In late September, as one of the SRAS Cultural Excursions, our group went to see the ballet “Snow Maiden” (“Снегурочка”) at the Kremlin Ballet (Театр “Кремлёвский балет”). This ballet is performed in two acts to a music score by 19th-century composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky (Пётр Ильич Чайковский). Andrei Petrov, Kremlin Ballet founder and Artistic Director, adapted the ballet’s original libretto and choreography.
Andrei Petrov founded the Kremlin Ballet in 1990, right before the breakup of the Soviet Union. Ballet greats such as Soviet ballet dancers Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev became active members in the company’s creation. It was never a goal of the Kremlin Ballet to compete with the Bolshoi Theatre, but merely to exist as its own, special entity within the same city.Vasiliev brought his ballet Macbeth to the company, and it became the company’s first staged production. The company has performed such pieces as a new rendition of Cinderella, a ballet based on the famous Russian tale Ruslan and Lyudmila, a ballet-chronicle entitled Napoleon Buonaparte, which recounts Russian and French history, many stage-creations of literary works by Nikolai Gogol, a ballet version of Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, and many more. The company has also performed such classics as Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, Swan Lake, Coppélia, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Halte de Cavalerie and Esmerelda. Over the years, the Kremlin Ballet has received outside assistance in building its repertoire; from 1999 to 2007, former long-time Bolshoi Theatre Artistic Director Yuri Grigorovich staged Romeo and Juliet, Ivan the Terrible and Le Corsaire. The company has also recently revived works by esteemed, early-20th-century Russian choreographer, Serge Pavlovich Diaghilev (Сергей Павлович Дягилев).
The Kremlin Ballet performs on the stage of the State Kremlin Palace, located within the walls of the Kremlin itself. It was build in 1961 to house meetings of the CPSU (Communist Party of the Soviet Union), (КПСС (Коммунистическая партия Советского союза)). The venue can hold 6,000 people, and has one of the largest stages in Europe, which today is the site chosen for a large array of cultural presentations from ballets and operas to concerts and fashion shows.
Our group saw a matinee performance for the ticket price of 800 rubles (covered as part of our included Cultural Program). This got us a seat in the middle of the first balcony, called the Ampitheater, (Амфитеатр) section. However, there were so few audience members in the theater that it was possible to move to the middle of the orchestra, where seats are much more expensive, without taking anyone else’s seat. As a New Yorker and former ballet dancer, I have gone to many ballet performances and Broadway shows – many of them matinees. Never have I seen a theater as empty as the State Kremlin Palace was on that day. This could have been due to the fact that this was a matinee performance, which often tend to be less popular than evening performances. It could also have been due to the fact that the theater itself is so large (because it was originally created for the purpose of housing all of the world’s most prestigious members of the CPSU) and therefore may never be completely full, or to the fact that the world famous Bolshoi Theatre sits almost down the street and steals the hearts of Moscow’s ballet fanatics. Whatever the cause, the result was utterly astonishing, especially since the quality of dancing at the Kremlin Ballet is unmatched by many ballet companies around the world.
As a rule of thumb, food and drinks in artistic theaters are always very expensive, so one should usually try to plan to eat or drink enough before or after the show. To access the State Kremlin Palace, one must take the red metro line (Сокольническая линия) to Biblioteka im. Lenin station (станция Библиотека имени Ленина), exit and walk to the Kremlin. One must enter the Kremlin through its main entrance at the northwest Kremlin wall, and then simply walk along the designated pathways to the theater. One can purchase tickets online or at the ticket office, which is open from 12:00 to 20:00 seven days per week, just outside the main Kremlin entrance, at Vozdvizhenka Street, building 1 (ул. Воздвиженка, д. 1).
State Kremlin Palace
ул. Воздвиженка, д. 1 (Box Office)
Box Office Hours: Every day from 12:00 to 20:00
Performance Times: 14:00 and 19:00 depending on the day
Cost: 500-800 rubles per ticket, minimum
Julia Diamond graduated from Boston University in May, 2014 with a Major in International Relations and a Minor in Russian. She is currently interning at PIR Center in Moscow and studying Russian Language with SRAS at MGU. She hopes to eventually obtain a dual JD/MA degree focusing on international law and security studies, and eventually helping to form international nonproliferation/arms control policy. She is seen here on a balcony of the Roman Coliseum.