The renowned Moscow Stanislavsky Ballet will make its UK and London debut at the Royal Festival Hall this Christmas. The company will present two Tchaikovsky ballets, The Snow Maiden (pictured) and Swan Lake, with the latter opening the venture on 20 December 2001.

The Snow Maiden will commence from 4 January 2002, with a 140-strong company on display for the tour. The Stanislavsky Ballet was formed in 1929 by former Bolshoi star Victorina Krieger, and has performed to wide acclaim ever since. With a team of 90 dancers and its own orchestra, the company will appear under the choreography of Vladimir Bourmeister.

The Snow Maiden is a ballet in three acts, with the score featuring highlights from Tchaikovsky's Symphony No 1 and String Serenade. The story concerns the beautiful and innocent Snow Maiden, who is protected from the outside world by Father Frost. Based on a traditional folk-tale set in rural Russia, the tale follows the Snow Maiden into the colourful and tempting betrayals of the human world.

Swan Lake is arguably the most famous and also one of the most frequently performed works in the international repertoire. Taken from a French version of a German tale, this 1953 four-act work portrays the wicked magician Rothbart. He transforms Princess Odette into a swan, and only a man who will fall in love with her, and be truly faithful to her, can save her.

The Stanislavsky Ballet will be presented by Raymond Gubbay, thus representing the third consecutive Christmas collaboration between the Royal Festival Hall and Raymond Gubbay. Stanislavsky recently enjoyed a highly acclaimed season in New York, and tickets for the London dates are available now.

- by Gareth Thompson