When travelling, one always looks for a way to experience culture and heritage of a different country, one of the ways to do that is trying new cuisine. A national folk show is a great introduction to the culture of the country you are visiting. Russian Folk shows are always very dynamic and colourful. There are several places where you can enjoy traditional Russian singing and dancing, but the best St. Petersburg Folk show is “Feel Yourself Russian”, that takes place in the Palace of Grand Duke Nicholas.
A spectacular Russian Folkloric show in the very heart of St. Petersburg in the beautiful Nickolayevsky Palace is a way to plunge into Russian traditions, romantic Russian songs and sparkling dances, fascinating costumes and ambiance of a nobleman’s palace combined. One really feels what’s it like to be a Russian – a Russian nobleman, a Russian Cossack, a Russian singer – at least for the couple of hours spent here. The performance consists of two parts and features four different bands singing and dancing traditional pieces from different regions of our vast country. Traditional drinks and snacks are served in the intermission.
Russian Folk music is closely connected with the village traditions and daily life. It’s interesting though that authentic Russian music is vocal. Instrumental music for a long period was suppressed in Russia. In 1648 Tsar Alexey banned the use of all musical instruments: it was proclaimed they were from the devil. Some historians believe that jesters (in Russian called “skomorokhs”) singing disrespectful songs about the tsar to instrumental music could have served the real reason for the ban. True or not, but no instrumental music is used in Russian Orthodox churches up to nowadays. As for musical instruments symbolizing Russia – balalaika and accordion (in Russian called “bayan”) – strange as it may seem, but they appeared and were spread in Russia as late as second half of the 19th century.
Unlike instrumental music, Russian folk song was an integral part of daily life. It was sung literally from morning till night and reflected all the regular life events, parts of the day, seasons, joys and greaf.
Russian Folk dance has always been an important part of Russian culture. The first mentioning of Russian folk singing and dance dates back to as early as the 10th century. Certainly, these early dances were performed by commoners: the upper classes watched the performances rather than take part in the dancing.
The most famous part of dancing performances are so-called Cossack “prisyadki” (low squatting dance) in perfect synchronization. The other special part of traditional Russian dances are game dances. In such performances dancers imitate in a playful manner habits of animals and birds or natural phenomena.
The traditional Russian Folkloric shows are performed in stylized stage costumes based on authentic costume designs used in the village in old days, but modified for the stage use. Typically clothing for dances varied depending upon the events or holidays. Women wore beautiful holiday headdresses, embroidered shirts, belts and ornamented aprons. Men wore shirts, belts, narrow pants and high boots. Red colour was predominant in many costumes because it is associated with beauty in the Russian tradition and old Russian language.