Rus­sia bal­let stars put in the leg­work

Cul­ture: Dance troupe on north-east tour aim to ‘bring peo­ple to­gether’

The Press and Journal (Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire) - - LOCAL NEWS - BY DAVID MACKAY

Per­form­ers from the Rus­sian State Bal­let have toured the north-east to strengthen links with Scot­land.

Last night the dancers put on a show in Spey­side to mark the 20th an­niver­sary of the con­nec­tion be­tween Moscow and the re­gion.

The bond was forged when short­bread giants Walk­ers funded the first High­land games to be held in the Rus­sian cap­i­tal.

Since then, diplo­matic re­la­tions be­tween the lead­ers of the coun­tries have be­come more strained. This week Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May ac­cused Vladimir Putin of try­ing to “sow dis­cord”.

How­ever, Vi­taly Mironov, pres­i­dent of Moscow’s Cale­do­nian Club, which has or­gan­ised the visit, be­lieves dance can help to “bring peo­ple to­gether”.

Mr Mironov, who is mak­ing his 90th visit to Scot­land, said: “I could shout in the street about it but peo­ple might think I’m mad. But we have the Rus­sian State Bal­let, quite fa­mous, and they can in­spire chil­dren all over Scot­land to be­lieve they can also be­come bal­leri­nas.

“Scot­land has ex­cel­lent folk mu­sic but not as much clas­si­cal art – bal­let is one of the purest forms. See­ing the Rus­sian State Bal­let will cre­ate mem­o­ries for chil­dren they will never for­get.”

Yes­ter­day, five soloists from the troupe, which in­clude Ja­panese and Amer­i­can dancers, per­formed a gala show­case to a packed au­di­ence at Spey­side High School in Aber­lour.

Ear­lier this week the bal­let per­form­ers were joined on stage by 50 young­sters, some as young as five years old, at Aberdeen’s Tivoli The­atre. Jim Walker, manag­ing di­rec­tor of Walk­ers short­bread, helped fund the first High­land games in Moscow in 1997 and is back­ing the group’s cur­rent trip, which also in­cludes Portree, Dundee, West Loth­ian, Fife and North­ern Ire­land.

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