You started out in gymnastics—did it have an effect on your dancing?
It helps immensely. My father was a gymnastics coach, and I think that if my daughter wanted to become a dancer, I would send her to gymnastics classes first, and only after that to ballet. Gymnastics builds character and coordination. It gives you a strong foundation.
What do you enjoy more: performing or being in the studio?
Performing. Some dancers, like Diana Vishneva, love the rehearsal process, but I prefer the result. For me, it's about more than the performance itself: It's getting ready in the dressing room, doing my makeup, fixing my eyelashes, the emotion when it's about to start…
To whom or to what would you attribute your success?
Dancers couldn't exist without coaches. Trust is the most important thing. If there is even a shred of doubt, you should work with someone else. There is 100 percent trust with my coach, Lyubov Kunakova—I'm lucky that we found each other.
Tereshkina in "Le Corsaire" N. Razina, Courtesy Mariinsky Ballet.
Do you have any pre-performance rituals?
Yes, and I can't hide it! Before every performance, I go onstage and I lie on it like a starfish, with my arms and legs stretched. People sometimes ask what I'm doing, but it helps me absorb all the energy, all the positivity and greatness of this particular theater and stage.
How nervous do you get before a performance?
It's very important for me to control my nerves. My second season with the Mariinsky, I danced Swan Lake on tour in London, and I was literally trembling. Now I start feeling a little anxious two or three days before a performance, but I try to remain controlled and quiet, to avoid showing it.
What's the hardest part of being a dancer?
The scariest thing for me is slippery floors. When we tour, the floor is the first thing I ask about. If it's slippery, it's horrible, but it happens very often. You have to work hard to control everything, your feet tend to cramp and you can't tell the audience “I'm sorry, I won't be that perfect today."
You have your own tiaras made for many roles you dance. How do you go about it?
I draw the design myself, and I have them made to order, either in the theater or outside. For Black Swan alone, I have five or six tiaras, although I bring only two on tour.