Top Russian dancer swans her way to SA


Her life is like something out of storybook. She first fell in love with ballet during a childhood trip to the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, Russia, to watch Swan Lake. It was then that Marina Rzhannikova knew she was destined to be a ballerina.

Rzhannikova, who is the prima ballerina for Stars of the Ballet Moscow, to be staged in Durban soon, explained: “I felt my interest in ballet sparked during my first visit with my mom to Bolshoi Theatre for Swan Lake. Already then I understood that to dance well was very difficult, but also very beautiful. Probably since that moment I have grown fond of ballet and love it up until now,” she said.

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Prima ballerina Marina Rzhannikova, in a scene from Swan Lake.Marina RjannikovaSwan Lake pas de deuxSwan lake Pas de Quatre

Rzhannikova is part of the cast of the best in Russian ballet who come to Durban this month courtesy of Edouard Miasnikov – who brought The Nutcracker here earlier this year.

Stars of the Ballet Moscow features artists from the leading ballet theatres of Moscow, including the Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow Classical Ballet, Russian National Ballet and the Moscow Kremlin Ballet.

They will perform some of ballet’s best-loved classical dances – Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake Act 2 in the first and second half, Ludwig Minkus’s Paquita Grand Pas, Camille Saint-Saens’s The Dying Swan, Adolf Adam’s Le Corsaire pas de deux, Tchaikovsky’s Russian Dance from Swan Lake and Jacques Offenbach’s The Grand Finale Can Can.

Rzhannikova is highly acclaimed in the ballet world, having won a prize and medal at the seventh International Ballet Competition in Moscow, and carries the title of Honoured Artist of Russia.

She said there was no secret to success, just dedication and hard work.

“Certainly to study was very difficult, if you think that at the age of 10 a child studies eight to 10 hours a day, then rehearses and participates in performances. And so for eight years every day I came to the Moscow State Ballet Academy early in the morning and left when it was dark on the street,” she said, adding: “But what pleasure when, step by step, I began to see myself develop into a ‘real’ professional ballerina, and my dreams for a future in ballet become a little more in reach.”

Asked what her most enjoyable character is, Rzhannikova said: “It is not so much the part I most enjoy playing, but when I’m playing my roles, it is interesting to see how that affects the audience. To see them touched and moved by a performance means that is the magic of the ballet in action. This is a very important thing for me and for every artist, and probably this is main reason my career brings me such joy,” she said.

After graduating from Moscow State Ballet Academy, Rzhannikova joined the Moscow Classical Ballet, where she is still a member.

The dancer said one of her most memorable moments was the birth of her daughter Nadia in 2002, which co-incidentally, caused her to miss a tour to South Africa.

“I’m now coming back to South Africa with the hope of a successful tour and expect a hospitable reception by audiences at all our performances.

“This will be my fifth visit to South Africa. I really like all of the cities we’ve been to, especially those near the ocean, like Durban. Perhaps I feel the power of nature,” she joked.

“I am very happy to come here once again as an artist who represents Russian culture.”

lStars of the Ballet Moscow stages at The Playhouse Opera Theatre on October 25 and 26 at 7.30pm. Tickets range from R135 to R225 and are available from Computicket: 083 915 8000. Early booking is advised.

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