Russian ballerina Svetlana Zakharova earned her 'prima' status at the young age of 18, a celebrated achievement in the world of professional ballet.

But falling in love with the art of ballet, a formalised form of dance that comes from the courts of the French Renaissance, wasn't something that happened all of a sudden for Zakharova. Her interest developed gradually, when she joined a professional ballet school for the first time at the age of 10.

At an international young dancers contest 'Vaganova Prix' in Saint Petersburg, Zakharova was the youngest ballet dancer. Soon after, Zakharova graduated from the Vaganova Academy and in nearly no time was accepted into the legendary ballet company of the Mariinsky Theatre, where she added to her repertoire under renowned ballet professionals.

Now, with an incredible status attached to her name, Zakharova is in Dubai for her performance at the city's popular spot for celebrated theatre arts, Dubai Opera. The Bolshoi's prima and the first and only Russian Etoile at Teatro alla Scala will perform with Stars of the Bolshoi, tickets for which are priced from Dh349, available through and Platinumlist.

We caught up with her as she rehearsed prior to her performance and found out more about her life as a performer and how the words discipline, focus, and dedication play a key role in her life.

I started training when I joined a professional ballet school and little by little I got more interested. It wasn't just all of a sudden. I did not start loving it from the very beginning.

The initial challenge was when I came for the first theatre to work as a professional ballet dancer. It was the Mariinsky Theatre and some spiritual work, and I was 17 at the time. My first-ever role was of 'Giselle' in ballet performances and later on I found out that no one had taken on such a role at such a young age. So that is when I tackled the first challenge I overcame and then I've started growing in my career.

This is a very common question and initially, I didn't know how to answer it because I cannot choose only a single role I have performed as the best one. So I've created a formula for myself that the best role is the role which I am doing today. And my favourite one is my present role.

The only way is to keep training daily. Hard work is also important, so is a little bit of rest, which I allow myself. But usually that is the only way to maintain my physical and mental form.

All training sessions in this profession and the typical day of training depends on my performances. However, on days there are no performances, I go to the theatre for the morning class, followed by a stage training. And then a class again if I have a performance at night, but mostly I do not train prior to that, just morning sessions because the main performance takes all the power and energy, so I want to concentrate only on that. At times there are moments when the technical side of some performances are not very difficult or complicated. That is when I allow myself to have a stage training prior to the real show.

Discipline. It is very important in ballet because your body tells you in the morning that you have to stay at home and relax, but your mind says that you have to go and work.That is how discipline would be prevalent. And you would be following your discipline because you cannot allow yourself to stay at home on the sofa and relax on the lovely throne.

Focus and concentrations are essential and valid, because you always have to be concentrated and focused on what you are doing, and what people around you, your colleagues are doing as well on the stage because ballet is a very injury prone and traumatic kind of sport and art. At times, when the ballerina is in the hands of her partner performing a very complicated pose and if the partner is not focused or at max concentration, that could lead to several injuries.

Dedication is always about the public, it is about the spectators who come to watch our performances. When you're on the stage, you don't think about yourself, or how painful and difficult it is or has been. Instead, you think of how the spectators would feel the energy that is transferred from the performers to the audiences.

For all the young ballerinas, the main advice would be to hear and listen to your tutors and teachers. When I was young, I felt my tutors are not every interested in me and what I was doing. But I was wrong. So it is important for young ballerinas to listen to their tutors, even if they feel something in unfair in their opinion. Because, the tutors always do it right.

Copyright © 2022 Khaleej Times. All Rights Reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (