Katherine MacAlister talks the British love of ballet with artistic director Sergei Bobrov

Relations between England and Russia may be frosty but for ambitious artistic director Sergei Bobrov politics are immaterial.

Responsible for bringing the Russian State Ballet and Orchestra of Siberia to the UK, his is a mammoth job, regardless of international relations.

But then having cut his teeth at the Bolshoi as a principal dancer and choreographer, he knew what he was taking on.

So what are his memories of his time with arguably the world’s most famous ballet? “The feeling that you are part of a great mechanism bound for success, which is how I feel when I’m working with the Siberian ballet,” he says before adding that his favourite dancing role was that of Rothbart, the evil genius in Swan Lake. Relishing coming to Britain every year, Sergei says that of all the European countries, we appreciate ballet the most.

“Britain is the country to which we return every year because the audiences always gives us a warm welcome” he explains. “The British love Swan Lake and The Nutcracker – these are the shows that people want to see every year.” The Snow Maiden is an extra addition then this year in the New Theatre’s upcoming line-up.

So as a former principal dancer himself, who understands the fears, challenges and apprehensions facing his dancers, what advice does Sergei give them before they take to the stage? “To dance well, not for the material benefits, but the experience,” he says. A former Bolshoi Ballet’s principal dancer and choreographer himself and Artistic Director of the Krasnoyarsk State Opera and Ballet Theatre since 2002, Sergei was born in Moscow in 1963 and is now well known as one of the most talented young Russian choreographers today.

Famous for his work ethic and drive, he sets an example to the young dancers in the ballet company, working from dawn until dusk every day to ensure that standards never slip and that the ballets shared around the world continue to inspire.

“I work with the team from 10am in the morning until the end of the evening performance or rehearsal. And then, while the ballet company rest, I need to work with the rest of the company because each performance requires very spectacular costumes and scenery.

So my workload is from morning until late evening.

This will be our 13th year touring in the UK so we are strongly attached to the tastes of the British audience. “ So does it get more frantic when the company are on the road? “During a tour everything is clear and calm. We come completely ready and my task is only to maintain the quality.

“However, the amount of performances we undertake are very big, compared to when we are at home in Krasnoyarsk, and it’s not easy.”

Of course many of the dancers have spent their whole lives preparing for the international stage and as few have hardly travelled at all find the ongoing tour extremely exciting. Even principle ballerina Anna Anna Fedosova has lead a relatively sheltered life up until this point. “I have not travelled much in my life,” she admits. “I think everything is still ahead of me. I visited Turkey and Bulgaria recently though and I had a great time there.”

Sergei agrees that touring is a fundamental stage in his ballerinas lives: “We bring our best dancers and young performers to the UK and it is amazing how many artists have actually grown during the British tours. Lots of our theatre stars came into their own during tours to Britain,” he adds.

Oxford Mail:

  • Giselle is one of the ballets being brought to the New Theatre 

Years in planning, each performance takes 18 months to bring to fruition, so what of the offerings this year?

“From the moment of conception of the idea to the realisation of the performance takes approximately one-and-a-half years. For example, the conversation about new ballet The Snow Maiden took place two years ago yet the premiere was only held in the UK in December.

So what is his favourite part? “While touring across the UK with a full company of dancers, and highly skilled musicians is always exciting because it is very special to have the power of a symphony orchestra bringing the choreography to life on stage. I am delighted to present my new staging of The Snow Maiden to new audiences for the very first time.”

As for the endless wanna-be ballerinas who will, no doubt, be flocking to see Sergei’s work for themselves, what advice would he give them?

“I would advise the young ballerina to be totally focused on the profession; to work hard and try to meet and work with masters.”

Where and when
The Russian State Ballet & Orchestra of Siberia brings Giselle, Swan Lake and The Snow Maiden to the New Theatre from Feb 22-24. 0844 871 3020 or