Hello! I would like to welcome you to St. Petersburg and tell you a little about myself. I am British and first visited St. Petersburg in 1991 (when it was still Leningrad!). I am a former ballet dancer and have danced in many theaters in St. Petersburg. Since hanging up my pointe shoes, I have been a tour manager for Russian ballet companies visiting the UK, whereby I acted as Russian/English interpreter for theater and company directors and artists as well as medical staff. I have worked with the Marinsky (Kirov) Theater in St. Petersburg, the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow and the Royal Opera House in London. I studied Russian at the University of Westminster in London and took the course at the St. Petersburg State Polytechnic University which you are taking. Therefore, I know the teachers and course very well!I hope you all enjoy your stay in “the Venice of the north.” St. Petersburg, formerly Leningrad until the end of communist rule in 1991, is a city with extraordinary cultural resources.
St. Petersburg was strategically founded by Peter the Great in 1703 in order to serve as a “window into Europe”The years of communist rule left their marks on this historic city, until it was rebuilt during the post-war years. St. Petersburg reflects an array of architectural styles; the imperial palaces, famous art museums and ballet performances best display the city’s history and culture.
St. Petersburg is the most European of Russian cities. It still retains many of the baroque splendors of the former empire: more bridges than Venice and a fairy-tale atmosphere of gold domed churches, elaborate palaces, and riverside parks. Emperors and empresses entertained in the lavish winter palace and it is here that Dostoevsky wrote his greatest works, that Pushkin fought the duel that ended his life, that Shostakovich composed his first great symphony and that Lenin began his political career when his brother was hanged by the czar. One of the greatest art collections in the world is preserved at the Hermitage -where you can volunteer! Whether it is history, the arts, literature or politics you are looking for, St.Petersburg has it all.
Kathryn Alcock, Resident Director for AIFS St. Petersburg