Kremlin Ballet dancers didn’t need a soccer ball to celebrate the Confederations Cup this weekend. (Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

Russia isn’t just about election-tampering and authoritarianism. That’s the message of several tourist-friendly celebrations the country is putting on during this summer’s Confederation Cup, which is largely viewed as a trial run as Russia continues preparations to host next year’s World Cup.

As part of the Confederations Cup festivities, groups in the country have put on parades and other events to drum up publicity for the hosts. While some have failed (blackface at a parade is never a good idea), others appear to have succeeded, including this weekend’s stunning performance by the Kremlin Ballet in a Moscow Metro station.

“Thousands of fans from all over the world have come to Moscow for the Confederations Cup,” a Moscow Metro spokesperson told Russia’s Interfax news agency (via the Moscow Times). “We’re holding this unique event because we want them to have great memories of visiting our country.”

Of course, this wasn’t your normal busking experience. Before the actual event, dancers began appearing in the Metro, where they warmed up to some very odd looks.


(Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

But by the time the show began late Sunday night, rows of onlookers had gathered to take in the one-of-a-kind performance at the visually stunning Novoslobodskaya Metro station.


(Sergei Karpukhin/Reuters)

Designed by architect Alexey Dushkin and featuring a sparkling mosaic by artist Pavel Korin and museum-worthy stained-glass panels by a group of Latvian artists, the station was completed in 1952 and restored in 2003 to rival any stage’s scenery.

And it wasn’t just a handful of dancers who showed up to perform, but dozens of ballerinas, who performed scenes from some of Russia’s most renowned ballets, including “Swan Lake” and “The Nutcracker” by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky and “Don Quixote” by Ludwig Minkus.

The Confederations Cup, meanwhile, kicked off in Russia on June 17 and runs through July 2. The tournament has avoided major scandals, although Mexico received a stern warning from FIFA to tell its fans to cease yelling out a homophobic chant during goal kicks. The fans obliged, and the team advanced to the semifinals, where El Tri will take on Germany for the chance to face the winner of Portugal vs. Chile in the final.

Portugal, anchored by Real Madrid superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, and Chile play Wednesday at 2 p.m. in Kazan, Russia. Meanwhile, 2014 World Cup winners Germany will face Mexico on Thursday at 2 p.m. in Sochi, Russia.