We were treated to two contrasting cultural experiences on our visit to St Petersburg at the end of our waterways cruise - the ballet and cossack dancers.
When offered the chance to see a performance of Tchaikovsky's ballet Swan Lake performed in St Petersburg, we expected a really special experience. Unfortunately, what we got was a very substandard company of dancers who wobbled a lot and even looked into the wings when something fell over there. The plot was opaque and it even had a happy ending - apparently decreed by Stalin in the 1930s. Although it was an interesting experience, as a newcomer to ballet I was very disappointed, as were the ballet enthusiasts amongst us.
We had noticed a large marquee in the car park close to where our boat was moored, and on the final night of our holiday we found out what it was for. A company of Cossack singers and dancers performed traditional songs and exhilerating dances for us. They were professional and extremely entertaining so it did not matter at all that the whole performance was in Russian. Unlike at the ballet performance, we were permitted to take video and photographs, though the speed of some of the dancing defied still photography.
Beautiful love songs . . .
. . . and vigorous dances
The whole emsemble is watched by an enthralled audience