Svetlana Zakharova has been in Italy performing Pas de deux for Toes and Fingers, an evening with her husband, the violinist Vadim Repin, and four male dancers. Their next stop is Japan.
[Touring] is complicated with all the bureaucracy, the many permissions, and the continuous swabs for Covid, but I take philosophically. These days I’m seeing everything with new eyes: I seize the moment and live in the present. If I’m offered tours, I think about them more carefully. The pandemic has changed me. At the Bolshoi, many dancers fell ill, which led to last-minute replacements, so we were in a constant state of emergency.
I lived lockdown with the fear of losing my physical shape and gaining weight, but for the first time since I’ve been married to Vadim, we were able to spend a month together without being separated by constant travel. I enjoyed being with my family in our house outside Moscow, submersed in nature. This was the other side of the coin… an unexpected gift.
[Vadim and I] understand each other like no other person in the world could. From this deep empathy comes our understanding on stage in this show that blends dance and music. It is a format we invented, and it is unique in the world because it represents us.
[We met when] he was playing Carmen Fantasie by Franz Waxman at the Moscow Conservatoire, and I had just danced the Alberto Alonso’s Carmen Suite which uses Bizet’s score reworked by Scedrin. I was so moved by his performance that I wanted to tell him. We met and fell in love.
[Our daughter Anja] is now 10 years old and is studying artistic gymnastics on an intensive summer camp. We support her without pushing… she’s still young.
[At the Bolshoi] the rules stated that retirement was after a 20-year career. However now, for etoiles like me, we can continue with fixed-term contracts. If you want to continue dancing, you can do so as long as the theatre is in agreement.
Only Neumeier, Grigorovich and Eifman (though I know him less) are left [of the great choreographers]. There are many talented ones, but I don’t see anyone who is at their level.
I love Italy as I love Russia. When I dance at La Scala my heart races. That’s why I took your Jacopo Tissi [who is on this tour] under my wing. I had danced The Sleeping Beauty with him at La Scala [when he was a last-minute substitute in Alexei Ratmansky’s version], but he remained in the corps de ballet… he deserved more. In the Bolshoi, in four years you can grow a lot dancing a vast classical and contemporary repertoire. We live in the theatre.
Svetlana Zakharova was talking to the Corriere della sera’s Valeria Crippa.