The Marvelous Maria Kochetkova

The SFB principal takes a bold leap forward with her career.
Published in the June/July 2009 issue.

You recently danced your first complete Swan Lake. What would you change in your next performance?
Every time I do a role, I start again from the beginning; you see things differently three months later. Here, the challenge was to create two completely different characters, one of them an ideal woman.

What was the response within the dance community?
I received a phone call afterwards from Natalia Makarova, who said, “Masha, I think you have been watching my videos.” She gave me many good corrections.

How did you end up on Superstars of Dance on TV, and how did you choose your variations?
NBC called me, and I asked Helgi Tomasson if he would release me during Nutcracker season. He said, “Go for it.” There was little time to prepare, so I did what I knew: the variations for Kitri and Medora.

How did people react to your appearances?
I received more than 2,000 e-mails on my website. In some ways, the show was an annoying experience. Although I won, I don’t really like competitions.

How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
I prefer them hard. I break the box, and that’s it. I want them to hold up through the performance.

What would be your ideal performance?
Ideal is impossible. Technically, it can always be better.

How does the Russian ballet world compare with the American one?
In Russia, the training is about quality, breathing, lyricism in the movement. American training is about speed and precision, which makes the dancing here more exciting.

What inspires you?
A walk in the mountains, a good movie, a great conversation. You can find inspiration all around you.

What qualities do you admire most in other dancers?
I enjoy watching dancers with beautiful upper bodies, arms and backs.

To whom do you attribute your success?
This will sound like the Oscars: My grandmother, who got me into gymnastics, figure skating and piano lessons. And my mom, for always believing in me. And the directors of the Bolshoi School—when you think you want to give up, there’s always someone to help.