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?
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.
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Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday.
That’s pretty amazing.
it’s easy enough to see their feet moving in the refection and shadows on the stage.
awesome illusion of this stellar TROUPE
Of course their feet is moving. They are dancing not levitating. Geeez…
This has been a part of Chinese Opera for centuries. The Chinese Opera is much different than western opera, which focusses predominantly on the music, and the spectacle of the production. CO does have some singing, but also includes highly athletic balancing, juggling, and acrobatic elements, as it is, still, the most popular form of popular entertainment in China. Nearly every major city has its own CO company, which produces year-round, often telling traditional stories, that have been around, also for centuries.
Examples are easy to find through Wiki, Goog, youtube, etc.
They are great. Not sure what the relationship is between these dances and the ones from Georgia and
/or Ossetia- probably very related. A friend of mine found out that he has roots in Ossetia and showed me these dances, ancient origins.