When did you start dancing?
When I was 10 I went to ballet school in Prague, learning the Vaganova technique for 8 years. It was a bit boring for the first few years after doing gymnastics, but then I realized that yes, I wanted to become ballet dancer.
Why did you start dancing?
While I was doing gymnastics we had an hour a week of ballet, and the teacher said that ballet has a longer future then gymnastics and that I had talent. I spent two years in ballet school until I saw a ballet for the first time in my life.
Which dancer inspired you most as a child?
Growing up in eastern Europe we could only see Czech dancers and Russian dancers. My huge inspiration was Czech Prima Ballerina Hana Vlacilova, Russian Prima Ballerinas Ludmila Semeniaka, Nadezhda Pavlova, and Ekaterina Maximova, they were absolutely amazing dancers. Later on I was dancing in the same galas as them and sharing same dressing room. It was like my dream had come true. 🙂
Which dancer do you most admire?
There are many: Cynthia Harvey in Don Quixote, Alessandra Ferri as Juliet, Ulyana Lopatkina as the Dying Swan, Sylvie Guillem for her legs, Tamara Rojo for her confidence and unbelievable drive, and many more.
What's your favourite role?
Manon with Friedemann Vogel, Juliet with Vadim Muntagirov, I like Swan Lake a lot but it took me years to feel comfortable dancing it, I love Don Quixote, Lady of the Camellias, Nutcracker.
What role have you never played but would like to?
The Dying Swan, Manon with Vadim Muntagirov, Carabosse in Sleeping Beauty ;), Spartacus.
What's your favourite ballet to watch?
Don Quixote, Paquita, Roland Petit's Carmen.
Who is your favourite choreographer?
Petipa, Kylián, MacMillan.
Who is your favourite writer?
Graham Watts who wrote my autobiography book – Agony and Ecstasy: My life in Dance :)))))))))
Who is your favourite director?
Wayne Eagling who let me dance with Vadim, who respected me us a human being, who trusted me.
Who is your favourite actor?
Johnny Depp, Meryl Streep, Jack Nicholson.
Who is your favourite singer?
Don't have just one, it depends on my mood and how I feel when I'm listening to something. But I do like Freddie Mercury, he was an amazing performer.
What is your favourite book?
The Three Musketeers, I have read this book, I think, 3x.
What is your favourite film?
I like all historical dramas.
Which is your favourite city?
I think Cape Town, but I wouldn't like to live there for ever.
What do you like most about yourself?
That's a difficult one… I have no idea.
What do you dislike about yourself?
That's an easy one: I'm an insecure dancer, but I guess if I wasn't maybe I wouldn't have got this far. I'm scared to leave my security zone. When I was 20 it was my long nose, but then I realised that I didn't miss out on anything just because I had a long nose!
What was your proudest moment?
My daughter's achievements.
When and where were you happiest?
I am happiest every time I have a good sleep and that means minimum of 9h. And after I have eaten.
Also, when my daughter called me “Mum” the first time, and when she sang on stage.
What or who is the greatest love of your life?
My daughter Sabina. The rest I wont tell you 🙂
What is your greatest fear?
If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To have more confidence.
What do you consider your greatest achievement?
That I'm still dancing and guesting around the world age 42. Last month at the Bolshoi Theatre, and in London's Royal Albert Hall doing Odette and Odile in Swan Lake with 5,000 people watching me.
What is your most treasured possession?
My iPhone and my hard drive with all my photos. I love photos.
What is your greatest extravagance?
Handbags and knickers!
On what occasion do you lie?
Every day when people ask me how I am.
If you hadn't been a dancer what would you have liked to be?
A clever business women.
What is your most marked characteristic?
Determination. If I fail in something I want to give up everything, but when I calm down I come back and fight again.
What quality do you most value in a friend?
A real friend is one who will take me for what I am.
What quality do you most value in a colleague?
Which historical figure do you most admire?
Mozart, Shakespeare… they still live with us.
Which living person do you most admire?
All the people living around me who put up with me.
What do you most dislike?
Crowded small places.
What talent would you most like to have?
To be able to make everybody happy.
What's your idea of perfect happiness?
To be healthy, have good people around me, being able to learn, to give, to love, to challenge myself.
How would you like to die?
In my sleep.
What is your motto?
Respect and you will be respected.
Live today, there might not be tomorrow.
Daria Klimentova – a biography
Daria was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, now known as the Czech Republic. She started gymnastics when she was 5 years old and was spotted as a future Olympic talent and placed under the guidance of the country's top trainers. At the age of 10 she entered the Prague State Conservatoire of Music and Dance, where once again her teachers picked her out as a great natural talent, and placed her in a programme designed for future Principal Dancers. She was entered into numerous International Ballet Competitions, including the Prix de Lausanne (won Paris Dance Foundation award) and the International Ballet Competition in Pretoria (won Gold Medal). After 8 years Daria graduated, with highest honours, with a performance of The Sleeping Beauty at the National Theatre and was immediately offered a soloist contract (the highest level in the Czech Republic) with the National Theatre Ballet Company in Prague. During her time with the company in Prague she created the role of Margarita in The Lady of The Camellias to such popular and critical acclaim that it was filmed and is still regularly shown on Czech Television.
In 1991 (just two years after the fall of Communism in the Czech Republic) she was invited to join the Capab/Kruik Ballet, based in Cape Town, South Africa. Whilst in the company Daria was filmed in the role of Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream. She regularly returns to Cape Town with her present partner, Vadim Muntagirov, to guest, most recently in April 2012 for Giselle.
After one year in Cape town she was invited, in 1992, to join The Scottish Ballet by the then Artistic Director, Galina Samsova, where she stayed for 3 years before being invited to join English National Ballet by the then Artistic Director, Derek Deane. Her repertoire encapsulates all the major classical ballet roles and works by many contemporary choreographers. She has a close working relationship with Christopher Hampson who created the award winning ballet Double Concerto on her.
Since 2003 Daria has been the founder and Director of the Prague International Ballet Masterclasses held at the magnificent studios of the National Theatre Company in Prague. Bringing together her friends, such as Tamara Rojo, Nicholas Le Riche and Julio Bocca, to spend intensive time in the studio with the next generation of ballet stars.
Her regular partners these past three or four years include Friedemann Vogel from Stuttgart and Vadim Muntagirov from Russia.
In 2011 the BBC, having followed English National Ballet for a year, broadcast a series of three documentaries entitled The Agony and the Ecstasy. These featured Daria and Vadim Muntagirov in two of the episodes. One dealing with the preparations for the famous “in the round” Swan Lake at the Royal Albert Hall in London, and the other showing the chaotic creation of the Sugar Plum role in Wayne Eagling's new Nutcracker at the Coliseum Theatre, London.
In 2011 Daria was awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Dame Beryl Grey, for the Dance Critics Circle in London. In 2012 she was named Best Female Dancer of the Year, also by the Dance Critics Circle in London.
Daria has performed all over the world and is in great demand as a Guest Artiste. This year alone has seen her travel to Taiwan, South Africa, USA, Vietnam, Italy, the Czech Republic, Japan, Hong Kong, Australia and Shanghai. Her performance of Giselle in Prague has been filmed this year and broadcast on television. Czech Television have also made several documentaries on Daria's life (some of which are available on YouTube), following her around the world.
Top photo, Daria Klimentova with daughter Sabina by Arnaud Stephenson
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.