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What to see/do for dancers in Russia??


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We've just come back from a cruise round the med which was great.  


My ballet-mad oldest dd now has her eye on a cruise next year which goes to St Petersburg.  It actually looks very interesting anyway, starts in Copenhagen and visits other interesting places along the way.


So my questions are - how can I find out what ballet-related things there are to do and see in St Petersburg?  Would a day there be enough?  Are there other places in Russia which would be good to visit?

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Oh well, don't forget that there is a wonderful dance tradition in Copenhagen too! Depending on when your cruise is, there may be some RDB or other performances on, or there may be something on at the theatre in the Tivoli Gardens.


Copenhagen is a wonderful city!

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St Petersburg is a wonderful city and deserves at least five full days to even scratch the surface.


The problems with cruise ship visits there (and I speak not from personal experience but from observing tour groups from the ships and from hearing about things from people who have visited on cruises) include the following:


  • lack of time; the ship needs to be there for two days (including an overnight) if you are to get to a ballet performance
  • the cruise ship port is rather outside the city and, unless you take one of the ship's own tours (which seem fine and include a lot of choice), you have to find your own transport to the sights
  • if you want to travel ashore independently you need to check with the cruise company that their visa arrangements will cover you; (most don't unless you are on one of their group city tours and you will therefore have to apply for a visa yourselves as well)
  • being sure enough of the ship's arrangements before you book for a performance; (both the Mariinsky and the Mikhailovsky have easy to use websites for online booking and you need to look there, not at booking agencies, some time ahead)
  • the somewhat tacky performances, usually of Swan Lake, that pop up all over the city to cater for summer tourists and really need to be avoided
  • the fact that, unless you have contacts, it is difficult to visit the Vaganova School, alas

That all sounds somewhat negative, I know, but I can't get enough of the glorious place. Its delights are mainly historical and cultural but, ballet apart, youngsters love going to the top of St Isaac's Cathedral (for the views) and riding on the canal boats. So, if your ship in only there for the day, you might like to try a tour arranged by the cruise line which includes these things.


By the way, the overall itinerary for the ship sounds great - enjoy!


Of course, another approach might be to take a two-centre tour to St. Petersburg and Moscow. You would then be able to go to performances by the two ballet companies mentioned above and also to the Bolshoi and the Stanislavsky in Moscow. Bliss!

Edited by capybara
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If you do get chance to go to Moscow (though it is a bit of a trek from St Petersburg so will depend on how long you are there), here is a dancer's perspective on what is good to see while you are there:




Also Margaret Willis has written an article in this month's Dancing Times called A Tale of Two Cities which focuses on ballet in both St Peterburg and Moscow:




You cant actually access the article through the link or on line but there is a summary and the full version in the magazine itself, of course!

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