A troupe of fat Russian ballerinas is to tour Britain, proving you don't have to be thin to be nimble.
The Big Ballet Company was founded in Perm in the Ural Mountains in 1994 by the influential choreographer Evgeny Panfilov to challenge preconceptions of who can dance, and prove grace and nimbleness are not the sole preserve of the thin.
Although the company trains daily, none of the members is a fully classically trained ballet dancer. They are not ballerinas run to seed, but all were large from childhood and chosen for the company in their teens.
Katya Yurkowa, the Big Ballet's dance captain, said: "We eat normal amounts of food, and the same food, as everybody else; our size is in our genes. We had the opportunity and, under one of the world's leading choreographers, we gained the ability and confidence to take to the stage and show we are as good at professional dance as thin people."
Their show, which opens in Hull on 27 February and will tour to nearly 30 venuesy, is largely comic, Mr Ignatov said. "Their slogan is, 'You don't have to take life seriously'. And although the girls themselves are overweight, you have cute faces in front of you."
"It's actually surprisingly easy to do the splits" says troupe leader Katya Kurkowa .... " when you have 280lbs of downward force !"