Irina Kolesnikova with Kimin Kim in Swan Lake. Courtesy Konstantin Tachkin.

Russian Ballerina Irina Kolesnikova Makes U.S. Debut in "Swan Lake"

This weekend, Irina Kolesnikova will appear on a U.S. stage for the first time, dancing alongside Bolshoi Ballet star Denis Rodkin. The Russian ballerina is a member of St. Petersburg Ballet Theatre, a touring company helmed by Konstantin Tachkin that will appear at the Brooklyn Academy of Music February 15-16. Before joining SPBT in 1998, Kolesnikova, a native of St. Petersburg, graduated from the city's esteemed Vaganova Ballet Academy. Koleniskova spent just two years in the company's lower ranks before being promoted to principal.


Though Kolesnikova's favorite roles include Nikiya, Giselle and Juliet, she's best known for dancing Swan Lake's Odette/Odile. Going forward, she also dreams of taking on parts like Manon, Anna Karenina and Marguerite from Marguerite and Armand. "I like roles where I can express emotions and loves," Koleniskova told Pointe through a translator earlier this week. Though when it comes to Swan Lake, she prefers playing Odile. "A negative character is a fun place to find something new to act and to approach," she says. "It's more enjoyable."

Kolesnikova, dressed in a white Odette costume leans back against Rodkin with her arms in the air.

Kolesnikova will take the stage with Denis Rodkin this weekend.

Courtesy Konstantin Tachkin

And indeed, practice seems to be the hard-working ballerina's approach to her on-the-road lifestyle. "Otherwise you cannot go through two-and-a-half hours of a performance, so you always have to rehearse, even when you have a day off," she says. Kolesnikova spends any precious time out of the studio with her and Tachkin's six-year-old daughter, who frequently joins them on tour.

SPBT will present a traditional Swan Lake production based on Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov's early version. "I hope the audience can tell the difference between our version and United States companies'," she says of SPBT's Vaganova legacy. In terms of coming to the U.S., Kolesnikova feels a sense of responsibility in representing the tradition from which she hails. "It's a long way to debut, and an important step for us and our company," she says.

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