Magazine article Gramophone

Svetlana Zakharova: The Bolshoi Prima Ballerina Talks about How Ballet Has Changed Her View of Music, and Also How the Art Form Has the Power to Change the Way We Hear Pieces We Thought We Knew

Magazine article Gramophone

Svetlana Zakharova: The Bolshoi Prima Ballerina Talks about How Ballet Has Changed Her View of Music, and Also How the Art Form Has the Power to Change the Way We Hear Pieces We Thought We Knew

Article excerpt

My first encounter with music was through the sounds of the toys I played with as a child. My family also had a record player and many records--I loved to listen to those and, as soon as I was grown up enough, I would put them on myself. I'd listen to children's songs and, because my father was a trumpet player, anything and everything connected to the trumpet, including jazz.

But it was only when I went to study at the Vaganova Ballet Academy that I began to gain a real appreciation of classical music, and that expanded further still when I started dancing professionally. My musical tastes have changed over the years, of course, largely dictated by the ballets I have danced--when I become immersed in a role, I've found that I start to hear the music differently. And if I ever hear a piece of music that I've danced to in the past, I immediately think of the steps--the two elements are intrinsically interlinked.

My husband, the violinist Vadim Repin, has totally changed my attitude to music. Before I met him, I'd be interested in how the ballet conductor would lead the orchestra so that the music would be comfortable for me to dance to (and this would sometimes mean significantly changing the tempo). It was only when I met Vadim that I started finding out more about his world, becoming more interested in it and exploring it more deeply. Now, when I'm dancing, one of the main priorities for me is to save the nature of the music as a whole, to preserve its emotion in its entirety--and that means no changes in tempo.

Another thing that has become a part of me is the extent to which the quality of a musical performance affects my own performance as a dancer. There are moments when an instrument--the solo violin in The Sleeping Beauty, for example--seems to be dancing with me. I listen to the quality of a performance, to how the instrument 'sings', and I appreciate it so much more now. And then a metamorphosis takes place--I find I start to move differently, and my solo starts to sing too. This partnership between a dancer and a musician or orchestra is so important.

The first time I saw the ballet Francesca da Rimini by the choreographer Yuri Possokhov I totally fell in love with it and knew I had to include it in 'Amore', a new project that has allowed me the freedom to explore, with some of my Bolshoi colleagues, three very different choreographic styles. …

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