Ballet Stars

The Mariinsky Ballet's Uliana Lopatkina: Purity and Power

Lopatkina and Danila Korsuntsev in Balanchine's "Symphony in C." Photo by N. Razina, Courtesy Mariinsky Theater.

Last weekend, the Mariinsky Ballet announced on its website that one of its most revered prima ballerinas, Uliana Lopatkina, has retired from the stage. A principal dancer since 1995, Lopatkina's interpretation of Odette/Odile and "The Dying Swan", among other roles, was legendary. To honor her dance career, we're re-visiting this interview from the February/March 2013 issue.


What's the toughest part of being a dancer?

More than most professions, ballet erodes the private sphere. You don't fulfill yourself in this career: You serve it; you're a slave to it.


What ballet makes you most nervous?

Swan Lake. Even if it's not the most difficult ballet to perform, it's difficult in another way, a mystical way.



You've been dancing Swan Lake for nearly 20 years. Are you still discovering new things in it?

Yes, but the choreography and the traditions behind it are limiting. All you can bring to it is nuances, and not everyone can see them. I also have my limits. Odile can be very evil, brutal, and I could try that, but I don't want the audience to see me that way.



Of which accomplishment are you most proud?

Perhaps the birth of my daughter, but it's not an accomplishment; it's a gift for me to have been able to have a child.


Who is your toughest critic?

My mother. She comes to all my performances in St. Petersburg. I don't even want to call her afterwards, but she calls me!


What do you do to stay injury-free?

I try to be very reasonable with rehearsals, to warm up well and be precise in the studio. You have to treat your body like a child: Don't indulge its whims, but know the limits of what it can endure.


When you're offstage, are you more sneakers and sweatpants or high heels?

Neither. I like wearing ballet flats, jeans and a lace top or something made of natural fibers.


What do you do on your days off?

I try to think of ways I can keep my figure!


What would you take with you to a desert island?

My faith in God.


How would you like to be remembered?

With very simple words: She was a good person.

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

In fall 2012, New York City Ballet associate artistic director Wendy Whelan, then a company principal, was taking morning class when her foot slid out from under her, causing her to pull the very top of what felt like her right hamstring muscle. "It shocked me from the inside out," she notes.

Whelan spent three months nursing her hamstring. But once she got back to performing, her right hip flexor began flaring up. "By the end of Nutcracker season, I could no longer bear standing in fifth position. I could not lift my right leg without severe pain," she says. "I couldn't imagine why or how this was suddenly becoming so debilitating." A sonogram revealed a complex labral tear in Whelan's hip.

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Courtesy Grishko ltd. (Moscow, Russia)

If you're one of the many American ballet dancers who loyally wear Grishko pointe shoes, you may have noticed something different about your shoes recently.

In the midst of a lawsuit, Grishko ltd. is now selling in the U.S. under the name Nikolay to reduce confusion and ensure that American dancers get the high-quality shoes they've come to expect.

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Ballet Stars

Carlos Acosta and Tamara Rojo both took The Royal Ballet by storm when they arrived at the company in 1998 and 2000, respectively. Virtuosic, enigmatic performers, the two forged a storied partnership over the course of their next decade together at The Royal. Now they've both gone on to lead the next generation of ballet dancers in England: Rojo has been the artistic director of English National Ballet since 2012, and Acosta will take the helm of Birmingham Royal Ballet in January. With this 2007 clip of their balcony scene from Sir Kenneth MacMillan's Romeo and Juliet, it's easy to see why they are already the stuff of ballet legend.

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Rachel Neville, Courtesy Audition Dancewear

When you dig through your collection of leotards before class, do you ever think about how they're made, or what they're made from? Chances are, most dancers don't, and Audition Dancewear wants to do something about that.

The company—run by two mother-daughter duos, Kathy and Caroline Perry and Shelly and Suzanna Lathrum—has begun making leotards from recycled materials to reduce their carbon footprint and raise awareness around plastic consumption. The result is a sleek line of leos that don't sacrifice style or function, and that use four or five recycled water bottles per leo.

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