Svetlana Zakharova knows that a lot of jealousy surrounds her but she's fought for her rightful position in the dance world since she was a child:
It was a tough struggle at the Vaganova Academy. I was ten, and several times I just wanted to leave everything to return home to my family. This does not mean that the world of dance is the one portrayed in the movie Black Swan, which I'd always avoided until I happened to see it on a plane en route to the United States.
No Black Swan episodes in Zakharova's career then?
Well, one day at the Bolshoi, I found my costume cut in half, a minute before I had to go on stage. I remember how the wardrobe mistress' hands were trembling as she tried to repair it seconds before I had to enter. I never found out who was the culprit. There is much invidiousness around me, but I try to not let such people get too close, and just ignore it.
Would she like to make a film?
I love the cinema. I love the stories of Kings and Queens… lately I watched Doctor Zhivago again and it was electrifying. However, just as I like the idea of making my début as an actress, right now I can't afford to leave dance for a long period of time. Ballet is all-encompassing and demands self-denial. How many sacrifices… even food! I feed myself with vitamins, my diet is my job. Dance is my life.
Valeria Crippa's interview appears in the Milan-based newspaper, the Corriere della Sera, which is launching a series of twenty ballet DVDs to come out weekly with the newspaper. The first of these is La Scala's Giselle with Zakharova and Roberto Bolle, one of her three favourite partners, she says, along with David Hallberg and Igor Zelensky.
I was seventeen when I danced the role for the first time at the Mariinsky theatre. I studied the role with my teacher Olga Moiseyeva examining every detail of not just the body movements of the character but also her soul… even though I was very young, I knew that I was working on something extremely important.
A favourite piece in her repertoire then?
Oh, I'm very unfaithful… though only with choreographers!
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.