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RUSSIAN COSSACK STATE DANCE COMPANY
 [ version française ]
 
The sensational Russian Cossack State Dance Company are widely acknowledged as Russia's premiere Cossack dance troupe. This world-class company of 40 dancers, musicians and singers brings with it a dynamic and breathtaking production, that will both dazzle and delight  theatregoers through amazing feats of highly skilled, acrobatic Cossack dance !

Love, dedication and enthusiasm for their unique cultural heritage is the driving force behind this exhilarating company who, dressed in spectacular costumes, performs an exciting two-hour programme of music and dance that portrays all the boisterous courage of the Cossacks, through a kaleidoscope of sound and movement. They retell tales of battle, glory, love and betrayal through inspired dancing and thundering rhythms. The Cossacks of Russia were legendary horsemen and warriors, but it was really through their music and dance that they unleashed their relentless energy and passion for life and freedom.

Renowned for their strength and athleticism, the Russian Cossack State Dance Company dance with vigour, sparkle and spontaneity, but behind each performance lies many hours of strenuous rehearsals and strong self-discipline, all under the watchful eye of their Artistic Director, Leonid Milovanov. It is the dedication to professionalism in performance, and to perfectionism in costume, music, in fact every detail, that has brought the company their continued success and international acclaim.

Unrivalled in their field, the Russian Cossack State Dance Company captivate audiences with the ultimate in folklore presentation. Theirs is a truly remarkable performance, rich in energy, passion and excitement, that will leave lasting memories of a truly remarkable evening's entertainment. 
Previous  appearances by the company include the Edinburgh Festival and Military Tattoo in August 2001, and a season for Sadlers Wells in London during February/March 2002, as well as a performance televised by the BBC.

Now the opportunity presents itself for audiences in other countries to see this remarkable troupe perform on stage.
 


MEMBERS OF THE COMPANY

LEONID MILOVANOV Artistic Director
Leonid Milovanov is the Company's artistic director and conducts the Company's rehearsals. Leonid is also a respected authority on Cossack history and folk culture. He aims to evoke through dance a sense of the values the Cossacks hold dear such as Courage, Dignity, Love and Justice. Leonid founded the Russian Cossack State Dance Company in 1990 and he continues to oversee all artistic input throughout the show.

SERGEI KAKOVKIN Musical Director
Sergei leads the company's orchestra and coordinates with style and passion the eclectic mix of instruments such as the balalaika, horns, trombone and accordion utilized in Russian folk art. He is an accomplished accordionist himself and has long been involved in recreating traditional Russian music for theatrical productions.

GALINA MILOVANOVA Principal Vocalist
Galina has traveled extensively researching and embracing Cossack history and brings to the vocal company a unique style and authentic interpretation of traditional Cossack tunes.

SERGEY TERTYCHNYY Principal Male Dancer
Sergey hails from the Stavropol region, close to the Kuban river, home of the Kuban Cossacks. In his performance Sergey wears traditional Kuban costume which was originally developed to enable the Cossack soldiers to perform riding tricks to outsmart the enemy. Sergey incorporates these moves and tricks into his dazzling and acrobatic routines.

NATALIYA POTAPOVA Principal Female Dancer
Nataliya has been dancing professionally for many years perfecting both ballet and Cossack dance. She is amazingly adept at bringing to life the lyrical and comic set pieces performed in the show. No audience can fail to be moved by Nataliya's skilful and expressive interpretations.


THE COSSACKS

For English-speaking peoples, perhaps the Cossacks should be thought of as frontiersmen, the equivalent of Daniel Boone, Davy Crockett and their like. Even better, consider the Cossacks as the equivalent of Elizabethan seadogs, sailing together in a rough and ready manner, often ignoring the letter of the law in their quest for adventure and gain. Here, we have to make the great rolling steppes the equivalent of the vast oceans. A contemporary of Drake and Hawkins was Yermak, penetrating deep into Siberia as they roamed the seven seas.

The word kazak originally meant nomad horseman, or "freebooter". From the time of Genghis Khan, mounted bands had been roaming the undulating plain to the north of the Caspian and Black Seas. From the fifteenth century onwards, the Moscow Grand Dukes are known to have hired some of them to protect the southern and eastern marches against their kinsmen and other invaders.
But the Tatar Cossacks were soon joined by vast numbers of runaway peasants from Muscovite Russia and Polish Ukraine. They were hunters, fishermen and pastoralists by day and remained ever ready to take up arms for a sudden raid or a longer campaign. Placed between the Tsar's dominions and the Ottoman Empire, the Cossacks often fought for plunder and tribute, and began to enter Russian service on a more frequent basis.

They developed their own society. The krug or circle can not exactly be called an embryonic parliament, but problems were solved and decisions taken through talking them over rather than by in-fighting. Powerful leaders soon rose among them. The Cossacks were male chauvinist in the extreme, they certainly didn't give women a voice and often looked upon them as dispensable. An extreme example of this is the story of the seventeenth-century leader Stenka Razin who was criticised by his followers for keeping to himself a captured Persian princess. To demonstrate his egalitarian sensitivity, he threw the unfortunate woman into the Volga.

The Volga and other waterways were important arteries of communication, sources of sustenance, and providers of refuge. The Zaporozhian settlement on the Dnepr was one of their first fortresses, colourfully caught in the epic canvas of llya Repin, depicting members of the 'circle' writing a mocking letter to the Turkish Sultan. Later, groups of Cossacks were formed on the Don, the Volga and further afield, eventually even in the Far East along the Amur and Ussuri running into the Pacific Ocean. But they were 'riverdogs' rather than "seadogs".

The Don Cossacks declared 'We fight for the House of the Immaculate Virgin and the Miracle Workers of Moscow and for thee Sovereign Tsar and Grand Prince of Great and Little and White Russia, Autocrat and Possessor of many hordes. They insisted that "we serve for grass and water, not for land and estates", rejecting settled agriculture as the mark of slavery. "Our dear, glorious earth is furrowed not with the plough, but with the hoofs of horses" runs one of their songs. But their service was supported by an annual grant from Moscow consisting of flour, cloth and munitions which reduced their independence. And as they became more incorporated into the framework of the state, the rough equality of the "circle" was replaced by more regular ranks. Peter the Great himself appointed the ataman or commander. Such incorporation was too much for many of the Cossacks to bear, and there were several large-scale revolts in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

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