A group of dancers in the Russian city of Perm have completed one of ballet’s most difficult moves — spinning round 32 times on one leg — to show their backing for the divisive new film Matilda, which portrays a love affair between ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya and Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II.
A short clip published on the Instagram page of the Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre dancer Anna Poistogova featured her and four other dancers performing 32 fouettés on stage as snow gently falls from above.
Kshesinskaya was famous for being the first Russian ballerina to master the complicated move, which was later incorporated into many 20th century ballets, including performances of Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake.
Alexei Uchitel’s film Matilda has faced harsh criticism from hard-line nationalists and some Orthodox believers in Russia. Although most people accept that the affair happened, they maintain its depiction in the movie has been distorted and that the portrayal is vulgar.
The Bolsheviks murdered Nicholas II alongside his family in 1918, and the Orthodox Church canonised him in 2000.
Poistogova wrote “MatildaYES” under her Instagram post.
Director Uchitel, who has received death threats, has been backed by many leading cultural figures in Russia and top officials have called on law enforcement bodies to protect the cinemas where it is due to be shown.
Two cars were set on fire earlier this week outside the office of the attorney for Uchitel and signs reading “burn for Matilda” were reportedly found near the scene. Last month, assailants tried to set fire to Uchitel’s film studio.
The film will be released in Russia later this month.