On our second last evening in St Petersburg, we had a night at the ballet. It was a private show for those in our Scenic Tour group. It lasted for just under an hour and included about ten short pieces ranging from excerpts from Swan Lake to Don Quixote. One number was focused on ‘The Dying Swan’ (Trina, take note!) The eight dancers in the ensemble were accompanied by a twenty piece symphonic orchestra.
I cast my my mind back to the days when Cathy was a little girl and learned ballet at Box Hill. Each year, we went to the annual concert. The older amateurs in that suburban group generally clumped their way around the stage and while thoroughly enjoying themselves, they were not easy to watch for a long time. These dancers were semi-professional and could do quite a good frappe and plie. Some were pirouetted very enthusiastically by their male partners as they stood ‘en pointe’. (See, I can still remember some basic terminology, so those days of watching Cathy were not at all wasted).
The ballet here was held in a classic style of building that was once the Palace of Prince Vladimir ( a nobleman and minor royal). The Palace was the last Imperial palace to be built in St. Petersburg and was a gift to the Prince for his coming of age.
When we arrived, we were treated to a glass of champagne and hors d’ouvres in the very splendid oak room with its chandeliers and ornately carved features. It had numerous paintings on the walls that showed Russian fairy tales.
The palace is perfectly preserved. During its role as one of the major centres of Russian cultural life, the residence was filled with precious art collections, which are now housed in the Hermitage Museum. The ballroom is now used as an auditorium for events such as this. For many years, the palace has been the home of the Russian Institute of Scientists.