Kostroma is a dance spectacular revelling in the history and culture of the Russian people. We asked producer and tour organiser Maria Veshkina to take some time out of her busy schedule and tell us a bit about what the show was about and what it takes to stage such a mammoth production.
“Kostroma is a very ancient city where we are located (where we were born as a company) and it’s the cradle of the Romanov dynasty – where they were crowned for the first time. It’s very beautiful, very traditional, very Russian and that’s what the show is about. The name represents the mysterious Russian soul and the spirit of Russia, and people remember the name very well. We want to talk about the Russian people, Russian tradition and Russian culture itself and that is why it is the very best name for the show.”
Using various forms of dance, Kostroma gives the audience a whistle stop tour of Russian history and geography. “We try to introduce the atmosphere of certain epochs and regions of Russia to the audience without the need to read text books. The first half gives you the feeling for the different stages that Russia went through to become the country it is now. Starting in the 9th century with the arrival of the Orthodox religion, we go through medieval times, the Cossacks, the Soviet era, and finish in the 21st century. The second part represents the geographical and cultural diversity within Russia.”
This is conveyed through a variety of dance forms. “A little classical ballet but the whole show is based on folk dancing. However it is in a brand new way that was created by our artistic director. It is something new, more than just folk dancing.”
Since it’s humble beginning in ‘91 – ‘92 with a small group of professional dancers, Kostroma has grown to a stage show involving 50 dancers, a dance company and an affiliated choreographic college. It is estimated that approximately 900,000 people have seen the show during its run. “Now we give 100 shows every summer in Moscow.”
The shows are elaborately costumed with hand made regional costumes, even drawing the praise of Pierre Cardin during it’s Paris tour. “We go through a lot of costume changes, in one dance we even change costume 3 times. A lot of work goes into costumes as they are all hand made.”
Yet the dancing is where the real effort goes in, 100s of hours of rehearsal even while on tour, the performers are so practised they can actually do their routines with their eyes closed, as they discovered during a power outage in Moscow. “The whole lights went off and the dancers kept on dancing. The could do that because of the rehearsals and their muscles remembered. After 15 seconds in darkness, the lights went on again and they kept on dancing like nothing ever happened.”
Kostroma is on at Crown Theatre for one night only on Wednesday, October 8. Book through Ticketek.