Finding Nemo

Monday, April 18, 2016

Russian Ballerinas!!

The massive Mariinski Theater in St Petersburg
St Pete isn't just about glorious palaces and mind-blowing churches. It's also about glorious mind-blowing Russian ballerinas! I was guttered that I hadn't managed to make my way into the world-famous Bolshoi theater in Moscow. So it would take a bare-chested Putin riding a tiger to deny me entry into the (not quite) as-famous Mariinski in St Pete. A tip to the Russian backpacking novice: these theaters are INSANELY popular with both tourists and locals alike. Russians love ballet like the French love Nutella. Which, if you don't know, is like how Americans love guns. They hug them and squeeze them and ... oh wait, where was I?

The "Putin riding things" meme is endless fun. And did you know Bear-Sharks are surprisingly furry?

Lao Shen is the relatively unknown Vodka Dragon and actually has 7 nesting dragons inside

It looks so cute until it pees on Ukraine
Every show, afternoon and evening, for the entire week I was there was sold out. I nearly cried at the ticket office. The old babushka behind the window looked at me and asked where I was from. I told her California.

"California! American!" (This was before Putin's recent anti-American propaganda campaign.) She tapped on her computer a bit. And then, "For You. Ticket to Swan Lake tonight. You can go?"

"Da!!" In her outstretched hand, there it was. A golden ticket.

Now, there are basically three classic Russian ballets to pick from.

1) The Sleeping Beauty, composed by the rockstar himself Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky in 1890,
2) The Nutcracker, also by Tchaikovsky in 1892, and of course
3) Swan Lake, by (take a guess?)           ... Tchaichovsky in 1895.

So getting a ticket to one of the Big 3 is quite nice. And unless you hate music itself, getting a chance to listen to a god like Tchaikovsky performed live is always a treat. But to hear his music in Russia?! Now that is like giving a dog a whole bag of Beggin' Strips. I couldn't wait.

The glorius Mariinski interior. Foto by Albert Knutsson
Swan Lake is classic story about how an evil dark princess/Voldemort/Vader secretly plots to take over power from the good prince/Dumbledore/Skywalker. Ha! Are you kidding no one cares about the plot. It's just a joy to watch the lithe dancers glide about the stage like actual flying swans. Fantastic. Mesmerizing. Wonderful. It is striking how wispy and thin they are, like the stalks of a dandelion. I couldn't help but think of the price they paid to be on that stage. They were insidiously, beautifully perfect.




Tchaikovsky realizing he forgot to record the new episode of "Game of Russian Thrones"
Leaving the golden Mariinski after the show

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