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tidbits from my St. Petersburg trip

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I am posting this, since it doesn't quite fit into another topic on Ballet Alert, but I thought it would interest many people. I wanted to mention the ballet-related sights or exhibits I saw during this July 2013 trip.

Kschessinska's mansion is a political history museum (many of you probably know this already). The mansion itself is a wonderful example of Art Nouveau or Style Moderne. So architecture lovers will enjoy visiting it. Also, history buffs will love to see the balcony where Lenin gave his speech. Currently, there is an exhibit "Fouettes of Fate" that is in one room and includes many rare photos from Kschessinska's life. The only other rooms you see are the White Hall and the entry foyer. So there isn't much to see, but I think most ballet lovers would enjoy it nevertheless. Her mansion has been joined with another mansion (by building a very modern building that joins them both) to create the museum of political history, and I personally found the rest of the museum not very interesting, but history buffs might enjoy it. To me the majority of the museum feels contrived and a real stretch at making it worthwhile for a visit. Maybe history people will disagree with me. The only part I loved was seeing the outside of the mansion, and the couple of rooms that were in Kschessinska's home. I post this info so you can decide if it is worth visiting or not. I enjoyed it. But it is not a museum I will likely ever visit again.

Nevsky Monastery and Cemetery: Tchaikovsky's and Petipa's graves are here, so go!!!! Someone left a tiny ballerina slipper on Petipa's grave! Other graves include Glinka's, Mussorgsky's, Rimsky-Korsakov's, Dostoevsky's........the cemetery has lots of trees and the tombstones are actually beautiful in many cases, so it is a nice, calm walk. I recommend this. It is a pilgrimage of sorts.

Sheremetev Palace: some fascinating violins and variations on violin instruments on display. A violin that belonged to Glinka is on display. Only a few rooms are available for viewing, and if you only have one visit to St. Petersburg I think this can be passed up because Peterhof, Pavlovsk, and the Catherine Palace are must see palaces.

Alexander Golovin exhibit at the Russian Museum. This only lasts until September 2, 2013. It included his well-known paintings of Chaliapin as Boris Godunov and as Mephistopheles as well as many stage designs and even his original design of the Mariinsky's stage curtain.

Mikhail Chemyakin's exhibit "Pavements of Paris" at the Marble Palace (on the Neva river) will be over on August 5 (in a few days), but it is an interesting exhibit. The ballet connection is that he created the Mariinsky's new avant garde Nutcracker, and I have to say that I feel this exhibit of his "Pavements of Paris" (unrelated to ballet although some ballet characters in his works in this exhibit) help me to see him as a true artist. He took images he found on the sidewalk and turned them into figures and it was amazing to see the picture of a crack in the ground and what he ended up painting from that image. He also took pieces of discarded paper/trash or leaves and then painted with that shape and made it into a figure. The same twisted type characters that appear in his designs for Nutcracker are in these works also (not the same exact characters but the same style). Beyond this exhibit the Marble Palace is worth a visit simply to see the gorgeous staircase and the Marble Room that is amazing!!!

Circus: I was snapping pics of myself in front of the gorgeous Circus building because it is the fanciest circus I ever saw (looks like an opera house), and I noticed people with children going inside. I thought the shows were only at night, but it was the weekend so I went in and caught a matinee. It was a cross between Cirque du Soleil and a circus. Lots of dancing and acrobatics, clowns, animal acts, etc. But why I post this is that many of the dancers/acrobats had the same flowing arms and upper bodies that Mariinsky dancers have. I am wondering if the Vaganova graduates who did not get into a ballet company or left the academy before finishing end up working for this circus.

My hotel was right around the corner from the Mariinsky, and I saw several dancers and coaches talking with friends or eating dinner or walking past.

There are so many things to see in St. Petersburg, and I saw much more, but those are the things that I thought might be of interest to other ballet lovers.


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I don't know if there's a pathway from the school to the circus companies, but I do know that people who are training in circus skills get a big chunk of ballet training following a Russian syllabus.

(not sure what's up with the formatting here -- the software insists I write the comment before the quote)

I am wondering if the Vaganova graduates who did not get into a ballet company or left the academy before finishing end up working for this circus.

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Thanks, Sandik! That explains it! I never saw acrobats/dancers in a circus have such artsy upper bodies! So that explains it!

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