Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Big Ballet returns as gracious as ever to Birmingham's Alexandra Theatre

20 Stone Russian Ballet Stars tour UK after three-year hiatus

The world famous alternative Russian ballet company, The Big Ballet – where the dancers each weigh a slightly lighter minimum of 15-Stone – are returning to the UK this spring for their third stage-tour of the country, comprising a staggering 39-dates

The Big Ballet has recently been forced, for the first time ever in its 16-year history, to lower its strict minimum weight requirement from 17-Stone, back to the original requirement of 15-Stone, due to a surprising drop in the average weight of auditioning hopefuls

Comprising 16 female dancers The Big Ballet has toured the UK twice before, in ’07 and ’08, at a time when the average weight of the dancers stood at a fraction under 20-Stone. The minimum weight of 17-Stone was so strict, a principal dancer with the show, Tatyana Gladkih, was even temporarily excluded from participating in pre-tour training sessions after dropping beneath the minimum requirement in 2008

The Big Ballet UK Tour Producer Alexej Ignatow, for Amande Concerts UK, comments “While many of the original dancers are retained for the forthcoming tour, open auditions regularly take place in Russia; events which were initially so heavily oversubscribed with potential dancers weighing the original required minimum of 15-Stone, that the level was actually raised to 17-Stone. However, the number of hopefuls weighing 17 Stone has dropped significantly in the past two years, coinciding with sustained global campaigns for healthier eating, perhaps most notably spearheaded by celebrity chefs such as Jamie Oliver”

Dion Clements, publicist for The Big Ballet UK tours, adds “It should be remembered that the returning dancers continue to retain their weight despite vigorous fitness training and rehearsal sessions, as well as highly demanding tour schedules, suggesting that certain dancers’ genetics influence their size. The longer-standing members of the troupe have always maintained they eat as healthily as the average-sized person”

Alexej continues “The new weight requirement will not really affect the show, only bringing it back in alignment with creator Panfilov’s original vision”

The Big Ballet was established sixteen years ago by top Russian choreographer, Panfilov. As a young man Panfilov had secured his position as one of the most influential choreographers in ballet. Never one to shy-away from controversy, he decided to prove two things to the world; firstly, that people of larger build are able to move with similar grace, dignity and flare as traditional dancers, and secondly, that he would be able to create a professional ballet troupe from dancers with no previous experience.

Hailing from Perm, a beautiful city with two million inhabitants in Russia’s Ural Mountain range, also home to two of ballet’s pre-eminent geniuses, Peter I. Tchaikovsky and Serge Diaghlev, The Big Ballet was formed by Panfilov to challenge social standards in a world where slenderness and beauty seems obsessive – in testament to Panfilov’s achievement, The Big Ballet continues to be a massive success long after his murder in 2002

The Big Ballet is performed on a black-box stage, with hand-made costumes. The first section of the show is a parody of popular classical ballets. The second section is rather more fast-paced as the larger-than-life dancers perform to more contemporary music, such as Robbie Williams, Tom Jones’s ‘Sex Bomb’ and (continuing the Russian theme) ‘Go West’ by Pet Shop Boys, and even perform to one ‘number’ in silky, buttock-less outfits.

The 39-date UK spring tour will perform at the Alexandra Theatre, Birmingham, on Wednesday, 13 April – to book tickets, contact the Box Office on telephone 08448 472302 or, for more details, visit

Dates in the West Midlands

MARCH 2011

Sun 27 Theatre Severn SHREWSBURY 01743 281281

Tues 29 Swan Theatre WORCESTER 01905 611427

Thurs 31 Garrick Theatre LICHFIELD 01543 412121


Fri 1 Garrick Theatre LICHFIELD 01543 412121

Wed 13 Alexandra Theatre BIRMINGHAM 08448 472302

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