Can attending a ballet performance save a relationship? This is one of the many questions Diana Vishneva answered in her most recent interview with Grazia Russia and, as always, it is my great pleasure to bring you an English translation.

Translation by melmoth   |   Original Article (Russian)   |   Follow Diana on instagram

On the Power of Art

One time, a young couple approached me after a show and told me that my performance had saved their marriage. I was astounded! Evidently, art is truly capable of bringing people together, making them more sensitive and awakening empathy. This is why I am convinced that a lot can be achieved with concerts, performances, and artistic evenings. A personal tragedy surely isn’t the only way by which one arrives at philanthropy.

On Philanthropy

I try and help out whenever I can by, for instance, taking part in an auction to support Kseniya Rappoport’s charitable fund “Children-Butterflies”. Vladimir Smirnov’s initiative – The School of Positive Habits – resonates with me as well. Not long ago, it was my great pleasure to assist Chulpan Khamatova with the Viva la Vita gala, which was to be held at the Bolshoi in support of the “Gift a Life” charitable fund. Unfortunately, the event had to be cancelled because of the Coronavirus emergency. I hope that the gala does go ahead eventually.

On the Good and the Bad

In challenging situations, I draw strength from my family. They are my rock. Generally speaking, though, I feel that there is more good out in the world than there is bad. It’s all a matter of dialectics. You simply need to filter the information you get from the news correctly.

On the Context Festival

The program of this year’s Context Festival, our eighth one, is the most extensive one in its history, brimming with works of the masters: “Revisor” by the much thought-after Crystal Pite (Gogol, a satirical exploration of conflict, comedy and corruption in the potent relationship between language and the body by a Western choreographer – Moscow and St Petersburg have not seen anything like this before!); A cabaret show staged by the highly influential Ohad Naharin; and Alexey Miroshnichenko’s new ballet “Scheherazade”, which I will perform in. Naturally, our traditional competition for Russian choreographers will also run, and new foreign choreographers will be introduced [to the Russian audience].

On “Scheherazade”

Alexey Miroshnichenko’s ballet about Iran’s last royal rulers, Farah and Mohhamad Pahlavi, is based on a true story (a relatively rare occurrence in ballet), which makes it unique. Incidentally, the story itself isn’t ancient history: the abolition of monarchy in Iran and the banishment of the royal couple from the country took place at the end of last century, and Farah Pahlavi is still alive today. In February, Alexey and I were honoured to be received in her Paris residence. During this highly symbolic meeting, we presented Farah with sketches of the designs and samples of the fabrics from the main character’s costumes. I must note that this ballet isn’t about politics but is, first and foremost, about the people. Farah’s memories of her youth, her first meeting with Mohhamad, their wedding, the coronation, and the subsequent fall of a dynasty, are all carefully woven into the story. Rimsky-Korsakov’s famous music takes on a brand new sound in this ballet, though the choreographer made no changes to it.

On Modern Dance in Russia

Russian dance has undergone a remarkable transformation over the past ten years. There has been a lot of movement: choreographers are setting up studios both in major cities and in the regions; foreign teachers are invited over to run workshops; there are festivals, conferences and forums. A new generation of choreographers is being formed as we speak. Through our competition for young choreographers, I can see their desire to grow and develop beyond any limits.

On the New Generation

A few years ago I could not have imagined myself as a teacher, but then, at some point, I felt this need inside myself – a need to share my experience. I’m interested in helping young artists and ballet students to prepare for certain roles but, more importantly, I want to pass on my attitude towards this profession – the attitude instilled in me by my own teachers – the responsibly to one’s theatre and to one’s generation. I want to teach them not to waste time during rehearsals, to always seek new knowledge and experiences that will help shape each role, and to avoid rushing into doing everything at once: set a clear goal and methodically work towards it.

On the Diana Vishneva Foundation

This year, the Diana Vishneva Foundation for the Coordinated Development of Ballet is turning ten years old. The idea first occurred to me when I celebrated by fifteenth year performing with the Mariinsky Theatre. At that point, I realised that I wanted to do more for the arts and the society – something beyond simply performing. Assisting children and the veterans of the stage was one of the first missions I identified for myself. The key role of the foundation – the idea of supporting the development of modern dance in Russia – came later. This is how Context, the annual international festival of modern choreography, and Studio Context Pro were created in St Petersburg. I hope that, in the near future, these developments will lead to the launch of a Centre for Modern Dance.

YULIYA SKYA is an online archive of some of my more substantial articles and reviews. For daily updates, please follow the live blog:

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