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Screenshot via YouTube

Last summer, Mariinsky Ballet prima ballerina Uliana Lopatkina retired after more than 20 years as a principal. Adored in Russia and by audiences around the world, Lopatkina's virtuosity, elegance and humble presence have been sorely missed. Although best known for powerful interpretations of classical roles like Odette/Odile, Lopatkina also brought unparalleled drama to contemporary works, as in this clip by Dutch choreographer Hans van Manen. Lopatkina performed the austere, but emotionally fraught duet, titled Trois Gnossiennes, with her frequent Mariinsky partner Ivan Kozlov at the Hans van Manen Festival in 2007.

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Just for fun
Uliana Lopatkina seconds before going in for the headbutt. Screenshot via @cloudandvictory Instagram.

Whether you're a die-hard sports fan or Team Bunhead all the way, Cloud & Victory (aka the dancewear company with the world's cheekiest social media) has found a way for everyone to enjoy this summer's World Cup.

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Ballet Stars
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.

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Ballet Stars
Photo Courtesy Lopatkina

The Dying Swan, choreographed by Michel Fokine for Anna Pavlova, is a short but powerful solo often reserved for the most revered ballerinas. Mariinsky Ballet principal Uliana Lopatkina shares the thought process behind her iconic interpretation.

Although The Dying Swan is a very short piece, it has tremendous depth because both the audience and dancer are facing the question of life and death. Often we don't want to think about that—we want to live forever here on earth. This miniature has special meaning for me, as it helps me overcome the fear of death; it invites us to imagine that moment of transformation into the following life, which lasts eternally. It's very scary to die, but it is just a moment that you need to go through.

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Rojo and Polunin in Marguerite and Armand. Bill Cooper via The Telegraph.

Whether it's an oh-so fashionably late arrival to a ball or an endless line of impressively in-sync penchés, ballets know the power of a dramatic entrance. (Appropriate, perhaps, that the word “entrance" has a double meaning, depending on how you pronounce it: “an entry" and also “to enthrall.") Take a look at some of our favorite wing-to-stage moments.

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News

 

(Photo by Sasha Gouliaev)

Mariinsky star Uliana Lopatkina will visit Yale University for a residency October 13–15. While at Yale, Lopatkina will participate in a variety of events, including a lecture demonstration, question and answer sessions, a conversation with Emily Coates (the director of dance at Yale) and a culminating performance.

The unique performance is designed as a tribute to Anna Pavlova, Galina Ulanova and Maya Plietskaya—three Russian ballet legends. Lopatkina will perform excerpts from each ballerina's repertoire, including the Seventh Waltz from Chopiniana and "Dying Swan," among other highlights.

Fortunately for those of us outside of New Haven, Lopatkina's visit will be live-streamed here. For more information, click here.

 


 

In a controversial move, former Bolshoi Ballet star Nikolai Tsiskaridze has been appointed rector of the renowned Vaganova Academy, associate school of the Mariinsky Ballet.

Tsiskaridze is, to put it mildly, a polarizing figure. He has many admirers, but was fired from the Bolshoi in June after ongoing disputes with the company's management. Some are hailing his Vaganova appointment as a savvy move, citing the dancer's myriad connections. Others are worried that Tsiskaridze has little teaching experience and will continue to be a lightning rod for controversy—not what the troubled Mariinsky organization needs. Regardless, it's safe to say that the announcement came as a surprise to pretty much everyone.

That's not the end of the news from the Vaganova, either: Mariinsky prima Uliana Lopatkina, who is still dancing regularly, has also been named the school's artistic director.

Judith Mackrell wrote an excellent piece for The Guardian discussing the questions raised by the two appointments. Click here to read her detailed assessment of the situation.

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