An interview with award winning ballerina Oksana Bondareva who danced in 47 countries and currently associated with one of the world’s leading ballet company Mariinsky Ballet.
Mariinsky Ballet was founded in the 18th century and originally known as the Imperial Russian Ballet. It was also regarded as one of the world’s leading ballet companies. Tell us how does it feel to be a part of this dream and experienced gained at the very first day of yours with them?
I am happy that I had experience in the Mariinsky Theater. The walls of the Mariinsky Theater keep the great history of ballet, outstanding people. It is very useful for me to work with legends – Komleva, Selyutsky, Terekhova, Makhalina and many others, they are unique teachers, people and, above all, artists .Every appearance on the stage for me was a gift of fate!
There is an interesting remark of prima ballerina Alexandra Ansanelli at her interview with Elle which still resonates in my mind; “The dream of becoming a ballerina is just a passing phase for most—no more serious, or plausible, than wanting to be a fairy princess.” How did you decided to be a dancer ? Nearly every kid has her own “Tutu” at some age. However, going along with this dream requires serious study and sacrifice. Tell us your journey.
This is a very interesting question for me. From the very childhood from the age of 4 I was engaged in artistic gymnastics and did not even think about ballet! I found ballet boring. But my mother dreamed of being a ballerina and decided to make her dream come true through me. It turned out that I have good data for ballet. My love for ballet woke up the day I took to the stage. It was a magical day that decided my fate for many years. I fell in love through the stage with the great art of ballet.
Your dancing is stunning and appears to be effortless. But we all know it’s the result of many hours of training and hard work. What is your training regimen?
We have to train every day for 5-7 hours a day, sometimes more. My morning begins with a warm-up and a classical lesson, then rehearsals begin. It happens that you spend all day in the dance hall and dance a performance in the evening.
How is your relation with choreographers?
I really like to learn. New ballets, new choreography gives me the energy to work, hone my skills. My relationship with the choreographers is going well. I was lucky and some ballets were done just for my body and emotions. The ballet The Nutcracker choreographed by Nacho Duato was staged by me and Leonid Sarafanov at the Mikhailovsky Theater. At the Mariinsky Theater choreographer Yuri Smekalov staged the ballet Orpheus and Eurydice where my partner was the Mariinsky Theater premier Vladimir Shklyarov. Also worked with me as choreographers Ivan Vasiliev, Mikhail Venshchikov, Oleg Gabyshev and others..
Despite all performances are individual in characteristics, please tell us your favorite repertoire. Which roles are the most demanding ones ?
I like trying on different looks. First of all, I try to be an actress who dances classical ballet. I like the part of Juliet and Carmen, Kitri and Lisa from “Vain Precaution”(La Fille mal gardée ) and many others .. So many vivid images and so little time
Regarding competitions, they are inevitable for classical musicians. Right or wrong is another discussion. However, ballet seems to be no exception. Why all those marathons? Is it an important factor to join a prestigious company ? Please comment your view and sector reality.
I was a little girl who came from the province of Dnepropetrovsk (Ukraine) and dreamed of getting into a big ballet. The competition is the only opportunity to show myself. If you are a little better than others, no one will remember you tomorrow, if you do five pirouettes more than others you you can stand on the winner’s podium. I needed contests like air to make myself known.
You do have a lot of social media fan. I can state that your instagram profile is underrated, there are tons of fashionable photos which are laborious to produce, both professional and personal videos. I expect more attention for such great composition of life and efficient use of social media. I am stunned with your out of studio photography, brilliant works. Why majority of the dancers took same way to produce such media? Do you believe it is more interesting to see a ballerina at the bus stop or on street than on stage ?
Thank you very much for appreciating my account. I am making an Instagram page with love and for myself. Many people enjoy looking at nude bodies and for this they give high marks and contribute to the promotion. I love my body, but I remember that I am a ballerina. I think it’s cool when an airy nymph (ballerina), unreal, light on stage, suddenly appears among people in a simple life – at a bus stop, in the subway, on the street among people. It’s a cool effect and people like it and artists too.
In Turkey, we have 6 state opera and ballet directorates established in major cities like Istanbul and Ankara. At March 2021, they announced the winners for enrollment which sums only 17 people. If this would be the case, we can not stage any ballet within 20 years due to lack of artist. How is the situation there? Is there a decline in interest for this beautiful art? If so, what is your opinnion about the reasons beneath?
This is a very bad news! I sympathize with the Turkish the viewer and artists. I am ready to come to Turkey and dance for you. I think that in Russia appreciate ballet and art. During the pandemic Russian theaters were closed for a few months. This is a very small compared with other theaters around the world. I am happy that I can work in Russia and very wish to virus remained as soon as possible.
Can you sustain a decent life economically with your art? Do you have any extra works like private courses to support yourself ?
Yes, of course, as long as I dance I feel financially comfortable. I work hard and I am very happy about it. I have my own team, I have a company and we are already trying to make bright shows on the international arena. We need investors (sponsors who love art and are ready to cooperate). I would be happy if there are such people among our readers. They are very much waiting for the borders to be opened and it will be possible to move freely without restrictions.
Do you believe that having a family is career threatening ? What are your future plans ?
No, quite the opposite. Having a family only helps to go up. A complete family is your strength, home, fortress, protection. Only when you have a family and a home do you understand what a bright life is and the strength to work even harder appears.
Your contribution is very valuable. Thank you for your time. As for the final words, what would you advise to young ballerinas who started this demanding journey? Please feel free to comment on any other topic you would like to discuss.
To everyone who starts to practice ballet professionally, I want to say .. You must understand that the profession of a ballet dancer will take a lifetime and all the time. You will not have full vacations and weekends, you must always endure pain, work until exhaustion and go on stage. whatever happens. You should be ready to rebuild your profession at the age of 40, since you will no longer be able to dance as before. You must have one more profession in your head so that leaving the stage is not an ordeal. Ballet is a big sacrifice and a lot of work, but I can’t imagine my life without it. I am grateful for the interesting questions. Thank you very much for asking my opinion.