Trans Siberian Railway: Going to the Ballet in Russia

If you visit Russia, then a must-see is the ballet. Russia has some of the most renowned ballet companies in the world. Seeing a ballet in Russia also comes at a fraction of the price of ballet tickets in western Europe or the U.S.

We had tickets to the ballet in Moscow as well as St. Petersburg. Since we were traveling through Russia in July/August, the ballet season had ended. We had also just missed the White Nights Festival which is a festival that happens in St. Petersburg as well as other cities throughout Russia which happens from May to the end of July. This is when the sun doesn’t set and the sky stays light, hence the name “white nights”. Celebrations occur all over the city and you can find a combination of classical music, opera, and ballet performances going on during this time. By the time we would be in Moscow and St. Petersburg our ballet options were pretty limited to very classical ballets like Swan Lake sine the summer ballet season is targeted towards tourists.

I did a lot of searching for ballet tickets online but all the tickets that I came across were ridiculously expensive. Many google searches later, I finally came across the Russian website Kassir, which is a ticket selling website for entertainment events throughout Russia and the prices for ballet tickets were way cheaper compared to the English language websites. English language websites had tickets that were at least $100 USD compared to Kassir which had tickets for as low as $20 USD. The entire website is in Russian but if you have some knowledge of Russian Cyrillic or Google Translate, you’ll be able to navigate the site.

The website is set up by events and cities in Russia. I narrowed my searches by city and then by event. To get you started, the Cyrillic for Moscow is Москва, the Cyrillic for Saint Petersburg is Санкт-Петербург, and the Cyrillic for ballet is Балет. If you use the Google Chrome browser, you have the option of having Google Translate, translate websites into your preferred language so I did that for parts of the website as well. And if you’ve ever bought anything online though, you’ll be able to get through the website pretty easily since this website isn’t much different than other e-commerce websites. The website accepts credit cards as payments and sends the ticket to your email. Then you just print out the ticket, and bring it to the theater.

We ended up buying our tickets while in Mongolia so about a month in advance and at that point, there were a lot of seats and shows that had already sold out. So if you want to see the ballet in Russia, I recommend getting them as far in advance as you can. We saw Giselle in Moscow at the Russian Academic Youth Theatre (RAMT), which is next to the famous Bolshoi Theatre. While in St. Petersburg we saw Swan Lake at the Alexandrinkskyi Theatre. Tickets for Giselle were 2,200 Rubles each and tickets to Swan Lake were 2,310 Rubles for your reference.

I love the ballet so I thought the experience was great both times but the performance in St. Petersburg was at a completely different caliber than the one in Moscow. The summer seasons are performed by different companies depending on the different day, time, and ballet. So that could’ve been the difference since the summer season operates a bit different than the regular ballet season, but the Moscow performance to me seemed like more of an amateur performance compared to Swan Lake in St. Petersburg which was AMAZING.  I’ve heard that St. Petersburg’s ballet companies are better than Moscow but I don’t know how much truth there is to that. In any case, I don’t regret seeing Giselle in Moscow or Swan Lake in St. Petersburg. I do however wish we were a bit more strategic about our seats at the ballet. Our seats in Moscow were great and we had box seats in St. Petersburg which were also amazing but we had chosen second row box seats which made it difficult to see past our first row box mates. Also, if we had the opportunity, I would’ve loved to see more ballets as well as an opera or classical music concert.

So there you have it, go see a ballet in Russia. Russia has a very rich cultural and artistic heritage so if you have the opportunity, don’t miss out on events like these.

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