks to convey when he brings his company and the Orchestra Of Siberia to the UK.

Born in Moscow in 1963, Sergei graduated from the Moscow State Choreographic Academy and joined the Bolshoi as soloist in 1981. Today he is regarded as one of Russia’s most talented young choreographers.

On February 6 Sheffield City Hall will see the Lilac Fairy battle with the evil Carbosse, set against Tchaikovsky’s sublime score in Sleeping Beauty. A week later it is off to renaissance Verona for a new production of Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet. Audiences will be treated to a lavish production with sumptuous costumes and large sets in keeping with what generations of Russians have enjoyed.

“For years ballets were not touched and were classical. Now everyone tries to change something to make it modern and put something new in.

“But time shows the classical production should stay in tact. If you put something new in it spoils it. I try to change only some dramatic scenes so I can make the performance look symmetrical. “Audiences now require beautiful music and dance, the warmth of the classical ballets. That’s what I notice.”

So what you see in Hull or High Wycombe will carry the same Bolshoi principles that seeped into Sergei’s blood during his time dancing and instructing there.

“I keep in my mind what is good and not good for theatre and I try to fulfil this here, to make my dancers look almost the same way as the Bolshoi Theatre, the same discipline. Many things I remember I try to execute here, the same kind of standard. It’s really hard because it requires the effort of many people, not only dancers, also musicians and artists who make sets for our productions.”

- For tickets, priced £13.50 to £30, ring 0114 2789 789. Both shows begin at 3pm.