When you think of a Russian ballet, perhaps you conjure in your mind these stunning images of the Moriinsky or Bolshoi Ballets or dancers like Vaslav Nijinsky, Mikhail Baryshnikov or Anna Pavlova. The rich tradition of the Russian ballet directly influenced the classic Russian style of skating we now know today... and much of that is thanks to what was first known as The Leningrad State Ballet On Ice.
Founded in 1967 by choreographer Konstantin Boyarsky, The Leningrad State Ballet On Ice (which is now known as the St. Petersburg State Ballet On Ice) was an important effort to translate classical ballet to the ice, certainly a concept that was most famously later revived in the important work of John Curry. Boyarsky provided a vehicle for some of the most famous Soviet skaters to hone their art in the early history of the Ballet. Ludmila and Oleg Protopopov were among the Ballet's greatest stars, as later were Olympic Gold Medallists Alexei Ulanov and Lyudmila Smirnova, Irina Korina and Viktor Yelchin and Elena and Vladimir Bogoliubov.
Beginning in 1995, the Ballet began performing on the stages of opera theatres and has taken its show on the road everywhere from Portugal and Ireland to Colombia and Taiwan. It has adapted and staged some of the world's best known and most loved ballets including "Swan Lake", "Sleeping Beauty" and "The Nutcracker", with lavish costumes and the high level of skating to back it all up.
Interestingly, the Leningrad State Ballet On Ice was not the very first of its kind in Russia. Ten years prior to the Leningrad Ballet's formation, The Moscow State Ballet On Ice was responsible for the first professional ice show ever presented in the former Soviet Union. Today both ice ballets are owned by Hutchison Entertainment Group, the same company that represents stars like Sir Elton John, Dame Shirley Bassey and Barry Manilow.
To me, there's just something so classically beautiful about the fact this tradition is being carried on in present day. If you think about all of the wonderful skating shows that have been presented on theatre stages over the years and one by one fallen by the wayside, it is heartening that these efforts have endured. When Boyarsky and The Moscow State Ballet On Ice's founding choreographer Leonid Lavrovski first took on the daunting tasks of translating classical dance to the ice they were forging into new territory blindly and the tradition of this beautifully classical style so obviously influenced the coaches and choreographers of the years to come in realizing the aesthetic beauty of the marriage between dance and skating. To Boyarsky and Lavrovski, we can only say 'spaseeba'.
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