Over the last few years I have been interviewing dancers for several dance magazines. With the approval of the editor I would like to present here a selection of the interviews which were originally published in the Canadian quarterly dance magazine Dance International. The texts are reproduced here as published.

Several interviews published by the American dance magazine DanceView are now online at the site of Dance View. A complete list of my interviews can be found in the Dance writing section.

Maria Alexandrova
Principal ballerina with the Bolshoi Ballet
January 2003
First published in Dance International, Summer 2003.

Maria Alexandrova © Marc Haegeman
"Galina Ulanova and Marina Semyonova were our idols. We stood paralyzed when we happened to run into them in the theatre. I watched ballerinas like Ekaterina Maximova, Ludmilla Semenyaka, and Natalia Bessmertnova. When we grew up, our idols were Nadezhda Gracheva and Galina Stepanenko. We used to go and see their performances full of admiration for their talent. Ballerinas and dancers were like gods to us and the Bolshoi Theatre was something like Mount Olympus."


Altynai Asylmuratova
Artistic Director of the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, principal ballerina with the Mariinsky Ballet
November 2001
First published in Dance International, Winter 2001/2002, pp. 14-17.

"When you watch a video tape of dancers of the old generations, for instance Galina Ulanova, Marina Semyonova, or a bit later Natalia Dudinskaya, you can see a certain coordination of body and arms, a musicality - you might call it 'singing with the body' - and above all an emotional depth to the dancing which no longer seem to exist today. The technique was present alright, but it was never there just for the sake of technique. The accent was first and foremost on emotion. However, now it's all about high legs. I consider that a serious problem. All we seem to think about today is how high the legs can go, but there is hardly any concern anymore about form, plastique, harmony, and about what's coming from inside, about soul. That's something we lost."


Laurent Hilaire
Etoile of the Paris Opera Ballet
"I remember he called me the 31st of December, telling me I had to learn Le chant du compagnon errant, The Moor's pavane from José Limon, and Two Brothers. I asked, "OK, Rudolf, for when?" - "Tomorrow", he replied. "You go back to the Opera, take a cassette, and tomorrow, 1st of January there is performance". And that's what I did. I worked until 5 in the morning. Don't ask me how, but I was able to dance the three works the next day."


Igor Kolb
Principal dancer with the Mariinsky Ballet
December 2002
First published in Dance International, Fall 2003.

Igor Kolb © Marc Haegeman
"Not just because Ayupova is a star, but one can really make a performance with her. We feel each other. We can create something together. However, now it often is like: ‘I feel it. If you don’t, then just stand by me.’ That explains why there are no real partnerships anymore today, like we used to have with Maximova and Vasiliev or with Berezhnoi and Terekhova. Everyone dances far too much for himself these days."


Larissa Lezhnina
First soloist of the Dutch National Ballet, Amsterdam; former soloist of the Kirov Ballet
August 2002
First published in Dance International, Fall/Winter 2002, pp. 42-43

Larissa Lezhnina © Marc Haegeman
"I recently was in St. Petersburg, doing class with the Kirov. It's incredible. When some years ago Diana Vishneva first appeared in the theatre, everybody was raving about her - 'those legs' etc. Then the following year Svetlana Zakharova came - again 'those legs, those feet'. But now they are all like that!"


Daria Pavlenko
Principal dancer with the Mariinsky Ballet
December 2001
First published in Dance International, Summer/Fall 2002, pp. 44-45

"Sometimes you see a certain ballerina tackle a role which doesn't suit her at all. Yet, I understand that for some dancers this is not an issue. They just don't seem to care about emploi. Personally I would never feel comfortable in La Sylphide for example. It's a great ballet, I have seen fantastic interpreters of the role, like Evdokimova, Evteyeva, Kolpakova, but it's not for me."


Vladimir Vasiliev
legendary Bolshoi artist
March 2002
First published in Dance Now, Vol. 11, No. 4, Winter 2002/03.

"Let's take the example of Giselle. Why is the ballet Giselle immortal? Because each new generation of dancers changes it. If we would return to the original Giselle from 1842, it would look funny. When we watch the photos of all those great dancers from the beginning of the 20th century we can't help smiling, because they look so different. The aesthetics were so different and are no longer accepted now. Yet, the ballet Giselle still exists and is loved everywhere."


Svetlana Zakharova - Steely strength with a silken appearance
Principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet
August 2004
First published in Dance International, Fall 2006

Svetlana Zakharova © Marc Haegeman
"At the age of ten I auditioned for the Kiev Ballet School. I was accepted, but already after a few months I had to leave the school again, because as a result of a new assignment of my dad who was in the army, my parents moved to East-Germany. When the Soviet Union collapsed, the army was pulled out of Germany and so we all returned home and I went back to school. If it hadnít been for Mikhail Gorbachov, I would probably never have been a ballerina."



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