Eleonora Sevenard

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“In ballet, everything depends on you alone: on your wits, your capacity for hard work, and your physical qualities. My relation to Matilda Kshesinskaya is of no help to me in this regard. I think that the role she has played in the ballet world subconsciously pulls me forward and makes me want to achieve a successful ballet career.”


Interview by Yulia Pnyova for Voci dell’Opera
Translated by melmoth
Photos by Darian Volkova and Katerina Kravtsova


Eleonora, did you want to be a ballerina as a child, or was it your parents’ decision? Or were you, perhaps, inspired by your famous relative?

I’ve been doing ballet since I was a child. I’ve always loved dancing, but it was my mum who brought me to Vaganova Ballet Academy. Of course, she asked me whether I wanted to do it. Once I said yes, we decided to try auditioning.

When I was a child, my parents would often take me to the theatre. At home, my family often spoke of Matilda Kshesinskaya and we kept some of her old costumes, but we have since donated them to the Academy’s museum. I think this, too, must have played a role in my choice.

Do you often think about Kshesinskaya when you’re studying at the Academy? How do people treat you when they find out that you are Kshesinskaya’s descendant?

Yes, of course. The Academy’s halls are decorated with portraits and photographs of great dancers, the people who have made a huge contribution to the art of ballet. Among them, there are photographs of Matila Kshesinskaya. Naturally, while within the walls of this school, it is impossible to forget that one is related to such a great ballerina.

Everyone reacts differently. Mostly, people get curious.

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Does [being related to Kshesinskaya] help you? Do you find studying difficult in general?

In ballet, everything depends on you alone: on your wits, your capacity for hard work, and your physical qualities. My relation to Matilda Kshesinskaya is of no help to me in this regard. I think that the role she has played in the ballet world subconsciously pulls me forward and makes me want to achieve a successful ballet career.

Studying at Vaganova Ballet Academy is a great joy and a privilege. This is my final year. Our job is never easy, but all the hard work is worth the moments of joy you experience on stage.

Would you like to be like Kshesinskaya? By the by, your last name is quite rare too. What are its origins?

Every dancer must have their own individuality; that is what determines their value as an artist.

My last name has French origins.

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You get to work with Nikolai Tsiskaridze. Is he a strict teacher?

Yes, I am currently rehearsing with Nikolai Maximovich. He is a very demanding teacher, but there is no other way. I am very glad to have this opportunity. You leave his rehearsals having absorbed new knowledge and having been set new goals and given a list of issues to fix by the next rehearsal. More importantly, rehearsing with Nikolai Maximovich gives you strength and a desire to work harder and improve.

What are you working on right now?

Right now, I am preparing for Vaganova Prix. I will be performing the Black pas de deux from “Swan Lake”. I will also take part in the performances of “The Fairy Doll” and “The Nutcracker” at the Mariinksy Theatre.

What does your typical day at the Academy look like?

In the morning, I wake up and get ready to go to the Academy. My day starts at 9:20am and is filled with classes, lectures and rehearsals. Our lunch break is longer than is regular schools – 45 minutes – which gives us a bit of time to rest. I come home at around eight o’clock in the evening.

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Is it important for a ballet dancer to have an ear for music?

Of course, it is very important. A ballerina can’t dance “on her own”. The dance must go hand-in-hand with the music.

Who are your favorite ballerinas and danseurs?

I adore many dancers, and I would struggle to pick just one. Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of videos of Plisetskaya and Maximova and Vasiliev.

What roles do you dream of dancing?

I would really like to dance in any ballet from the classical repertoire. Each one is a masterpiece, and every ballerina dreams of dancing in them.

Is ballet your whole life?

Yes.

If you had a chance to change something in you past, what would it be?

I wouldn’t change anything. Everything that happens teaches us something. Everything happens for a reason.

Eleonora, you are very beautiful. Do you get offers from famous photographers often? Do you take part in commercial shoots?

Thank you. Yes, I work with ballet photographers quite often. I have shot personal projects with Katerina Kravtsova and Darian Volkova, but I haven’t done any commercial shoots yet.

How do you feel about opera?

I like it. My parents took me to the opera when I was little. Unfortunately, I have not seen much of it yet. It is all ahead of me still.

Do you agree that a gifted person will always find fame?

I think that a gifted person is impossible to miss, but not everyone can gain fame.

What would you wish yourself for the future?

First and foremost: health and strength. Without them, the rest is impossible.

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