What do you enjoy more: performing or being in the studio?
Performing, of course. It's like waiting and getting ready for your birthday party. The rehearsals are a hard process: It's a long wait for enjoyment.
What qualities do you admire most in other dancers?
A brain. Some say that a ballerina only needs good footwork, physical abilities, but I realized gradually that it's very important to have a good head on your shoulders. You go further if you think deeply about your roles.
What do you do to remain injury-free? I always warm up properly, and I also have massages and water treatments to relax and soothe my body. Sometimes I go to the banya, a typical Russian sauna.
You created the lead role in Jean-Christophe Maillot's The Taming of the Shrew. What place does it have in your repertoire?
A very significant one. It's so precious when a ballet is made on you. So many dancers wait for that, try to find choreographers. If you are the very first person to do a role, it stays with you—and you stay in it, in a way.
The Taming of the Shrew requires naturalistic acting and a certain vulnerability. How did you adjust to that? It wasn't easy to do, especially in the bedroom scene in Act II, when the Shrew and Petruchio fall in love. It's not about dancing or pirouettes there—you have to feel it, to give meaning to every step.
How hard was it to adapt to Maillot's style? It was actually easy. I felt very comfortable in his style, as if I'd been dancing it all my life. I'm like a fish in the water in Maillot's choreography.
To whom would you attribute your success?
First, my parents, who gave me great care and love. And my teachers and coaches. I don't want to be too modest, either: I think I also deserved it through perseverance.
What's the toughest part of being a dancer?
The morning after a performance, when you have to get up and go back to work. After a successful show, you want to keep basking in that glow, and the next day you're exhausted, everything hurts, and you have to start at the barre again.
If you weren't a dancer, what would you be?
Sometimes I think I'd be a dentist. As a child, I liked it! But now I might also want to be a designer.
How would you like to be remembered? Young and beautiful! Not like a shrew, hopefully.
The Bolshoi Ballet will be performing The Taming of the Shrew in NYC at Lincoln Center's David H. Koch Theater, July 26-30.