Jaiani and Dylan Gutierrez in Swan Lake. Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Joffrey Ballet.

Dynamic Elegance: The Joffrey Ballet's Victoria Jaiani Cherishes the Rehearsal Process

This story originally appeared in the April/May 2016 issue of Pointe.

You've been at the Joffrey Ballet for your whole career. What do you love about the company?

When I joined, at 16, I was drawn to their repertoire. We were doing John Cranko's Romeo and Juliet, and not many companies in the U.S. do that version. I was fortunate to dance Juliet my first year. And I love working with choreographers who have created on me or had special visions for me—I love the things they pull from my body and the way they push me.

What do you enjoy more: performing or being in the studio?

I cherish every moment in the studio, because it's vital. I believe in hard work and repetition, although not to the point of killing myself. But the more prepared I am, the more understanding I have of the role, the better I feel onstage.


You recently danced the goddess Diana in John Neumeier's Sylvia. What was that experience like?

It was magnificent just to be in the same room with him. Neumeier kept saying, “This is Chicago's version." He modified certain things; it almost felt like he was creating or recreating movement. He gave us an opportunity to show how we as people, how we as dancers, express ourselves.

Jaiani and Temur Suluashvili in Yuri Possokhov's "Adagio." Photo by Cheryl Mann, Courtesy Jofrrey Ballet.

Your husband, Temur Suluashvili, also dances with the Joffrey and is a partner of yours. What's different about dancing with your husband?

It's very special because we have that love affair in real life. We tend to understand each other really easily. Perhaps we have higher expectations. When we get an opportunity to dance together, it's really fun, and it works for our schedules with our baby, which is convenient!

You have an extraordinary extension and an incredible jump. Are these both natural abilities?

I've always had flexible hips and a flexible back. My jump was something that I developed—I worked hard for it. Now, I'm very proud that I'm one of the jumpers in the company.

Do you have advice for the next generation of dancers?

It's so important for a dancer, especially now, to be able to adapt. Like a chameleon, in a way. Really listen to what the choreographers want from you.

Latest Posts


Complexions Contemporary Ballet's Tatiana Melendez Proves There's No One Way to Have a Ballet Career

This is Pointe's Fall 2020 cover story. Click here to purchase this issue.

Talk to anyone about rising contemporary ballerina Tatiana Melendez, and one word is bound to come up repeatedly: "Fierce." And fair enough, that's a perfectly apt way to describe the 20-year-old's stage presence, her technical prowess and her determination to succeed. But don't make the mistake of assuming that fierceness is Melendez's only (or even her most noteworthy) quality. At the core of her dancing is a beautiful versatility. She's just as much at ease when etching pure classical lines as she is when boldly throwing herself off-balance.

"Selfish choreographer that I am, I want Tatiana to stay with Complexions for all time," says her boss Dwight Rhoden, Complexions Contemporary Ballet's co-artistic director and resident choreographer. "She has a theatricality about her: When the music comes on, she gets swept away." Not too shabby for someone who thought just a few years ago that maybe ballet wasn't for her.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Gene Schiavone, Courtesy ABT

2020 Stars of the Corps: American Ballet Theatre's Wanyue Qiao

When the curtain opens on Twyla Tharp's In the Upper Room, there are two women onstage, wearing striped pants and tops, and sneakers. By the end, after almost 40 minutes of high-intensity dancing, they've stripped down to red leotards, their fists lifted victoriously. Wanyue Qiao danced one of these athletic superwomen last year during American Ballet Theatre's spring season at the Metropolitan Opera House. It was her first major role, after three years in the corps, and she couldn't have been more fierce. "To be honest, I had never done this kind of dance before, and I wasn't sure if it was my style," she says. Tharp encouraged her, and helped her to find her warrior side. "She showed not just her strength, coordination and ability, but courage," says ballet master Susan Jones, who assisted Tharp in the staging.

Keep reading SHOW LESS
Getty Images

Butternut Squash Takes Center Stage This Fall—Plus, 2 Easy Recipes

Whether it's cubed and roasted or puréed into a comforting soup, butternut squash takes center stage this fall. The flavorful seasonal favorite is an excellent nutritional choice for dancers. Here's what's packed into one serving:

Keep reading SHOW LESS

Editors' Picks