Siberian dancer Dmitry Sobolevsky may be just 26, but his grace, elegance and athleticism make him a natural choice for the lead roles in the upcoming ballet The Nutcracker.

The principal dancer of The Russian State Ballet of Siberia returns to Oxford this week to deliver the classic works with its breath-taking physical ability and beautiful costumes, as each storyline unfolds to the live accompaniment of the orchestra.

The company comprises over 40 dancers and 30 musicians, so it’s an enormous touring endeavour.

Throw in the company’s determination to modernise, by merging traditional and digital worlds with an imaginative staging set against an ever-changing colourful backdrop and magical special effects, and you’ll realise just how much effort is being ploughed into these productions.

But then it’s about more than prestige for these Russian ballerinas; it’s about reputation and pride in an art form which is revered in Russia above and beyond the norm.

As Sergei Bobrov, Artistic Director, puts it: “It is always a pleasure to bring the unique traditions of Russian Ballet to British audiences.

“Touring across the UK with a full company of dancers as well as highly skilled musicians is always exciting, for me.

“It is very special to have the power of a symphony orchestra bringing the choreography to life on stage.”

No pressure then for the young Dmitry Sobolevsky? He shrugs.

Extensive touring and frequent visits to the UK’s stages since 2010 mean that he’s a veteran when it comes to showing us how it’s done.

“I have performed with the Russian State Ballet in the United Kingdom in 2010 and 2011. I also performed as guest soloist with them in 2012 and 2015.

“But I love British audiences because while they are quite demanding, they are also grateful and knowledgeable.

“Your audiences note inaccuracies in the performance, but they always appreciate good dancing.” Who knew?

Having only been dancing since the age of 18, Dmitry is also a great advocate for the ‘it’s never too late’ camp.

“I was born in the Siberian city of Norilsk in 1991 and only started to dance at the age of 18 when I graduated from the Krasnoyarsk State Choreographic College,” he tells me.

“I started as Principal Dancer with the Krasnoyarsk State Ballet (the Russian State Ballet of Siberia) in 2010 and from 2012 I became a Principal Dancer with the Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet.”

He was then poached by the very ballet company where he first started off The Russian State Ballet of Siberia, coming full circle.

“I know! Now I’m performing with the Company where I started my career. But I’m delighted because I love the company’s warm and composed atmosphere of performances.”

In Oxford at least, Dmitry will be performing The Nutcracker, the most famous of fantasy ballets which begins as night falls on Christmas Eve.

As snowflakes fall outside, the warm glow of the open fire sends flickering shadows across the boughs of the Christmas tree and all the presents beneath. When midnight strikes we are swept away to a fairy-tale world where nothing is quite as it seems: toy dolls spring to life, the Mouse King and his mouse army battle with the Nutcracker Prince and we travel through the Land of Snow to an enchanted place where the magic really begins..

“I love performing Prince in The Nutcracker. I love giving joy and take children to the magic world of their favourite fairytales,” Dmitry says.

His fans will be packing the aisles, alongside numerous wannabe ballerinas. So what would he say to his young proteges? “My advice is very simple: dance for your pleasure to make an impact on your audience.”

At 26, Dmitry obviously has a long and varied career in front of him, so what are his own goals? “I haven’t conquered my Everest in the ballet yet, but I have enjoyed working with Ji?í Kylián in Petit Mort, Sleepless and Wings of Wax and with John Neumeier in Tatiana, which both had a big success.

"So I look forward to the future while enjoying every minute on stage in the meantime.”

* The Russian State Ballet of Siberia come to the New Theatre Oxford from Jan 8-10

* The Russian State Ballet of Siberia come to the New Theatre Oxford from Jan 8-10