Russian State Ballet’s Nutcracker at Coventry Belgrade

Alexej Ignatow

Fairytales, romance and festive magic are promised as Russian State Ballet return to the Belgrade Theatre, Coventry this weekend. Beautifully reimagined by award-winning former Bolshoi Ballet soloist Konstantin Uralsky, a spectacular trio encompassing Swan Lake, Giselle and festive favourite The Nutcracker will be accompanied by the sumptuous sound of a live 30-piece orchestra.

Ahead of performances in Coventry, we spoke to Russian State Ballet and Opera House producer Alexej Ignatow about his work with the company.

How do you start your day?

I would like to say I start my day with a nice cup of coffee and reading a recent newspaper, while listening to classical music… but this would be too obvious and not true!

In a more relaxed period, when there is still plenty of time before the start of the tour and we are less worried about last-minute preparations, it would be more steady start to a day having breakfast with family before everyone disappears in different directions.

When we are on tour, then each day and morning is the same. We wake up, have a quick breakfast at the hotel and get on the road to the next theatre.

What’s your favourite ballet?

Here I must admit, I am very conservative and currently enjoy more the mainstream titles. Maybe it’s the case that I’ve seen Swan Lake and The Nutcracker a million times, but all these somehow feel more related to me. I enjoy much more the individual takes that one production offers as compared with another – the small details right one might not see right away, but suddenly understands a bit later.

Do you have much personal involvement in your productions?

As we do work with established Russian State Theatres, we tend to rely on their vision and ideas. Having said that, we still actively participate and get involved in guiding the theatres when it comes to brand new productions.

In the UK, where we tour our productions, the audience appreciates and understands the more traditional productions better. Therefore, it’s very important to us that the visiting theatre is in full awareness of this and fully responds to the needs of the UK public.

How did it all begin and what did you learn from the first tour?

It all began in autumn 2006, when we brought the Russian Cossacks to the UK for the first time. This was a great learning curve. You can never imagine and account for all the things that can happen when you are on tour. The best lesson most likely was to be flexible and be able to quickly adapt to situations!

How long have you been touring the UK and how many productions do you stage every year?

We have been touring the UK now for over 11 years. During this period, we have organised over 25 tours of ballet and opera productions, equating to over 1000 performances. In 2018 we will be presenting over 140 performances across the UK.

What are the highlights of the new tour and what can audiences expect?

This season we will have three ballet productions – Swan Lake, The Nutcracker and Giselle – all three of which are eternal ballet classics with beautiful sets and handmade costumes. It should be a wonderful evening out and a feast for the eyes.

What makes you excited about classical music?

Classical music is timeless! When performing operas and ballets, it is always exciting to imagine the time when the music was composed, and how it’s still so relevant and enjoyable today. I don’t think people will ever get tired of listening to classical music.

Tickets are still available to book for Saturday’s Nutcracker (shows at 2pm and 7.30pm) now by calling the box office on 024 7655 3055, or visiting