William Forsythe rehearses Kochetkova and San Francisco Ballet corps member Francisco Mungamba in his Pas/Parts. Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Bicoastal Ballerina: Inside Maria Kochetkova's Fabulous Life

This story originally appeared in the December 2015/January 2016 issue of Pointe.

Maria Kochetkova has a voracious appetite for inspiration. A principal dancer with San Francisco Ballet since 2007, she spent the last few years guesting with American Ballet Theatre during their spring season. “ABT is very different from SFB—it has a very different rep, it has very different dancers, incredible dancers you can learn from," says Kochetkova. Last summer, she joined the company as an official principal, taking on a grueling schedule that leaves her shuttling between California and New York.

“I really wanted to learn more and also try to balance my repertoire," she says. “San Francisco Ballet does a lot of new and more contemporary works—we don't always do full-length and classical ballets, which I feel I need. And at ABT, you get the full-length classicals, but not so many contemporary works."


Kochetkova spent July through late September working with SFB before flying to New York for ABT's fall repertoire season through early November. Her spring schedule looks just as busy. “Overall, I'll spend half of my time in San Francisco, and half in New York," she says. As for vacation time? “I usually travel a lot during the off-season, but I had to cut down. But that's okay. I'm more interested in learning something new."

Photo by Erik Tomasson, Courtesy SFB.

Kochetkova goes through the music for a ballet she's learning during her break. "At SFB, it's almost a little easier for me. I've been there for so long that I'm familiar with most of the rep and it takes me less time to learn things because I've done most of it before. And all my partners are familiar, too, so I can jump in a lot quicker."

Latest Posts


Getty Images

The History of Pointe Shoes: The Landmark Moments That Made Ballet's Signature Shoe What It Is Today

Pointe shoes, with their ability to elevate a dancer both literally and metaphorically to a superhuman realm, are the ultimate symbol of a ballerina's ethereality and hard work. For students, receiving a first pair of pointe shoes is a rite of passage. The shoes carry an almost mystical allure: They're an endless source of lore and ritual, with tips, tricks and stories passed down over generations.

The history of pointe shoes reveals how a delicately darned slipper introduced in the 1820s has transformed into a technical tool that offers dancers the utmost freedom onstage today.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

How Coming Back to Ballet After Years Away Has Saved Me During the Pandemic Shutdown

I was 4 years old when I took my first ballet lesson. My mom had dressed me in a pink leotard with matching tights, skirt and slippers. She drove me on a Saturday morning to a ballet academy in downtown Caguas, the town in Puerto Rico where I grew up. I don't remember much from the first lesson, but I do recall the reverence. My teacher Mónica asked the class if someone wanted to volunteer to lead. She was surprised I—the new girl—was the one to raise my hand.

I made up most of the steps, mimicking the ballerinas I had seen on TV and videos. At one point, Mónica stepped in and asked me to lead the class in a bow. I followed her directions and curtseyed in front of the mirror with one leg behind me and a gentle nod. I looked up to find myself in awe of what I had just done.

This was the same feeling I had when, after years away from dance, I finished my first YouTube ballet class at home in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
La'Toya Princess Jackson, Courtesy MoBBallet

Join Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet for Its 2020 Virtual Symposium

Memoirs of Blacks in Ballet, founded in 2015 by writer and activist Theresa Ruth Howard to preserve and promote the stories of Black ballet dancers, is offering three weekends of interactive education and conversation this month through its 2020 Virtual Symposium. The conference, titled "Education, Communication, Restoration," encourages participants to engage in candid discussions concerning racial inequality and social justice in ballet. While it is a space that centers on Blackness, all are welcome. Held August 14, 15, 21, 22 and 28, MoBBallet's second annual symposium will allow dancers to receive mentorship and openly speak about their personal experiences in a safe and empowering environment.

The first event, For Us By Us (FUBU) Town Hall, is a free community discussion on August 14 from 3:30–4:30 pm EDT via Zoom, followed by a forum for ballet leadership. The town hall format encourages active engagement (participants can raise their hands and respond in real time), but the registration invoice also contains a form for submitting questions in advance. The following discussions, forums and presentations include topics like company life as a Black dancer, developing personal activism, issues of equity and colorism in ballet companies, and more. Tickets range from free to $12 for each 60- to 80-minute event.

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks