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About the Change

Natalia Sologub

Cinderella from the Mariinsky

by Marina Radina

© Natasha Razina

Interview and words by Marina Radina, edited by Kevin Ng

Sologub in reviews

Sologub in all reviews

Natalia Sologub, the promising young rising star of the Kirov Ballet, has just finished her seventh ballet season. In her repertory there are a lot of roles in the classical and neoclassical ballets - Giselle, Aurora, Candid Fairy and Princess Florine (The Sleeping Beauty), Masha (The Nutcracker), Kitri (Don Quixote), variation in the dream scene (Raymonda), Lescaut's mistress (Manon), solos in "Chopiniana", "Middle Duet", "Come in!", and her latest role Cinderella (choreographer - Alexei Ratmansky).

Natalia, now aged 24, started rather late in her dancing career when she was only 12 years old, while in Russia children normally enter school at the age of ten. She spoke about how she started learning ballet: "I was born in the small town Sterlitamak in Bashkiria and since the age of four, I've taken to sports - gymnastics. The woman who taught us dancing advised my mum to go with me to the dance school. We went there and I was taken at once into the third class. This school in Ufa is situated in the building where there was previously a secondary school, in which Rudolf Nureyev studied. Now this dance school bears his name."

After graduation from the school in 1995 Sologub worked at the Bashkir State Theatre of opera and ballet. She danced there in many ballets among which were "The Sleeping Beauty", "La Sylphide", "Don Quixote", "Giselle", "Paquita", and "Carmen Suite". After spending a good time there, she dreamed of new opportunities, and in 1998 Natalia decided to go to St. Petersburg to try to enter the Mariinsky theatre. Destiny was kind to her, and having stayed in St. Petersburg for less than half a year, she was taken into the company of the Kirov Ballet.


Natalia Sologub as Cinderella
in Alexei Ratmansky's new production.

Photograph by Natasha Razina ©

Q: How did you approach the Kirov Ballet?

NS: I simply rang up the theatre and asked if there was a vacancy in the company. I was told, "Come, we shall see." Maybe it was my good luck, and I was accepted the first time.

Q: In the corps de ballet?

NS: Makhar Vaziev, the director of ballet company, told me that I would dance in the corps de ballet only if required, but I would also dance small solo roles, and that my future would depend on me. Two weeks after I was accepted, I went at once with the Kirov Ballet to Brazil. I danced there the grand pas and the pas de trois in the Shades scene of "La Bayadere"; pas de trios, a large swan and a bride in "Swan Lake". Those were my first roles with the Kirov Ballet.

Q: The company welcomes new people readily, doesn't it?

NS: Actually I'm a very closed person and when I arrived in St. Petersburg I had very few people to communicate with. I had a girlfriend and I was in my own world. Now it is already very easy to communicate with everyone. People in our company are rather kind. The story goes that there are factions and squabbles in the large companies. I didn't notice it, but it may be because I didn't know anything. And as a matter of fact guys are always supportive, they are concerned about you, and wish you good luck. The atmosphere is very kindly, it's always easy both on the stage and behind the stage.

Q: Who was your teacher or coach in the Mariinsky Theatre?

NS: At first I rehearsed with Olga Chenchikova and now I am with Elena Efteyeva.

Q: How do you prepare for new roles?

NS: At first, I work on it technically. For me the comprehension of an image only comes literally in the last days or hours. Therefore for me, at first it's important to manage the technical side of the role, to know the text of it, to stand on my legs, and only after that to think about how to interpret it. Sometimes on the stage there is already an element of improvising, of emotions. Of course it is just emotional improvising, and not choreography, because actually it is very difficult in classical ballet - you can do the choreographic improvising only if you are like a fish in the water in this performance or if you are a genius. And the emotional improvising is often very ad hoc.

Q: Do you consider that you accept more modern choreography?

NS: I can't say that the classical choreography is not suitable for me. There are periods in life, when you prefer neoclassic ballet, and there are moments when you'd like to dance the classics. For example, last time there were several months in which I was dancing modern choreography - Neumeier, Simonov, "Cinderella" of Ratmansky, and I was sick of these performances. It would be desirable to dance the classics, e.g. "The Sleeping Beauty". And it also happens on the contrary, when it would be desirable for me to dance something to relax from the busy season, because when you dance neoclassical it is possible for you to improvise rather strongly, and you have more freedom.

Q: Who are your favorite choreographers?

NS: It would be desirable for me to work with William Forsythe. I like "Come in!" of Kirill Simonov. I adore this ballet. In my opinion, everyone who dances in it receives a great pleasure even in the rehearsals. We always rehearse with Kirill.

Q: What roles do you dream to dance?

NS: I'd like very much to dance Manon, Nikiya in "La Bayadere", Odette-Odile in "Swan Lake", Juliet and many others. But now most of all it would be desirable for me to dance Mekhmeneh Bahnu in "The Legend of Love", though my coach says that I should dance Shirin. Unfortunately, in the Mariinsky this ballet is danced very seldom - in the recent season, for example, only 2-3 times.

Q: Who are your favorite partners?

NS: There are many dancers, with whom it's pleasant to work, but most of all I liked to dance with Denis Matvienko. Even if you don't feel that good or have a bad mood, he always could tell you something to lift your mood. It's a pity that he does not dance in the Kirov any more.


Natalia Sologub in The Nutcracker pas de deux with Andrian Fadeyev
(Kirill Simonov's choreography, which was
performed for President Bush in May)

Photograph by Natasha Razina ©

Q: Would it be interesting for you to dance with a foreign partner?

NS: Of course, I haven't yet had such a chance. This will give me experience with another school and will certainly be interesting.

Q: For many dancers, not being able to dance on the home stage is very hard. At the end of May you danced with Kirov Ballet on the stage of Covent Garden in London. What are your impressions?

NS: I like very much both the theatre and the stage of Covent Garden, it's very cosy. When you go on this stage you don't feel any awe. Everything is so familiar. We sat backstage and thought - this theatre feels very much like home. We were in Mexico recently. It was so hard to dance there! I was ill on the following day after "Don Quixote", I coughed and couldn't breathe. The next day after the general rehearsal I felt I would be dead.

Q: Do you have any time to see anything in the countries where you dance?

NS: Very little. There are many rehearsals, I get tired and it would be desirable to have a rest. Nevertheless we try to find some time to do some sightseeing.

Q: Can you run around the museums in St. Petersburg while you are living here?

NS: I haven't got enough time. And in my first months here I had a permanent headache; I wished to sleep all the time. There is so little sunshine here. When I woke up in the morning I didn't like to do anything. But I've already got used to it. And now sometimes I wish simply to sit alone at home with a book.

Q: Do you have an ideal ballerina in mind whom you'd like to model on?

NS: I like different ballerinas in different performances, but to be similar to someone, I would not like it at all. I see videotapes, because it's very interesting for me to know how different ballerinas danced. But it's not pleasant for me, when a ballerina starts to ape and attempt to imitate someone else. It badly irritates me. It's better to be yourself!

(edited by Kevin Ng)

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