Ball honours Old New year

The beautiful tradition of a New Year’s ball came to life at the Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre on the evening of January 13th-14th
By Yuliana Leonovich

The theatre hosted this dancing marathon for the fifth year. This time, I dressed, powdered my nose and went to personally enjoy the party. I really wondered what its organisers would invent to entertain men and women of fashion for almost seven hours.

The first cars approached the theatre around 90 minutes before its official opening. Scooping their many-layer skirts, women hurried to the cloakrooms and the ladies’ room to correct their make-up and hairdo, surrounded by mirrors in a men free environment. Actually, the mood of the ball presupposes that each of its participants is in full dress. This year, even journalists followed the dress code, leaving their 2013 jeans and pullovers at home. My colleagues were unanimous in agreeing that they’d come to the theatre to work rather than to be entertained. Accordingly, they chose formal dress, while accompanying photographers put on tuxedos and bow ties. “It’s not very convenient but it’s necessary. This is a ball!” photographer Gennady smiled.

The holiday’s concept remains unchanged — to welcome in the Old New Year jointly with the artistes. With this in mind, the party was impressed with classical music, bright crystal chandeliers, thematic parties, sparkling champagne and gallants. This ball is an honourable duty for the Military Academy cadets and a pleasant pastime for lonely girls. Actually, this is a kind of ‘brides fair’ as ladies enjoy every chance to find their love here.

Cadets Denis Zakharenko and Roman Cheshun were taking part in the party for the second year. They admitted that it’s really easy to get acquainted with a girl here; they simply need to ask her for a waltz or mazurka. A well-known song works at the ball perfectly ‘according to the statistics, there are nine guys for every ten girls’. Accordingly, there are fewer chances for young men to get the gate. But the lucky guys willingly get acquainted with girls they like, and numerous stories of happy couples are known at the Academy. “Last year, our fellow student got acquainted with a girl here and they are likely to get married soon,” whispered Denis.

Cadet Sergey Nikiporchik and his girlfriend Natalia have known each other for a long time. Sergey had invited her to the ball, where he danced polka and country dance last year. Pleasingly, Natalia agreed eagerly, “This is a wonderful opportunity to vary our routine, while reviving old traditions… and putting on an elegant dress.” The lady admits openly that she’s borrowed her ivory white dress from a friend, as it’s too expensive to sew a special dress for the occasion.

At 9pm, the party was launched to the accompaniment of Tchaikovsky and Shostakovich and flowing dresses. I had no time to be bored. Detached and taciturn Andrey, a five year student at the Military Academy, asked me for the first waltz. Dances came one after another, with ladies and gallants interchanging. Steps and breath quickened, skirts and shawls were sweeping and hairdos were beginning to lose their initial sheen. Suddenly, the participants make it worse. Over 150 pairs began dancing the Polonaise, Mazurka and Polka and there was no more empty space left in the hall. Actually, it was no surprise as, every year, an increasing number of people, wishing to contribute to the revival of dancing traditions, are registered. Director Galina Galkovskaya agreed, “Sadly, we lack enough space. However, it’s hardly possible to shift our event to a new venue, the New Year ball is our theatre’s symbol and brand.”

Thematic zones were arranged for all those who want to take a break from the dancing. A cardboard Johnny Depp and George Clooney invited anyone to take a photo with them (although even now, I still cannot understand this Hollywood duo’s relation to the Belarusian New Year ball). The historical section allowed anyone to check their heritage and see if they belonged to the nobility, while The Future Salon and its fortune teller were a true hit.

At 11pm, the theatre gave a musical present to its guests. The artistes dressed and made-up as global stars to congratulate all those present for the coming of the Old New Year. Among them were Freddie Mercury, Mireille Mathieu, Montserrat Caballй and Nikolay Baskov.

When the clock started chiming twelve, each guest received a glass of cold sparkling Sovetskoe champagne. Congratulations, wishes, embraces and kisses continued at the theatre cafй. At around 1 a.m., most men and ladies hurried home, a working Tuesday was soon to begin. However, some of the most persistent guests continued dancing and celebrating until 4am, when the magic of the New Year night faded away.
We’ll definitely meet again in a year. So long!
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