by SOPHIA D’ADAMO Staff Writer
Thirty-four-year-old Prima Ballerina, Svetlana Zakharova, continuously brings joy and excitement to her audience as one of the most influential role models in the ballet world.
Born on June 10, 1979 in Lutsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union, Zakharova was destined to be a dancer.
At the beginning of her career, she was not introduced to ballet. Instead, at the age of six, she was brought to a local studio to take folk dancing classes. Four years later, she decided to audition for the Kiev Choreographic School.
Zakharova was forced to leave the school and move to East Germany due to her father’s reassignment in the army four months later.
When Zakharova and her family returned home to Ukraine, she auditioned again and was readmitted to the Kiev School. She continued her dance education with her teacher Valeria Sulegina in the second class.
In 1995, Zakharova completed six years of training at the Kiev Choreographic School and enrolled in the International Young Dancers’ Competition in St. Petersburg. This is where she received second place, performing the Blue Bird Pas de Deux from Tchaikovsky’s “Sleeping Beauty” as Princess Florine.
She then moved on to the Vaganova Academy and was part of the third class, also known as the graduating course. She graduated in 1996.
Freshman Gabriella Orpen said, “Svetlana is the most beautiful dancer to watch. Her feet are exquisite and she takes on the most challenging parts. She always makes them look so easy. It is amazing.”
In 1996, Zakharova joined the Marinsky Ballet when she was 17 years old. She made her first appearance as Maria in “The Fountain of Bakhchisarai”, choreographed by Rostislav Zakharov, and was given a position as a principal dancer.
Zakharova prepared for all of her roles with Olga Moiseyeva, who became a major component in Zakharova’s career.
While touring as a company member in the Marinsky ballet, she was requested by the New York City Ballet, the American Ballet Theatre, the Paris Opera Ballet, La Scala in Milan, the English National Ballet, and the New National Theatre Ballet in Tokyo.
From 2003 to 2004, she joined the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow and practiced with star ballerina Ludmilla Semenyaka.
Freshman Alexis Vigario said, “I think she is a beautiful dancer. She has the most amazing technique and grace.”
Zakharova has performed many parts in many classical ballets when she danced for both the Marinsky and Bolshoi Ballet. These ballets include Giselle, Carmen, Cinderella, Odette-Odile in “Swan Lake”, Aurora in “Sleeping Beauty”, Nikia in “La Bayadère”, Kitri in “Don Quixote”, Medora in “Le Corsaire”, and Magueritte in “Lady of the Camellias”.
“When I am prepare myself — do the makeup, warm up my body — I am highly nervous. But then there is some courage, some excitement in it too,” said Zakharova.
She has been a recipient of many awards, including the Golden Mask Award for her performances in “Serenade” in 1999 and “Sleeping Beauty” in 2000. She has also won the special St. Petersburg prizes of “Our hope” for her performance in “Baltika” in 1997 and “People of our city” for her achievements in ballet in 2001.
Zakharova won the Etoile Prize from the Italian “Danza&Danza” magazine in 2002. In 2005, she won the Benois de la Danse prize for her performance in “A Midsummer Night’s Dream”.
In 2007, she was given the Russian State Prize for her achievements in ballet. She was also given the Soul of the Dance award in 2007 from Russian magazine “Ballet”.
Zakharova has been the Honoured Artist of Russia since June 6, 2005. She has also been a People’s Artist of Russia since February 21, 2008.
“Ballet is not just my profession, it is my life … It is horrible for me to think that one day it will all finish,” said Zakharova.
Zakharova is considered to be one of the greatest ballerinas of her generation. She is known for being a technical ballerina, her beautiful footwork, exceptionally high extensions, musicality, gracefulness, and acting. There is not only strength, but beauty in her performances. She makes ballet look easy.
Zakharova most recently was in “Swan Lake” on April 6, performing at the Vienna State Ballet, and will be performing again on April 26.
What upcoming performances are you most excited about?