Russia is the source of many classical art forms; music, dance, theater and literature among them. But Russia is also fertile ground for new creation, which is exactly what the M.ART Festival will display for Israeli audiences over the coming weeks. The festival, which spans more than a month, will present leading troupes from around the enormous country performing music, theater and dance. Both of the dance companies to visit Israel during M.ART hail from Yekaterinburg, an industrial capital perched in the eastern Ural Mountains.The first ensemble to arrive will do so in late February. The Provincial Dances Theater is one of Russia’s first contemporary dance troupes. In 1994, prima ballerina and choreographer Tatiana Baganova held a modern dance workshop in Moscow hosted by the American Dance Festival. In this moment, she introduced a way of moving and working that had, until that point, remained outside of Russia. With her company, Provincial Dance Theater, Baganova explores contemporary movement vocabularies within the context of her classical training. While in town, the company will perform two of her works: Sepia and Les Noces. Sepia was inspired by Kobo Abe’s novel Woman in the Dunes. By filling the stage with sand and hourglasses, Baganova relates to the themes of time and life cycles. Les Noces, which is Baganova’s most celebrated work to date, is the recipient of the Russian National Theater’s Golden Mask Award for Best Choreography. In this work, Baganova gives a modern interpretation to Igor Stravinsky’s composition. The second company to arrive in Israel will be the Ural Opera Ballet with Paquita by Marius Petipa. The ballet of the Ural Opera House has been functioning since the establishment of the opera in 1912. For decades, the company functioned on a low flame, performing classic ballets locally. In 2011, the troupe was revamped and began to draw big names in Russian dance from performers to choreographers. The company’s rendition of Paquita, which is one of Petipa’s lesser-performed ballets, is unusual both in its aesthetic and in its atmosphere. The ballet weaves together old and new. In one scene, the stage appears much like a traditional ballet or opera, filled with sets and lavish costumes. In the next scene, the stage is stripped bare, providing a stark background for the yellow tutus of the ballerinas to stand out. This production won the company a Russian National Theater Golden Mask prize in 2019 and continues to be performed in the troupe’s 108th season. The Provincial Dances Theater will perform on February 24 and 25 at the Suzanne Dellal Center. (suzannedellal.org.il). The Ural Opera Ballet will perform at Habima Theater on March 4 and 5 (kupatbravo.co.il).