Dancers in north-east in bid to strengthen links with Scot­land

The Press and Journal (Moray) - - FRONT PAGE - 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 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

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