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What's It Like to Star in a Bolshoi Cinema Event? Svetlana Zakharova Explains.

Zakharova in "Swan Lake." Photo by B. Stoess, Courtesy Bolshoi.

Mark your calendars! This Sunday, the Bolshoi Ballet, in partnership with Fathom Events, kicks off its 2016-17 Bolshoi Ballet in Cinema Series. Between now and April, seven Bolshoi productions will be high-beamed to movie theaters around the world (400 in the U.S. alone), giving ballet lovers a chance to see the legendary company on the big screen.

In addition to standard classics like The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake, this season is book-ended by two uniquely Russian ballets not performed by other companies, starting with Yuri Grigorovich's The Golden Age on October 16. Set in a cabaret during the Roaring 20s, The Golden Age is a Soviet love story between Boris, a young fisherman, and Rita, a dancer with connections to a local gangster. Yuri Possokhov's A Hero of Our Time, based on the great Russian literary classic of the same name, closes out the season in April.

In an exclusive interview, Pointe spoke with Bolshoi prima ballerina Svetlana Zakharova about what it's like to perform for the camera.


What is it like backstage when you know you're being filmed live?

I feel a great amount of stress because I know so many people are watching. I get so nervous and tired that it takes me a week to recover afterwards! Although it doesn't really matter if it is a regular performance or a live streaming—I always get nervous beforehand. But once I step onstage and start getting into my character, I don't have any more worries. I'm just dancing and enjoying the show.

One of the ballets, Yuri Possokhov's A Hero of Our Time, has never been seen in the U.S. Can you tell us about it?

A Hero of Our Time is based on a very famous Russian novel by Mikhail Lermontov. The ballet features three chapters of the book: “Bela," “Toman" and “Princess Mary." It's such a great show because it was choreographed on the Bolshoi and showcases a lot of different artists throughout. I play Princess Mary, and I'm absolutely in love with her character.

Why is it so important to make these Bolshoi performances available to audiences worldwide?

This gives people who cannot otherwise come to the theater a chance to see the Bolshoi. And it helps to expand audiences. Of course, a lot of people who come are ballet fans, but many are not—they just want to see what it's like. Lots of my friends told me they saw the advertisements and came just out of curiosity, and they were surprised by how amazing the show was. Visually, it rocked their world! I'm really glad I have this opportunity to show my art, and to show it in high quality. Because from time to time, people record me and put it on YouTube, but the quality is not great--not like something that's been filmed for a movie theater.

Catch Zakharova in Swan Lake on February 5, 2017. Casting for the other productions has not yet been released. The full cinema schedule is below; to find a theater near you, visit the Fathom Events website.

The Golden Age – Sunday, October 16, 2016 at 12:55 pm ET and PT/11:55 am CT/10:55 am MT

The Bright Stream – Sunday, November 6, 2016 at 12:55 pm local time

The Nutcracker – Sunday, December 18, 2016 at 12:55 pm local time

The Sleeping Beauty – Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 12:55 pm ET and PT/11:55 am CT/10:55 am MT

Swan Lake – Sunday, February 5, 2017 at 12:55 local time

A Contemporary Evening – Sunday, March 19, 2017 at 12:55 pm ET and PT/11:55 am CT/10:55 am MT/ 9:55 am PT

A Hero of Our Time – Sunday, April 9, 2017 at 12:55 pm ET and PT/11:55 am CT/ 10:55 am MT

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