BUSINESS: Armstrong Auditorium Presents Swan Lake

The Russian National Ballet Theatre performing Swan LakeSwan Lake is considered the greatest classical ballet of all time. Seeing Tchaikovsky’s romantic tale unfold in its original form—as it did 137 years ago—mesmerizes audiences. The Russian National Ballet Theatre has not only preserved the original choreography and musical score, but also the historic sets and costumes. 

The Russian National Ballet Theatre is making its third visit to the Armstrong Auditorium on January 26th and 27th.  According to Shane Granger, Armstrong’s marketing director, the last two performances sold out, and the same enthusiasm is expected this time.

“People come back because the music is incredible, and the dancers have a level of perfection that is spectacular,” Granger said. “It’s also an intimate experience because the theater is small, with only 823 seats.”

With such a close-up view, the audience can appreciate the large backdrops, done in a Russian art style that is almost extinct. They are so beautiful and intricately made that the company is still using backdrops dating back to the 1960s. Some of the costumes worn on stage also date back half a century.

“They are trying to preserve them as long as possible, but they add new ones, too.” Granger said.  “I’ve seen the performers spray vodka on the costumes and steam them clean. It’s an old style of cleaning and preserving—so vodka has more uses than just for drinking.”

Granger has the privilege of seeing performers arrive, set up and tear down for shows, and he recalls the unique formula followed by the Russian ballet company. When the dancers arrive, they eat a light broth. Next, they warm up and practice their leaps and jumps. After the show, the performers and staff eat a heavy supper.

“Ballet dancers are petite and muscular, without an ounce of fat—but they consume an enormous amount of calories, so it’s interesting to see how much food they put on their plates.”

This particular touring group is committed to carrying on the traditional ballet of Russia, which was created back when Tchaikovsky wrote the original musical score and Marius Petipa choreographed the dances for Swan Lake.

“This ballet was written in Russia, by Russians, for Russians,” said Granger. “This is serious theater, fastidiously preserved, and beautifully executed.”

For ticket information, visit

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