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Diana Vishneva...
Kirov Principal

by Kevin Ng


Natasha Razina ©


Vishneva in reviews

Kirov Reviews



Diana Vishneva, a leading star of the the Kirov Ballet, is a foremost classical ballerina in the world today. Vishneva, a ravishing beauty with an illuminating smile and lively, bright black eyes, possesses all the qualities and charisma that make for a real star. Her technical brilliance and dramatic expressiveness create a uniquely satisfying combination.

Vishneva, aged 26, has distinguished herself in a variety of ballets. She is a lyrical Nikiya (in Vikharev's reconstructed production last year), her dancing in the Shades scene has purity as well as grandeur. Vishneva's Giselle is tragically breathtaking. In Act 2 she is divine, dancing with a pearly lustre, a perfect inner harmony, and a spirituality that is transcendent. Her Aurora is sweetly radiant. In the ballerina role in Balanchine's "Rubies", Vishneva is simply sensational, dancing with such nuances as if Balanchine's choreography had been originally created for her. In MacMillan's "Manon" Vishenva is profoundly moving in the tragic role, losing her head in a whirlwind of passions. Last March, she created the title role in Alexei Ratmansky's ballet "Cinderella" for the Kirov.

I first saw Vishneva as Kitri in the Kirov Ballet's London Coliseum season in 1997. Besides the above-mentioned roles I also had the pleasure to see her shine in two other seldom performed roles in the Ruzimatov gala in St. Petersburg in October 2001 - as the seductive death figure in Roland Petit's "Le Jeune Homme et la Mort", and in Maurice Bejart's contorted choreography in his pas de deux "Bakhti".

Nowadays Vishneva is much sought after worldwide as a guest dancer. She has already guested with the Paris Opera Ballet, La Scala and other companies, and has danced in Japan many times. In mid-January Vishneva was named the "Dancer of the Year" by Dance Europe magazine.

I met Vishneva for breakfast in her hotel on the morning of 29 November 2002 after her sublime performance in "Giselle" on the previous night which opened the Kirov's Hong Kong season. After breakfast she left for Berlin for her guesting engagement with the Berlin Staatsoper.

--oOo--

KN: Diana, after only three days in Hong Kong and dancing the opening performance of "Giselle" last night, you are leaving this morning to fly to Berlin to dance with Vladimir Malakhov in his production of "La Bayadere". It must be hard for you to adjust to all the time differences when you travel round the world so much.

DV: There are two sides to this situation. On the one hand, for sure, my constant travelling is not good for my health, especially for my legs when I am sitting inside the plane. However I've got used to all this travelling routine by now. Strangely enough I don't like any more to be in only one city all the time, and I've come to enjoy my guesting in other parts of the world. It's in fact been very beneficial for my career to have a chance to travel to different countries, to meet lots of interesting people, and to experience different culture.

Who is your favourite partner in the Kirov or in other companies? I recall that you've danced with e.g. Manuel Legris, Roberto Bolle, Vladimir Malakhov, Nikolai Tsiskaridze, and Jose Martinez.

It's quite difficult for me to say who is my favourite partner, because all of them are very famous, and are very great ballet dancers. And it depends on the role as well, because someone can be a great partner for me for a particular ballet. Probably I don't have a favourite partner at all. I am very happy that at my age I have a chance to dance with these stars. They are all differrent, but they are all very bright. It's been a particularly great experience for me that I can dance with Vladimir Malakhov, and Farouk Ruzimatov.



Vishneva as Giselle
Photograph by Natasha Razina ©


Are there any roles which you've danced with other companies that are actually new to you, and that you haven't danced with the Kirov?

So far it's just other versions of the classics that I've danced with other companies. But I will have some new roles in future.

I remember now. You've danced Nureyev's version of "The Sleeping Beauty" with La Scala Ballet, and Nureyev's version of "Don Quixote" with the Paris Opera Ballet. How did you find these Nureyev productions? Are they really that different from the Kirov versions?

I suppose that they are quite different. Actually it's very difficult for me from the very beginning. When I started to learn these versions, I couldn't really accept them psychologically. It's very difficult for me to accept another version of a classic when I am so familiar with the Petipa versions that we dance at the Kirov, especially since it's so different from Petipa's version. Yes, my initial reaction was quite negative. But then after the period of rehearsals and my performances, I have even come to like these Nureyev versions.

"Rubies" is one of your greatest roles. I am really impressed by how much inspiration you've found in this Balanchine ballet. Who coached you?

Both Yuri Fateev (the Kirov's repetiteur in the Balanchine repertory) and Olga Chenchikova (Vishneva's personal coach in the Kirov) coached me in this ballet, and I've watched lots of videos as well.



Diana Vishneva and Manuel Legris in Rubies
Photograph by Natasha Razina ©


Besides "Rubies", I saw you dance the third movement of Balanchine's "Symphony in C" in the Kirov London season in 2001. Do you wish to dance more of Balanchine's ballets? Have you thought of spending a seson dancing with the New York City Ballet?

I think Balanchine would have been very happy indeed if he could have seen his ballets performed at the Mariinsky Theatre. You mentioned New York City Ballet. I'd happily accept invitations from them to dance in some perfomances.

What are your favourite roles in the Kirov?

Well, naturally I like some roles more than others. I don't like "Don Quixote" for instance. In general I prefer dramatic roles in which I can express my emotions, like Giselle and Manon. And Juliet is also one of my favourite roles.

In March last year you created the role of Cinderella in Alexei Ratmansky's new ballet for the Kirov. Are you happy with this role?

It was very important for me that Ratmansky created this role specially for me. I cannot say that it's my favourite, or say with certainty that this ballet will last in history. But I do think that it's very important, and I like it. I've actually learnt a lot from creating this particular role.

Do you still find the classics interesting and challenging? You danced Giselle last night, and I saw your Aurora in London in 2001.

I am convinced that the classics will last forever. And every time when I dance a classic I can still find some new and challenging aspects. The classics are really most difficult to dance well.

As a matter of interest, do you prefer Konstantin Sergeyev's version of "The Sleeping Beauty" and "La Bayadere", or Sergei Vikarev's reconstructions? And why?

I prefer Sergeyev's versions, because they are closer to my style and tastes. After all I grew up with those versions.

 


Diana Vishneva as Aurora in Act 2 of Sleeping Beauty
Photograph by Natasha Razina ©


Are there any new roles which you particularly want to dance? I notice that you haven't yet danced "Swan Lake" for instance.

Actually I will dance "Swan Lake" with the Berlin Staatsoper for the first time in April. The date is 19 April.

Can you please tell me some of your guesting schedules for the coming year. And what other new roles will you make your debut in?

I really hope that after I've danced "Swan Lake" with the Berlin Staatsoper Ballet, I can also dance the ballet with the Kirov. In Berlin I also hope to dance in John Neumeier's production of "The Lady of the Camellias".

Besides I will dance in MacMillan's "Romeo and Juliet" with the ABT in New York in June. And I hope to continue to dance "Raymonda", because I only danced this role once in the Mariinsky Theatre last season.

Besides the Berlin Staatsoper and the Paris Opera Ballet, which other ballet companies in particular do you hope to guest with?

Of course I am interested to dance with more companies. After all there is only a handful of great ballet companies in the world. Certainly I would happily accept any invitations from the Royal Ballet, and the New York City Ballet for instance.

Which ballerinas do you particularly admire - in the Kirov or other companies?

I admire very much Natalia Makarova, Sylvie Guillem, and Alessandra Ferri. As for Ferri, her Juliet particularly touched me.



Diana Vishneva and Ilya Kuznetsov in Manon
Photograph by Natasha Razina ©


Are you happy now in the Kirov Ballet?

No question at all. I am really most happy to work for the Kirov Ballet in the Mariinsky Theatre. I feel very proud of being Russian, of being a citizen of this famous city, and working in this historic theatre. I feel very proud of being a ballerina of this great ballet company. And furthermore I am most fortunate to have the opportunities to travel abroad and to dance with other great ballet companies in the world.

Now that you are one of the top ballerinas in the world, what more is there for you to aim for?

There are still so many things left for me that should be done or could be done. Life is only just beginning for me. There are lots of great ballets that I haven't yet danced in, endless new roles, and there are many choreographers whom I haven't worked with yet. And even with my existing roles, there is still a lot of scope for me to improve on them and grow professionally. This process is endless.



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