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LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW

Interview with Ballerina Maria Khoreva

Born in St Petersburg, Maria Khoreva graduated from the Vaganova Ballet Academy and joined the Mariinsky ballet in 2018. I asked Maria Khoreva, rising star of the ballet world, about her life and ballet.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Maria Khoreva

Maria Khoreva - Photo by Kiran West

LIFESTYLE - INTERVIEW

by Meryem Aksoy

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Ballet is a combination of talent, long-lasting effort, and good training. No matter how talented you are, you do not have a chance to get your place on the stage without having a good ballet training. Maria Khoreva has developed her talent with the training she received at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in the class of Professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. And after graduated from Vaganova in 2018, Maria started her professional ballet career at the Mariinsky Ballet. In order to learn more about her life and ballet, I asked Maria Khoreva, rising star of the ballet world. Enjoy the interview.

Maria Khoreva

Maria Khoreva - Photo by Andrew Lush

Maria, what does ballet mean for you?

Myself and ballet are very deeply connected on so many levels. First of all, by now my body can’t really live without everyday ballet exercises, my muscles need that work because they’re so used to do it and if I stop everything just starts to hurt. Secondly, I absolutely can’t imagine a single day not thinking about ballet. It is so interesting to explore the world of dance, its history and outstanding people, to create characters and develop the details of each performance. But the main thing is that through ballet I express myself, I open up my emotions. Dance is like a therapy for my soul, it brings inspiration and joy, satisfaction and harmony.

Maria Khoreva

Maria Khoreva - Photo by Irina Yakovleva

When did you start dancing? Who discovered your talent and guided you to decide to become a ballerina?

I was doing rhythmic gymnastics since I was 3 and it was quite a successful 7-year-long journey which brought me joy, tears, but most importantly - strength and desire to only go forward. At the age of six, my choreographer told me a secret that I’ve got light legs which is super valuable in ballet. I think it was my parents who discovered my talent, they were always seeing me in an artistic profession. But the idea of doing ballet came to me very spontaneously, just in one day.

How did you get into the Vaganova Ballet Academy?

One day, it was the beginning of summer and I just won a significant gymnastics competition, we were walking by the famous Vaganova Ballet Academy on Rossi Street in Saint-Petersburg, and we saw that there was an audition. So we decided to try to enter it and see what will happen next. And after three auditioning days, I found myself accepted to the Academy. That’s how surprisingly quick it happened!

Maria Khoreva

Maria Khoreva - Photo by Alexander Ku

What were the most important things you learned in the Vaganova Ballet Academy apart from the technical infrastructure of the ballet?

For me Vaganova Academy was not only the school of ballet, it also was a great school of life where we got totally prepared for the work in a big “adult” world. We learned that it’s only us who are responsible for our success or failure and that we should push as hard as possible every day to reach the goal we set. Also, I think one of the most important things I learned is to be supportive to my fellow dancers. It’s very precious in our competitive atmosphere.

Maria Khoreva

Maria Khoreva - Photo by Darian Volkova

Now you are defined as the future of the ballet world. What kind of practicing schedule did you apply to come to this point? How many hours do you practice daily now?

Well, Vaganova Academy really helped me with organising the schedule while I was studying there. Same goes for the Mariinsky Theatre. At both places, the working regime is strictly organised and usually involves a lot of hard work. At some point ballet, dancers can feel not confident enough with particular moves or parts of the roles they’re rehearsing. In that case, we should add some more practice to our schedule which means going to an empty studio and working alone. Right now I practice ballet for about 5-8 hours a day but it depends on what I’m preparing. Sometimes it can get very intense, sometimes I’ll get more free time but the truth is that we all have to always keep our bodies in a good shape ready to dance a difficult choreography.

Maria Khoreva

Maria Khoreva - Photo by Irina Yakovleva

Many of the ballets and ballerinas live very serious problems after coming back from injuries. How did you manage your injury period and returned better? What was your motivation?

I had a serious injury of Achilles which held me back from studies for more than half a year but I always kept my dream in mind and never stopped exercising other parts of my body lying on the floor. And there was another thing: the attitude to me as a dropout which I could not stand after being considered “the best” in class when your place on the center of the barre is occupied by somebody else.

Maria Khoreva

Maria Khoreva

After stepping into the professional career, what did change in your life?

I’ve definitely become more concentrated and motivated. While you are a student it feels more like your teachers and academy leaders are responsible for your performances but in this adult life, you have to take responsibility and change the attitude to the rehearsal process. At school, for example, we would have a three-hour class everyday and the rehearsal time which is practically not limited in time and my teacher would spend with me as much time as needed. But in a new life, we’ve got a quick class in the morning followed by 3 to 4 strictly scheduled rehearsals which implies more independent approach.

Maria Khoreva

Maria Khoreva

What do you feel when you stepping on to the stage?

It’s one of the most thrilling but at the same time frightening feelings. What’s really on my mind at the time I step on stage from the wings is the pressure of responsibility for myself and for all the people who have been helping me through the preparation, but it's a good kind of pressure that helps me to do much much better. But while my mind feels the responsibility my soul is fulfilled with the incredible inspiration the stage gives me. And no matter how hard it is to perform the piece physically, when I’m on stage something from inside really helps me with it every time.

Maria Khoreva

Maria Khoreva - Photo by Darian Volkova

What do you like most about ballet?

Ballet is Big and on every stage of your life, there’s something to enjoy. As a small girl I remember enjoying mastering battement tendu at the barre to the point when the teacher is satisfied; then trying my first variations on the academy stage; then bigger roles on the Mariinsky stage being a Vaganova student and now major roles as a Mariinsky artist.

And what I like most is that there’s always something bigger to dream of.

Maria Khoreva

Maria Khoreva - Photo by Irina Yakovleva

What are your future plans? What is the top point for you?

Now as I’ve just joined the company I would start learning classical repertoire which I find very exciting and waking up knowing of that boundless ballet heritage which I will probably be given a chance to dance is making me the happiest person. I don’t think there’s Top for a ballet dancer as when you’d danced all classical roles new modern ballet will be born.

And I would like to finish with two questions about daily life;

Maria Khoreva

Maria Khoreva - Photo by Irina Yakovleva

Can you eat what you want in your daily life? or do you have to apply a strict diet?

I can eat what I want and I’m very lucky! The amount of daily work I’m doing allows me to consume quite a lot of food, in fact, some days I will even have to eat more than I want just because my muscles need this energy to survive.

Could you advise us a movie or book which realistically reflects a ballerina's life?

Recently I read two books about famous ballet dancers and they were life-changing for me. The first, “Noureev: L’insoumis” is about Rudolf Nureyev, a XX-century ballet world sensation who changed the understanding of ballet and dance on the whole. The second “Natalia Makarova: Biography in Dance” is written by the great ballerina herself and reveals her unique ideas of approaching dramatical roles.

Thank you Maria for your time and enjoyable interview.

For more information, please visit instagram account of Maria Khoreva





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