Polina Semionova has been booked to reprise her smash-hit turn in the ENB’s Swan Lake — this time, paired with hot-but-incredibly-inexperienced Vadim Muntagirov, 20, straight out of ballet school.
“He doesn’t know any tricks, but he has amazing physical form. The aim will be to push him to the limit of his capabilities, but without breaking him,” the choreographer Derek Deane sighs.
Caitlin Moran for The Times was visiting the ENB rehearsal room.
There’s only one problem — Polina is in such demand that she won’t be able to attend any of the rehearsals. For the six weeks leading up to opening night, inexperienced Vadim will be broken in by the ENB’s senior principal ballerina, Daria Klimentová — who will then bow out at the dress rehearsal, leaving Vadim, and the glory, to Polina.
Daria is a sweetheart. Looking like a sexy, slightly nervous dachshund, Daria really isn’t a driven diva in the making. We first find her after warm-up, holding her ankle in her hand. “It hurts,” she says, with the calm of someone very familiar with pain.
Now 38, Daria is nearing the end of her career. She talks about her body in the same way that miners would talk about a coal seam that’s been mined to exhaustion, and which they are preparing to close down.
“I’ve had three operations on my knees, and one on my ankle; I’ve had a baby; I’ve been a professional for 20 years,” she says, with a resigned smile. “This body has been used and abused.” She kisses her fingertips, and then presses them to the ankle. The pain makes her eyes fill.
“Ach, look what you are seeing — an old ballerina crying. Tchoh.”
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.