Anybody who knows anything about ballet — or let’s be real: anybody who’s seen Black Swan — knows how difficult everything from first position to fouette can be. Which raises two important questions in light of these clips of Russian folk dancers: how exactly are these dancers pulling off this stunning feat of trompe l’oeil and how much pain are they managing to smile through while doing so? Because this “floating step” move they’ve mastered looks surreal and also extremely tough on the ol’ wigglers.
This particular group of dancers is one iteration of the Berezka Ensemble, which, according to Oddity Central, was set up in 1948 by Nadezhda Nadezhdina. Oddity Central notes that the Berezka Ensemble (which may also go by the name of the Little Birch Tree Choreographic group) has become a pillar of Russian cultural identity, mostly famous for its floating step. Although the troupe has also apparently been to over 80 countries and “covered over 47,000 dancing kilometers, through their signature step.” The circumference of Earth, for reference, is 40,075 km (or about 24,901 miles).
The floating step was invented by Nadezhdina herself, and it’s a part of all of their shows. Obviously the effect of the dancers moving on their toes, coupled with the long dresses (which look pretty Handmaid’s Tale-ish), makes it look like the all-female troupe is gliding across the floor, frictionless. To achieve this effect, the dancers are bouncing from toe to toe inside of their pointe shoes. Both dancing on pointe and pointe shoes are quite painful, as this video explains:
Oddity Central claims that the dancers who learn the floating step are sworn to secrecy, although the troupe’s “incumbent leader” (as of January, 2012), Mira Koltsova, says that “‘No one is required to pledge secrecy, of course, [because] it’d be silly.'” Koltsova has a point, especially when taking into consideration this high-def clip of the dancers doing their thing while wearing dresses that are just short enough to show off a slice of the painful toe magic.
What do you think about these Russian folk dancers and this floating step? Stay on pointe and give us your thoughts below!
Images: YouTube / MrKrolik