Reverence: The Transcendent Svetlana Zakharova

Zakharova in Yuri Possokhov's Cinderella. Photo by Marc Haegeman.

You’re coming back from maternity leave. How does it feel?

It’s not easy! But as soon as I stepped back in the studio, I told myself: Svetlana, you have time to get back in shape. There used to be days when, if something went wrong in class, I wouldn’t leave until I got it right. I tried to take it easier this time.

What are the pluses—and minuses—of being a tall dancer?

Long lines, long hands I think are very beautiful. But it can be difficult to find a partner. I often have to decline offers to dance abroad because the partner wouldn’t suit me heightwise.

You always change a detail of your costume to make it yours. Why?

It’s great to have something that no one else has. Whenever possible, I like to work with costume designers, because they know how to tailor a costume to my body, how to emphasize my personality and also how to hide some things.

Who is your toughest critic?

My mom. She attends most of my performances, and if she likes something, it means it really was good.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

I stretch a bit for my back, my legs. And now, of course, I check how my daughter, Anna, is doing. She is usually also “stretching” in her sleep, but for different reasons!

What’s your biggest indulgence?

Taking a day off when I’m really exhausted. I’ll cancel class, rehearsals, and just rest.

You’re a member of parliament in Russia. What does that bring you?

It broadens my horizons because ballet is a very closed world. It allows me to be more in touch with what’s happening in Russia and abroad, and if people come to talk to me about their problems, I try to help them as much as I can.

Of which accomplishment are you the most proud?

I still see mistakes every day in the mirror, so I’m only really proud of the birth of my daughter. It’s my biggest achievement.

Ballet Training
Hortense Millet-Maurin (third from left) and her classmates perform August Bournonville's La Conservatoire. Svetlana Loboff, Courtesy POB.

As a little girl, Hortense Millet-Maurin fell in love with the wide spiral staircase that dominates the center of the Paris Opéra Ballet School. Today, as a focused 15-year-old POB student, she and her classmate Vincent Vivet navigate the school's spacious architecture on a daily basis. In a hallway strewn with foam rollers and tennis balls, their faces are laced with concentration as they prepare alongside their peers for afternoon ballet class. Color-coded uniforms reflect Vivet's and Millet-Maurin's third division; with only two advanced divisions remaining, they are increasingly close to realizing their professional aspirations: joining the Paris Opéra Ballet. Pointe spoke with these two young dancers to see what it's like studying inside the world's oldest ballet academy.

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Sponsored by Ballet Arizona
Tzu Chia Huang, Courtesy Ballet Arizona

These days, ballet dancers are asked to do more than they ever have—whether that's tackling versatile rep, taking on intense cross-training regimens or managing everything from their Instagram pages to their summer layoff gigs.

Without proper training, these demands can take a toll on both the mind and the body. But students can start preparing for them early—with the right summer intensive program.

The School of Ballet Arizona's summer intensive takes a well-rounded approach to training—not just focusing on technique and facility but nurturing overall dancer growth. "You cannot make a dancer just by screaming at them like they used to," says master ballet teacher Roberto Muñoz, who guests at the program every summer. "You have to take care of the person as well."

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Emily Giacalone, modeled by Elizabeth Steele of The School at Steps.

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Courtesy School of Pennsylvania Ballet

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