Backstage with Polina Semionova

Published in the April/May 2014 issue.

All photos by Matthew Murphy


One look at Polina Semionova, the Moscow-born American Ballet Theatre principal, tells you destiny chose her to be a ballerina. Her supermodel looks—with that beautifully elongated torso and even longer legs—have made her a natural dancer, as well as a featured model of UNIQLO’s AIRism clothing line.

Pointe went backstage with Semionova during American Ballet Theatre’s spring season last year as she prepared to dance Odette/Odile in Swan Lake with David Hallberg. “It’s a combination of everything—beauty, emotion, partnership, contrast, technique, power and mystery,” she says. Though she has performed the role many times, it remains not only a signature, but a personal favorite. “The ballet is a piece of art that will never die,” she says. “Every time I dance it, I feel very honored.”

Semionova at the Metropolitan Opera House stage door.

Hallberg and Semionova run through "Swan Lake" Act II pas de deux.

“Make it like an escape,” Hallberg says as they go through Odette’s struggle to break free of Siegfried’s embrace.

“Dancing with Polina feels very special. Our bodies communicate naturally.” —David Hallberg

Semionova with ABT principal Julie Kent during class: “There’s this indescribable feeling when you perform on the stage of the Metropolitan Opera with American Ballet Theatre in front of that enormous audience,” Semionova says.

“I’m really happy with class at ABT. They keep me in shape without making me feel tired, and the pianists are really good, which is so important.” —Polina Semionova

“My pointe shoes should be comfortable and not make too much noise. I always go for softer shoes because I like to feel the floor.”