The Unique Culture Behind Russia's Famous Berezka Ensemble

Since making their debut in 1948, Russia’s Berezka dancers have performed enough steps to cover 29,000 miles, which is more than the earth’s diameter. Despite drawing crowds in over 80 countries for nearly 75 years, not one of these steps has ever been witnessed by an audience. That’s because beneath the floor-length skirts of the dancers, their feet are moving furiously, they audience sees none of it. The dancers move in very small steps on very low half-toe with the body held in corresponding position, which makes them appear to be floating. The visual effect is a closely guarded secret invented by the troupe’s founder and original choreographer Nadezhda Nadezhdina, who was an alumna of Russia’s famous Bolshoi Ballet. With performances scheduled for every month of the calendar year, the Berezka dancers remain a rigorous element of Russian cultural life.