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We speak to Swan Lake ballerina Irina Kolesnikova

Swan Lake is one of the most enduring and popular ballets of all time and the St Petersburg Ballet will bring it to life on stage.

The Tchaikovsky masterpiece is beautiful and haunting and is full of the things people love to see at the ballet – point shoes, stunning tutus, perfect performances and amazing scenery.

Performing the role of Odette – and the dual role of Odile – is just about every ballerina’s dream. St Petersburg Ballet’s Irina Kolesnikova has the pleasure of performing the two roles in the ballet company’s upcoming production of Swan Lake.

We were desperate to hear from her what it is like to perform Swan Lake so we caught up for a chat about the incredible ballet and her life as a ballerina and new mum.

And what better way to show your mum how much you love her than tickets to Swan Lake at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre’s Plenary. Irina Kolesnikova has recently experienced the joy of motherhood for the first time, which will make her performance as Odette/Odile even more remarkable.

Ticketmaster: Irina, thank you so much for joining us. Can you tell me what you love most about performing Swan Lake?

Irina Kolesnikova: Well it’s a dual role. In effect I get to dance two completely different characters in one performance; Odette, the tragic emotionally wrought princess an then Odile, who is wicked and spiteful. Both roles I love and they also let me show off technically!

TM: Swan Lake is one of the most enduring ballets of all time. What is it about Swan Lake that makes it so popular?

IK: Undoubtedly, the fabulous Tchaikovsky score . Plus the fact that this ballet has all the elements that one expects in a traditional classical work – point shoes, dazzling white tutus, a good story and our St Petersburg production also has the most beautiful scenery and glorious costumes.

TM: You have recently returned to the stage after the birth of your daughter. Can you tell us about the experience of becoming a mother and how that has impacted your life and career?

IK:  Oh my goodness, the birth of my daughter has truly made my life complete. Although it’s tough work being a mum and a ballerina at the same time, nothing is more wonderful than dancing knowing that my family and my daughter are now part of my life. It was very hard work getting back into form after Vasilisa’s birth – juggling classes, rehearsals, feeding times, nappy changes – it is sometimes quite unglamorous! But I wouldn’t change a minute of it ever.

TM: As a mother yourself, do you think tickets to see Swan Lake would be a great gift for mums on Mother’s Day?

IK: Of course! What better way to spend an evening than being transported to a world of magic and beauty.

TM: The St Petersburg Ballet is known throughout the world. Can you tell me about working with Konstantin Tachkin?

IK: Mr Tachkin is a very hard task master. Ever since I joined the St Petersburg ballet he has pressured me to extend beyond what I thought possible. Maybe a better word is ‘encouraged’, but I truly believe that a ballerina actually needs someone to keep you moving forward, to develop what skills and talents you may still need to unlock. I respect him so much and I love him. That’s why we married several years ago!

TM: You have performed all over the world. Do you enjoy performing in Australia?

IK: Who wouldn’t!? What a magnificent country you have. Clean air, fresh food, no six-month winters like those we have back home. Your audiences here are quite special too, they are knowledgeable and appreciative. I like that. 

TM: Can you describe your dance training and experience as a ballerina?

IK: That’s a long story – nine years long. That’s how long I attended the Vaganova Academy in St Petersburg and a dancer’s work never stops. Even if we are not in season giving performance, it’s still training and rehearsing six if not seven days a week. If I miss class even for a day I miss the routine and the peace it brings me and my body tells me so too. I’m now close to 15 years into my career so I have lots of experience. I know how to regulate my work load so as to produce good performances every time I dance.

TM: Aside from Swan Lake, what are your favourite ballets to perform?

IK: I really like La Bayadere. It’s not often performed so when it appears on my schedule I get quite nervous… and that’s not a bad thing. There are two roles in the ballet – two leading ballerinas – so it’s also nice to be able to swap roles. Swan Lake is such a bench mark for me too and Giselle is a wonderful acting challenge. Hey, I like all the roles I get to dance!

TM: Irina, thank you so much for joining us. We are very excited to see you in the upcoming performances of Swan Lake. Good luck!

Click here to purchase tickets for Swan Lake at the Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre- Plenary from June 19.