The Russian Ball Albert Hall

Nina

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For the first time since 1921 Venski Bal Moskva announced  the arrival of the Russian Ball to London’s Royal Albert Hall. The Russian Ball brought royal tradition spanning over 200 years straight to the heart of London. The glamourous traditions of the Ramanov era were thouroughly enjoyed by the guests. From the imaginative culinary dishes to the stars of Jazz: Igor Butman and Semen Milstein all added to the ambience. Evgenia Viktorovna Obraztsova Prima ballerina of the Bolshi Theatre was spectacular and our favourite in this star-studded evening, further embellishing the contributions of Russian’s artists.

A-Listed interviewed debutante couple, Niina Golikova and AlexanderSidukov to find out more about their Russian heritage and taking part in the Russian Ball.

 

 

Tell us about where you grew up?

Ninna - I grew up in Estonia, in a small town called Sillamae. Today Sillamae is a strategic trading EU port, the closest to Russia.

Alex - I was born in Novosibirsk – the capital of Siberia, Russia. Graduated from Gymnasium at 10, with a Gold Medal and moved to the UK to do A-levels at Hurtwood House. Later, I acquired a Bachelors degree in Economics from the London School of Economics (LSE).

 

Who or what influenced you mostly to pursue your passions in life?

Niina - My parents – especially my Mum. They gave me strong values and taught me to see beauty around the world and create it, as well as to help other people.  Literature, music, art and dance teachers also had a great influence on me.

Alex - From my early years I was surrounded by a cultural and business environment, which undoubtedly has shaped my views, outlooks and the love for new challenges. Nevertheless, I have always had strong support from my family and good relations with my friends. Perhaps, that is why I have developed persistence, courage and the ability ‘to think outside the box’, while at the same time staying friendly and caring.

 

 

What are you currently studying and why?

Niina - I am studying Economics & Finance at London Metropolitan University – I finish my degree in February 2014, so not long left. The knowledge obtained while studying gives me a very good understanding of the mechanisms of how society and politics work, as almost everything is based on the mutual gain that countries, companies and people get from economical cooperation and trade, supply and demand motivations. 

Alex- Currently, I am doing a Masters in International Business (MIB). I chose this course because I have sufficient academic/theoretical background – thanks to LSE! I now want to focus more on applied skills that I can use in my future career. In my free time I like to go climbing, do fencing and play volleyball. Recently, I have started playing the violin.

 

 

How important is the Russian Ball in terms of cultural value and tradition?

Niina - I think it is very important. The Russian Ball is a charity event that is dedicated to the celebration of 400 years of the Romanov dynasty that ruled the Russian empire in the past. The population of Russians living in London has significantly grown in the last few years hence there is a great need to preserve our rich Russian culture, history, traditions and values and to give it to future generations. I do hope it goes on to eventually become an annual tradition. 2014 has been named the “UK-Russia Year of Culture” so the Ball is a good start for creating a positive image of the Russian Federation and breaking stereotypes of Russia as an aggressor, which have long been held by western society. Of course there are many disputes, controversial points of views on the last few decades of Russia’s political and economical activities, but I hope that the Russian Ball in London is one of the many steps that will contribute to and stimulate further progress and positive changes in Russia.

Alex - Very important! I do believe that promoting Russian history through such events will not only bridge the gap between our countries, but also will give a different perspective at some turning points in history. Besides, a Ball is a wonderful and a bit magical fairy tale that anyone, despite their age, can dive into. My parents will also come to the Russian Ball. They, by the way, have been engaged in ballroom dancing for many years and have been at the Opera Ball in Vienna – this is still my dream!

 

 

Castings for the coveted debutante positions are known to be competitive. What skills helped you get through the audition process?

Niina - According to tradition, it is stated that "a debutante must be a well-educated young person with pleasant manners and physical appearance". I guess I possess all the necessary qualities! In addition, I have been dancing since I was eight years old and I am capable of performing a variety of styles.

Alex - All the skills that I have developed from my past experiences have helped me. Being a quick study and having natural curiosity are definitely amongst the top ones. Also, I think it is great when a man knows how to move gracefully. Dances, especially the waltz, certainly contribute to this.

 

What does it mean for you to be a debutante?

Niina - I am proud and excited to be the debutante at the First Russian Ball in London. I can sense it is going to be a magical evening. For me personally it means connecting to my Russianness, my roots, supporting my culture and meeting great people. Nowadays it is harder to consider oneself belonging to one certain culture, not only when you are born in multicultural family, but also after living for a while in a foreign county, which can often change people's mentality and values. Strict categorisation by nationality is rapidly vanishing, but we still have more or less the same Slavic genes and roots that unite us.

Alex - It is an invaluable opportunity to be a part of. However, it is also a great responsibility both in terms of dancing and social skills.

 

What are you most looking forward to on the evening?

Niina - Generally, I just want to enjoy the Ball in every way possible! The Royal Albert Hall is a beautiful setting, there will be joyful people in attendance, and music that takes you to fairytale world where you can dance, dance, dance… I can't pick one certain thing that I’m looking forward to the most – I look forward to enjoying the Ball as a whole. But I do hope that apart from fulfilling our duty of making this ball full of youth and beauty we will also have time and opportunity talking to great and good guests who will be attending the ball! I was asked a very provocative question during a radio Voice of Russia interview last week – if I am looking for a husband, as traditionally Balls are organised for these purposes 🙂 I laughed in reply. It will be wonderful to fall in love with someone first, before thinking about husband.

Alex - After so many hours of constant training I am really looking towards our debutante dance. It will be a great ending of this incredible experience. Or, maybe, the beginning of something new – who knows!

 

 

What is your most valued or inspirational quote?

Niina - Man is an architect of his own happiness, says my Mum. I say - If you want to see the future, invent it.

Alex - Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!' – Audrey Hepburn

 

In 5 years’ time you will be…?

Niina - I will be working in the culture sector and will have many interesting projects, which will hopefully be useful to people as well. "What kind of projects?" -you'll ask. Well, it is a secret at the moment. Everything comes in its own time.

Alex - A powerful leader (whether in politics or business) and a great example for future generations.

 

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