The first time I saw the ballet in Minsk was a performance of Romeo and Juliet in 1994. I was visiting Minsk in a previous life as a lawyer, and the ballet was the big attraction in town. In fact, it was pretty much the only tourist attraction in town at the time, except for oddballs like me who were into Soviet architecture and the minutiae of post-Soviet life. And Minsk was pretty hardcore Soviet. In many ways, it still is, as I discovered when I went back again this year. But even for an oddball, the ballet was a more than welcome break. Sovietness is interesting for a while for those of us lucky enough not to have had to actually live in it, but escaping from it is even nicer. Which helps to explain the big attraction of ballet in Soviet times.
Minsk's University of Culture is an unusual institution - one of the few places that you can obtain a degree in ballet. What the dancers there do on stage is fantastic, but I wasn't there to record it. Certainly not this time anyway - I was in Minsk for Old New Year when there wasn't an enormous amount of dancing going on anyway. And photographing dancing has limitations - actually watching the performance itself is probably more interesting than looking at a photo that just records a pirouette.
I'm interested in what makes these amazing people tick - how they live, how they train, what the environment they grow up in looks like. What life looks like for a ballet dancer beyond the glamour of stage. The photographer is a kind of entymologist, and ballet is a particularly interesting window into the Belarussian, Ukrainian, Polish, Russian anthill.