''Naked'' actors give chilling performance in Moscow River

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Moscow, Jan 16 (UNI) Most people are trying to keep warm in the thick of Russia's real winter, but one group was not afraid to dive into icy waters as the religious feast day of Epiphany is approaching.

An unusual theatre show was held in the Moscow River. In general, such kind of ''behaviour'' is expected from polar bears, sea-lions and walruses.

Walrus is what Russians call the nearly naked swimmers whose unusual winter pastime involves jumping in the water surrounded by snowdrifts.

However, it was more than just a chilly dip-- It was a theatrical performance in the ice-hole. The 'walruses' staged scenes from famous fairy tales in the cold waters of the Moscow river.

''Everyone goes mad in his own way. But this is not genuine madness. It is more like an art which inspires people to take a risk,'' theatre director Sergei Bykov said.

According to the swimmers, the swimming in the icy reaches makes them feel lightly intoxicated because the extremely cold water shocks the body into producing endorphins, the hormone that lifts the mood.

It is also believed that ice-swimming can rejuvenate your body and make you more resistant to stress and disease.

''Russians are used to varied weather conditions, living in both the snow and the hot sun,'' Igor Rudakov, a show participant said.

Some doctors warn one should never try it if one has chronic heart or kidney disease.

''Ice-swimming is like a drug-- you get hooked on the feeling of euphoria from the icy water, something which you need to experience again and again,'' they said.

The roots of ice water swimming stem from the Christian feast of the Epiphany, which is celebrated in Russia on January 19 when the water is usually frozen.


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