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Ballerinas from Russia, Germany and Kazakhstan on working conditions and how to become a soloist of the theatre


Ballerinas from Russia, Germany and Kazakhstan on working conditions and how to become a soloist of the theatre

Elizaveta Taranda, 24 years old, hometown ― Moscow, a leading ballerina in Classical Russian Ballet Theatre

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About the beginning

I have danced a lot since I was a kid. Often dressed up, put makeup and climbed on the big table, which was for me a stage. On it, I have been performing 54 dances of the world's nations, which I composed myself.

My mother took me to the theatre and backstage, where ballerinas dressed me up in their crowns and tutu gloves. The decision to go to the ballet was because of the desire to dance to beautiful music, which often sounded at home. At first, I went dancing classes, at school, I was engaged in rhythmic gymnastics. After I learned in the preparatory courses at the Academy of Choreography. In this school, I began my journey and graduated from the MGHU at MGATT GZHEL in the class of Andrei Evdokimov.

I decided to become a professional ballerina in the fifth grade of the school. Since then, a lot has changed in me, and I realized that desire and love to dance it is not enough. It is necessary to make efforts, to have scrupulosity and diligence.

About ballet in Russia

Any ballet school accepts to the first class at the age of 10 years, when the skeleton is already formed and the child is ready for strict discipline and hard work. Of course, preparatory classes and courses will benefit before admission. All children are strictly selected. Ballet is a complex art in which physical standards are important, as the perfect body is less exposed to injuries. Also, children undergo a medical examination and artistic evaluation.

Ballet is a complex art in which physical standards are important

Thanks to the opening of many ballet schools and studios throughout Russia, it has become much easier for dance lovers to enter ballet. Everyone is able to try themselves. Ten years of training are required to achieve a professional level, as well as the formation of the body as a tool from childhood.

In my opinion, in Russia, the level of ballerinas training and choreographic schools still remain at a high level. Our artists are highly appreciated all over the world. However, foreign schools and theatres have got our teachers and connected the Western and Russian schools. Artists from America and France actively use modern sports equipment for feet and body training.

Russia has an unsurpassed combination of artistry, the emotional content of the role in combination with a bravura technique

There are many choreographic schools in Russia. In my opinion, the best one is the Vaganova ARB. Most of the students of this Academy become soloists of the best theatres in the world. However, despite the demand, the artist often chooses native walls. It means traditional education of the school, and I deeply respect and honour traditions. Russia has an unsurpassed combination of artistry, the emotional content of the role in combination with bravura technique.

Foreign ballet is free in modern dance, as it was born there. They set the rules of the game and know them better than anyone. I think it is worth learning from everyone: the technique of feet from the French, and strength and freedom from the Americans.

About working conditions

The work of a ballerina consists of constant development and reflection. As far as you discipline yourself, force, teach, develop, so a level of dance and skill increases. In observation, diligence, obedience to teachers and perseverance are all the secrets of success.

Not every ballerina is destined to become a prima ballerina, as it requires a certain combination of circumstances, hard work and interest in you as a person, a character on stage, a professional artist. Management assigns this status only to those in whom they see uniqueness, a set of unusual components that distinguish the ballerina from others.

Mathematically difficult to calculate our work schedule. Morning class is an hour, and rehearsal is two hours, the performance is about three hours.

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However, the question is not how long you were training, but how effective you spent this time. I used to think that the more I train, the better I dance. Strength and endurance increased, but now I try to work more thoughtfully on choreography.

Back in school, I performed a lot, so the beginning of work in the theatre, for me, was quite logical. Now I work in the Classical Russian Ballet under the direction of Hassan Usmanov. The team is quite young, a lot of young people. However, the main part it's wonderfully talented and highly professional artists who have studied and worked with amazing artists. They have big stage experience and freedom. Each performance of our soloists is a kind of master class for me.

I graduated as a ballet critic under the guidance of Professor Valeria Uralskaya, editor-in-chief of The ballet magazine, with whom I trained throughout my studies. A feature of critic's work in the combination of personal experience, the ability to ask, argue, search for truth and a proper description of the dance. At the moment, I am published in the online edition Sportich under the guidance of Victoria Davydova and collect material for possible scientific work in the speciality of ballet critic.

Unfortunately, the work of the artist is constantly belittled and devalued. State theatres at least have some support but the situation is the same everywhere. Even in the main theatres of the country, the initial rate is 12,000 rubles. Only thanks to surcharges for performances, awards and part-time artists manage to lead a more or less average standard of living. On the so-called hack work, we often earn way more than on the whole performance. But we wanted to get into the ballet world, so we have to deal with it.

Advise for ballerinas

A good ballerina should have attentiveness, perseverance, diligence, the integrity of personality, broad outlook, which she would be able to apply in dance.

About plans

Dance better and more.

Iana Salenko, 35 years old, hometown ― Kiev, prima ballerina at the State Berlin Theatre


About the beginning

At the age of 12, I decided that I wanted to become a professional ballerina. During the casting, the teacher asked me if I really wanted to do ballet. She said it was too late to start ballet when I was 12, but if I promised to try my best, I might be able to do it. At that time I knew only one ballerina who inspired me very much — Maya Plisetskaya.

I started training at the «Kiyanochka» academy of dance in Kiev and then graduated from the ballet school of Donetsk, from Vadim Pisarev.

About ballet in Berlin

Berlin has a good ballet school, but the level of ballet itself, in my opinion, is average. Here many artists were selected from different countries, and they have passed different schools of ballet. This fact sometimes creates difficulties in the construction of the corps de ballet.

The Berlin ballet is most often performing in the modern style. I think this is due to the fact that young artists are more interested in modern ballet than classical. Accordingly, the repertoire here is quite different. The Berlin public loves modern productions, so every year a completely new ballet is staged here. Another feature in three scenes at the Berlin State Theatre. In the past, these were two independent companies, which were later merged into the Berlin State Theatre.

About working conditions

It is best to start doing gymnastics and dance from an early age, as this increases the chance of developing artistry and coordination of the whole body. The official age for ballet is 10 years.


I started my career at the age of 16, right after school, at the Donetsk Opera and Ballet Theatre. At the age of 18, I returned to the relatives in Kiev and began working at the National Opera and Ballet Theatre. And I started my way at the Berlin Opera and ballet theatre at the age of 21. However, the geography of my work does not end there. I am a frequent guest in theatres around the world: Royal Ballet in London, Mariinsky Theatre, Roman Theatre, Hong Kong Theatre, ballet theatres in Slovenia, Japan, Poland and many other countries.

In order to become a prima ballerina, you have to work twice as hard as usual and be a fan of ballet, listen and try to do everything perfectly. However, the most important thing for me is loving people who can believe in you and support you in every endeavour.

In order to become a prima ballerina, you have to work twice as hard as usual and be a fan of ballet, listen and try to do everything perfectly

A professional ballerina works four hours a day, but a lot depends on her repertoire. We work almost every day, and we have one day off. But when we have a busy schedule of performances, the weekend does not happen. Ballerinas do not have a normalized working day, and every day is not like another. At one time you can engage in standard training, and the other to spend the whole day in the theatre, rehearsing the production.

Beginners find it difficult to find their place in the Berlin ballet. There is a strict selection process on the casting only three to 10 people are selected from the 500 people.

The salary of a ballerina depends on her position. For example, the average salary of the corps de ballet in Europe starts from 1500 euros per month. But people come to ballet not to earn money. You won't make much money here. Only the most famous artists can rightly be considered rich, but at the moment the price of the work is falling rapidly.

Advise for young ballerinas

A good ballerina is characterized by kindness and the ability to easily overcome changes and difficulties.

I advise beginners to start thinking seriously about whether they really want to become professional ballerinas. If the answer is Yes, then they need to tune in to independence and sincerely love the job.

And to try to make ballet better, to learn new techniques and styles, to learn more information as these things will help beginners to understand the desires of the teacher and director.

About plans

I don't plan any big projects and big changes yet. I dream to try something new and constantly pretend my dreams into reality.

Dilyara Shomaeva, 30 years old, hometown — Almaty, Kazakhstan, leading soloist of Astana Ballet


About the beginning

I did not decide to become a ballerina, because I was very young. I was 10 years old, but my mother loved ballet. I remember she took me to performances for GATOB named after Abay. By the age of 10, I was already professionally engaged in rhythmic gymnastics, and once my mother asked me if I wanted to dance as well as the girls on the stage. Of course, I agreed, because it was so easy and beautiful. So my mother persuaded me to go to the choreographic school, and I was taken.

I have studied with such great teachers as Suleeva Bakhyt Tulepbergenova, Goncharova Natalia Lvovna, and graduated from Kadyrova Maira Shavkatovna. I am immensely grateful to all of them, and they believed in me.

About ballet in Kazakhstan

Ballet in Kazakhstan was born in the 30s of the 20th century and during this time made a huge leap. Several professional theatres in our country are an indicator of the high level of ballet. Not without pride, I can say that our Astana Ballet theatre holds performances of the classical and modern repertoire. Our ballet does not stand still, there is a development of academic and classical ballet in its new directions. Our ballet is also more accessible to the audience. Prices for performances are much lower in comparison with foreign counterparts.

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Recently in Astana has opened The Kazakh National Academy of Choreography, which trains professional ballet dancers. The first graduates of this Academy have already joined the ranks of our theatres, and at the moment there are two professional ballet schools in Kazakhstan.

I believe that the Kazakh ballet school provides an excellent professional education. Traditionally, our choreographic schools are built on the system of the Russian ballet school. According to the Russian system, admission begins at the age of 10. But progress does not stand still and in recent years began to take children of an earlier age. This gives a chance for high results, but I still think 10 years is the best age to start a professional career in ballet.

I believe that the Kazakh ballet school provides an excellent professional education

As for me, ballet in Kazakhstan is not much different from what is in the world. Ballet as an art will be understood everywhere, anywhere in the world. Ballet is a unifying art that can tell a lot without words.

However, there is a well-known fact: Kazakhstan ballet is not strong in modern ballet, but has a good level in classical ballet.

Modern ballet is highly developed in the West, but we also try to keep up. Every year we are visited by many foreign artists and directors who try to put a modern ballet. I believe that it will all come to a good level, just need a little time.

About working conditions

The work of a ballerina, like any other work, requires a certain dedication and effort. The most important quality for a ballerina is love for the profession. If you truly love what you do, then any difficulties will be surmountable.

It is not difficult to become a ballet dancer, and you only need to start practising in time. But it is worth noting that if in the first year the number of students reaches 100, by the end of the graduation the number is reduced to 15-20. For eight years of training, many are expelled, someone leaves by realizing that all the chic and brilliance of the stage are only a small part of the ballet world.

After graduating from the choreographic school, the artist takes the lowest position in the theatre in the corps de ballet. The corps de ballet itself has several gradations and have soloists. The artist goes through all the stages, growing and gaining experience before becoming the main soloist. However, becoming an artist of the corps de ballet is a great achievement and the fruit of great efforts. It is not difficult to become a ballet dancer, and you only need to start practising in time.

Becoming a prima ballerina is a confluence of many factors. If you were lucky, you would come to the theatre at the right time, found a good teacher, with whom you have established a trusting relationship, your body is ready for overload, your team happily accepted you then you are a lucky one. But this is only a small part of the factors that affect the formation of the artist soloist, prima.

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After graduating from the Almaty choreographic school, I joined the Opera and Ballet Theatre named after Abay in Almaty and worked there for seven seasons. I reached the status of a soloist, performed at premieres and played leading roles, passed all the steps from the corps de ballet to the soloist. After I moved to Astana and started working in Astana Ballet, where I continue my activities to this day. I am glad that I came to this team because my work here is different from what I did in Almaty. In Astana Ballet many modern performances are staged, foreign teachers are invited. I got a chance to try something new and incredibly happy about it. Now I am the leading soloist of Astana Ballet.

We work every day from nine to six with only one day off a week. If we have a small load, we can work less, and if we have an important premiere then we work seven days a week and often stay in the theatre.

I think ballerinas are very superstitious people. Personally, I am sensitive to my ballet shoes, and I need to be engaged in their preparation, it helps me to tune in the right way and carry out the ritual. Each artist has his own ritual before the performance.

Advise for young ballerinas

The main qualities of a ballerina, for me, are efficiency, endurance, expressiveness and musicality. Ballet is not a sport, how would technically neither was savvy, all this does not matter, as long as your movements are not meaningful.

The main qualities of a ballerina, for me, are efficiency, endurance, expressiveness and musicality

I wish beginners to listen to their teachers, not to waste time in vain, always be open to the world, believe in their success and do not feel sorry for themselves.

About plans

I want theatre and art to accompany me all my life. Recently I have started teaching, but I do not know if it is for me. I also started writing short notes from the position of a professional ballet dancer for our PR Department. I like this activity and learn something new. I would like to have more opportunities to travel in the future. I want to watch live the changes in the world of ballet, theatre and art. In my opinion, the world is now filled with art: there is no corner of the planet where art would not flourish, and I would like to be part of this world.

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