Watch Russian Dancers Appear to Float Magically Across the Stage: A Mesmerizing Introduction to The Berezka Ensemble

As the Rockettes are to legs, Russia’s Berezka Ensemble, above, is to the seeming absence of them.

There are certain similarities between the two troops. Both are composed exclusively of young women in peak physical condition. The choreography and costuming dazzle by way of uniformity. So many girls, all doing the exact same thing at the exact same time!

(On a personal note, no one expects the Rockettes to out-feminist Barbie, but they could do a better job at diversifying their annual Christmas Spectacular cast’s racial make up—unlike the city in which it takes place, that kick line’s mighty white.)




The Berezka Ensemble, aka the Little Birch Tree Choreographic group’s wholesomeness is more in keeping with the Waldorf School. Their costumes are maidenly folk art affairs—much better suited to twirling birch branches than their American counterparts’ snug sequins…

But on to the signature moves…

To master their famed floating step, the Berezka Ensemble’s dancers’ submit to a training regimen every bit as grueling as the one the Rockettes undergo in pursuit of their synchronized eye-high kicks.

The floating step was invented in the 40’s by company founder Nadezhda Nadezhdina, and enjoys a mystical reputation, despite various how-to videos floating around online.

Conspiracy theories abound. What’s underneath those hooped hemlines? Roller skates?

Motorized heelies?

A hidden track?

Calves of steel, as it turns out. A rehearsal video reveals many, many mincing steps, taken en demi-pointe.

But what really sells the frictionless illusion is the dancers’ placid above-waist facades, which one YouTube commenter aptly compared to ducks gliding about on a pond, their feet paddling furiously just below the water’s surface.

A recent LED-enhanced performance, below, shines some literal light on the fancy footwork.

via Nerdist/TwistedSifter

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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Follow her @AyunHalliday.


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