At the start of the 53rd season, our theatre welcomed several young performers. Today, two of them talk a bit about themselves. They have a lot in common. First and foremost, they share a name and a calling; plus, both of them used to live and study in Kyiv, and have now moved to St. Petersburg. It has only been a month since Alexander Kondratenko and Alexandra Grigoryeva became part of the renowned Leonid Yacobson ballet troupe. As compatriots and alumni of the same school, they continue supporting each other to this day.
How did you start doing ballet?
AK: I was born in Mariupol and initially took high diving classes. But eventually, my interest switched to ballet, and after some initial prep, I became a student of the Kyiv State Choreographic School at the age of 10. I graduated in 2020.
AG: I started out by doing rhythmic gymnastics in my native Donetsk. Then I enrolled at Vadim Pisarev's ballet school, and realised that this is where I belong. After that, I went on to study at the Kyiv State Choreographic School, and graduated in 2021.
How did you end up at our theatre? What did you know about it at the time?
AK: I was just finishing up my third year at the Kyiv School when I was offered to become a dancer at the Leonid Yacobson Theatre in St. Petersburg. After taking a proper look at the Theatre's history and playbill, I decided that I would definitely like to work at such a high-tier ballet company.
AG: I was also invited to the theatre when I was just about to graduate. I accepted, and right now, I am very pleased with my decision. I know that Leonid Yacobson played an extraordinary role in the development of choreography on a global level. So I am very lucky to be working at the theatre that he created.
What are your most memorable experiences at the Yacobson Theatre so far?
AK:When I first watched The Swan Lake ballet and then Don Quixote live, I was amazed by the masterful performance of the corps de ballet, not to mention the soloists.
AG: My appearance at the Mariinsky Theatre in The Swan Lake was definitely something I'll never forget. I played two parts at once: one part in the Waltz Quartet and another in the Brides' Dance.
What are you rehearsing right now?
AK: I am still being tutored before I can start rehearsing properly. I am also learning the ropes of the four bull fighters' dance in Don Quixote.
AG: I am practising with a tutor, who is teaching me all kinds of variations from The Sleeping Beauty prologue. In addition, I am rehearsing as a friend of Giselle's and one of the two Wilis from the same ballet's second act.
Which roles would you like to play the most?
AK: All of them.
AG: I adore both Don Quixote and The Swan Lake, but I have always dreamed of playing Giselle, because this character is so emotional and psychologically complex.
Who are you role models in ballet?
AK: Vladimir Vasilyev, Leonid Sarafanov, Denis Matvyenko.
AG:There are many wonderful ballerinas from whom I strive to borrow the best, including Maya Plisetskaya, Diana Vishneva, and Svetlana Zakharova.
What are your hobbies, outside of ballet?
AG:I like to play the piano in my spare time. Sometimes, I stay behind at the rehearsal hall after class, and try to remember what I was taught.
Based on your first impression, is St. Petersburg the right city for you?
AK:I was stunned by its beauty during my first visit. As for whether it's right for me, we'll see, won't we?
AG:I do believe that it will become my home. This city inspires and motivates me to grow as a person and succeed as a professional. It just feels right, being here.
Interviewed by Tatyana Poznyak