(Photo by Erik Tomasson)
You trained partly at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, DC. What's the most important thing you got out of that experience?
The opportunity to go to Russia at age 16. Oleg Vinogradov, the director at the time, chose me to be an apprentice with the Kirov (now Mariinsky) Ballet. I worked with Andris Liepa and Ninel Kurgapkina, and took class next to ballerinas like Diana Vishneva and Uliana Lopatkina. It was an honor.
Since then, you spent your entire career at San Francisco Ballet. How have you grown as a dancer?
When I first came I was very focused on technique. I was 18, in the corps, and all of a sudden I was Sugar Plum. At this point 20 years later, I'm focused on the emotional aspects of my performance. I'm not concerned about how many turns I'm going to do, or how long I'm going to balance.
How do you prepare for full-length ballets?
Longtime San Francisco Ballet principals (and husband and wife) Davit Karapetyan and Vanessa Zahorian have announced their retirement at the end of the 2017 season. They'll make a cross-country move to become the joint artistic directors of the Pennsylvania Ballet Academy. In addition to new directors, the academy will have a brand new facility, beginning this summer.
Zahorian trained at one of Pennsylvania's other top schools, the Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet. During her 20-year career with SFB, she was known for interpretations of all the major classics, as well as her roles in major works by current choreographers like Christopher Wheeldon and Mark Morris. Karapetyan joined SFB as a principal in 2005, after dancing with Zurich Ballet.
There will be a farewell performance for both dancers at the end of the season.
San Francisco is in the midst of a generational shift, as three principal men retired last year. There will be lots of room for promotions in the next few years, and we're excited to see the future success of the company's many talented dancers!