RUSSIAN STATE BALLET VISITS MORAY
Dancers in north-east in bid to strengthen links with Scotland
Performers from the Russian State Ballet have toured the north-east to strengthen links with Scotland.
Last night the dancers put on a special 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 fight back to “bring people together”.
The Highland games athlete has pointed to centuries old connections between the nations, which both have St Andrew as a patron saint.
Mr Mironov, who is making his 90th visit to Scotland, said: “It looks like people want to divide us. In some ways, they are quite successful.
“I strongly believe each individual person can do something to bring people together. 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 leading 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
“I believe each individual can do something to bring people together”
highland games in Moscow in 1997 and is backing the group’s current trip, which also includes performances in Portree, Dundee, West Lothian, Fife and Northern Ireland.
He said: “Vitaly has always had a huge passion for Scotland. I visited the Highland games he organised and it was a very special occasion.
“I value my long friendship with him – he has as big a passion for Scotland as anyone whom I have ever met.”
GRACEFUL: The Russian State Ballet performed at Speyside High School