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

Relat­ed Con­tent:

Watch an Avant-Garde Bauhaus Bal­let in Bril­liant Col­or, the Tri­adic Bal­let First Staged by Oskar Schlem­mer in 1922

Watch a Step-by-Step Break­down of La La Land‘s Incred­i­bly Com­plex, Off Ramp Open­ing Num­ber

Sta­tis­tics Explained Through Mod­ern Dance: A New Way of Teach­ing a Tough Sub­ject

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

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