Both of my parents were dancers. My mother was a principal dancer with the Perm State Ballet and my dad was a character dancer. Only my younger brother wanted nothing to do with dance. Since I spent so much time in the theater, my first performance on stage was accidental.
My mom was taking a bow and I ran on stage to see her. When I was old enough, naturally, my parents took me to a ballet school. At first, I was concerned that I was the only boy. But my shyness was something I soon overcame. I didn’t fall in love with ballet right away. It was very gradual for me. But male dancing always enamored me. All of the power they use really inspired me as I matured into a professional dancer.
I only participated in one competition in Perm, and took home the “young talent” prize. After I graduated from school, I was fortunate to dance at the Perm State Ballet for five years and became a soloist.
After a while, I wanted to explore the world more. So, I took class at the Dutch National Ballet and was offered a corps de ballet contract. I accepted the contract and moved to Amsterdam. Since I was used to being a soloist, it was hard for me, at first, for me to have taken a few steps backwards.
However, I knew this was the risk I was taking when I decided to leave Perm. Luckily, I had teachers in Amsterdam who really believed in me, and I progressed quickly through the ranks.
When I first moved to Amsterdam, everything was completely different than in Perm. I was in a total culture shock. Even the theater and repertoire were very different than everything I was used to.
In Perm, we had mostly done classical ballet. But in Amsterdam, one month we do Swan Lake, the next we do something contemporary. I was unprepared for the variety of dancing I would do. The language barrier was also hard at first too, but I learned quickly, and soon language was no longer an issue.
Even though the move was difficult, the most challenging part no longer being a soloist. Being back in the corps was a little discouraging. However, this made the solo roles I did get even more rewarding.
One of my happiest memories is of performing Swan Lake in Eindhofen, when our director came on stage and announced I had been promoted to soloist. It was an amazing moment and feeling. It made me feel like my hard work and sacrifice had paid off.
While my promotion to principal dancer was an up hill battle, it made me realize that in order to progress, there is never a moment to relax. You need to be ready for anything at a moment’s notice. To this day, I am very proud of the fact that I took a chance and moved to Amsterdam.
I think that in times of change, it’s important to believe that everything will be fine in the end. In ballet, even if you are working hard, you can always do more. But it’s up to the individual to challenge themselves and rise to any occasion.
Photos by Lupe Jelena