The Russian National Ballet Theatre, founded in the late 1980s as the Soviet National Ballet, is proud of its reputation as a company with the most expert dancers in Russia and Eastern Europe. Elena Radchenko, a former principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, has been the director since 1994. The ballet master is Alexander Daev.

This week, the company will perform two of their most popular ballets, "Swan Lake" and "Giselle," at George Mason University Center for the Arts. The following week, they will present two romantic favorites, "Romeo and Juliet" and "Chopiniana," at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas.

"We perform many of the great ballets," Daev said. "Our production of 'Giselle' is the original ballet danced to the original choreography, with the same costumes and classical sets. The audiences comes to see a ballet they know and love, and that is what they enjoy when they come to see our 'Giselle.'

" 'Swan Lake' is a favorite of every ballet lover and is well known throughout the world. Every aspect of it is beautiful. Tchaikovsky's music is emotional and melodic. The choreography by Maurius Petipas and Lev Ivanov is purely classical and outstanding, and the story is universal and timeless."

If you go
The Russian National Ballet Theatre performs two classical ballets
» Where: George Mason University Center for the Arts, 4400 University Drive, Fairfax
» When: "Giselle," 8 p.m. Saturday; "Swan Lake," 4 p.m. Sunday
» Info: $27 to $54, youth through 12th grade half price, family friendly; 888-945-2468;
The Russian National Ballet Theatre performs "Swan Lake" and "Chopiniana"
» Where: George Mason University Hylton Performing Arts Center, 10960 George Mason Circle, Manassas
» When: 8 p.m. April 12; pre-performance discussion with Alexander Daev, ballet master of the RNBT
» Info: $38 to $54, youth through 12th grade half price, family friendly; 888-945-2468;

Ballet lovers also will be drawn next Friday to the Hylton Center, where the company's double bill features the story of star-crossed lovers "Romeo and Juliet" paired with "Chopiniana." Inspired by the music of composer Frederic Chopin, the work is not so well known as "Romeo and Juliet," but it is no less dazzling. The moonlight scene features ballerinas dancing around a young poet to some of Chopin's most beloved pieces, including the Nocturne in A-flat, Mazurkas in D and C Major, and Waltzes in G-flat Major, C-sharp Minor and E-flat Major, with choreography by Mikhail Fokine.

Daev emphasized that the Russian National Ballet Theatre is a purely classical ballet company dedicated to classical traditions in every sense. The costumes are similar to the originals that were worn a century or more ago. In addition to the dancers, the touring company of more than 50 members has wardrobe mistresses, a lighting designer, an audio engineer, an "advance team," a production manager, bus drivers, a truck driver and the tour manager.

"When on tour, we prepare seven ballets and perform the ones chosen by each venue," he said. "All our dancers are very versatile and can perform several parts. Because we are onstage many days in a row, the dancers who play the lead roles must have rest.

"Selecting dancers to join the Russian National Ballet is an important and serious duty. From those who come to us, we choose the finest. We look for dancers who are technically strong and very graceful. It's equally important that they have big hearts and emotional spirits. Dancers tell the story with their bodies. They must love what they do. Being a classical ballet dancer is a very hard life, but if you love it, it's a wonderful life!

"We love traveling around the world and meeting people of many cultures. We especially enjoy touring in America and find the audiences to be very warm and passionate. They show their appreciation with enthusiastic applause, which makes us feel good. Many young people come to our performances. I've been with the company for 12 years and find that they have great interest in the ballet. We want them to remember experiencing the beauty and emotions of classical ballet."