On Ballet

It therefore represents the body as we wish it were, not one of our bodies well-used, but a dream body liberated from trouble. It is the epitome of all the elements we consider most attractive — lightness, fleetness, strength, ease and, above all, fulfillment.

~ Agnes de Mille


On Being a Prima Ballerina

When I am in the wings, it is hard for me to describe my conditions. Courage and joy on my hand, the other entire wild nervousness. When I am rehearsing, I feel like a pupil, not a ballerina. But for some reason, when I get out on the stage, I feel complete opposite. This transformation is quite unique: something happens from within, and you understand that human abilities are limitless, and sometimes you end up doing things which you didn’t even know you are capable of.

In order to be a world-famous prima ballerina, first of all you need the physical attributes, a huge ability to work, charisma, and a huge desire to be number one. I practice a huge number of hours a day. I remember preparing for Cinderella. I would come in at 10 o’clock in the morning and leave at 10 o’clock at night. The whole day rehearsing.

All ballets are saturated with big techniques. The task of an artist is not to turn his technique into a sport, but to perfect to the point where you are no longer thinking, and current steps convey emotions and be real hero on stage because dance is all about emotions and the audience comes to be enchanted.

In order to become prima ballerina, very many traits are needed. First of all, diligence. I always try to watch and learn something new. We learn from the French how to dance with the foot; Russians like to dance with hands. Also, discipline. When I was 13, 14, my peers would go to the disco, the no-go territory for us. Ballet is not a profession for me. It is my life. And that is why when people ask me that I sacrifice many things, I could not understand what I sacrifice.

~ Svetlana Zakharova, Prima Ballerina