Russia is famous for many things, and one of them is ballet and beautiful ballerinas. Initially, ballet in Russia was introduced when Peter the Great in the 17th century wanted to challenge the west by proving that Russia could be competing with the ballets of France and Italy. Today over 300 years later, Russian ballet is known worldwide, and each year draws people from all over to the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow and the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. What is more, ballet in Russia is at the heart of Russian culture and is favored by most Russians who see it as an important part of their identity. Beautiful Russian ballerinas are followed on social media, and little girls in Russia dream about a career as a ballerina at one of the famous theaters. Ballets like Swan Lake, The Nutcracker, Romeo and Juliet, and The Sleeping Beauty are notable Russian ballets that play for full houses not just in Russia but all around the world. Even during Soviet times, the Russian ballet managed to survive when the communist party banned many other cultural institutions.
In contrast to western ballets, the ballets in Russia are seen as an amazing blend of classical ballet and Russian folk dance tradition, with roots back to the 17th century where Peter the Great wanted ballet to take over from Russian folk dance. Thus, by experts, ballets in Russia are perceived to have a deeper and more profound spirit than western ballets. It is said to bring the character of the Russian soul to the dance, making it more captivating to watch. At the core of it all, we find the beautiful Russian ballerinas who demonstrate perfection and skill with their amazingly flexible bodies. With over 200 dancers at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, where most are women, you find the biggest company of dancers anywhere in the world. And thus the biggest number of ballerinas, who have worked hard to get there. Most ballerinas in Russia started practicing from an early age, spending many years growing better and better, hoping to become the next prima ballerina.
However, for even ballerinas in Russia, life is not always a dance on roses. After its renovation and reopening in 2005, the Bolshoi theater was hit by a string of scandals that got worldwide attention. From corruption to sex scandals involving the theater’s ballerinas who accused the theater management of forcing them into prostitution, as they felt pressed to sleep with donors and other VIPs on behalf of the theater. Today the Bolshoi Theather has new management and is supposed to be run professionally by its ballet director Makhar Vaziev. Yet, Russian culture has always been prone to scandals and corruption, so time will tell if the work conditions for the Russian ballerinas have radically changed for the better. Besides, one could argue that ballet in Russia uniquely reflects the character of the Russian woman, the combination of hard work, pain, and beauty. If you would like to know more about the characteristics of Russian women, you should check out our article on the characteristics of Russian women, which you can find here.