Who-Is-She: Natalia Kleimenova

Russia's always been famous for its classic ballet. Who Are They Magazine managed to speak with Natalia Kleimenova, one of the leading ballet dancers from the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music Theatre. She gave us a very interesting interview and told us about her professional life, about preparations for various shows, her hobbies and dreams. You will also see exclusive photos made by our photographer during the rehearsal for the 'Cinderella' ballet and those made on the day of the premiere.
— Natalia, have you ever imagined your professional life without ballet? If you have, what would you like to do?
— Our profession is very peculiar and we’re into it for 20 years. If a dancer suddenly gets a serious injury, his time’s cut. That’s why I’ve been thinking about the alternative job for a long time. At present I study economics at the Moscow Pedagogic University to have something to do when I won’t be able to dance anymore. But, frankly speaking, I’d like to work as a make-up artist. We had this subject in the choreography college, and I loved it.
— You’ve preferred ballet to many other genres of dance. Why did you make such a choice?
— Probably it wasn’t me but my mother who made this choice. She took me to dance classes when I was 5. I didn’t like it at all at first, kept nagging and asking mother not to make me go there anymore. Once I attended a concert of a local dance group, and it impressed me so much: beautiful young ladies en pointes, pretty dresses and snow-white ballet skirts were dancing to breathtaking music. I wanted to be among them!

— What’s your attitude towards modern ballet? Do you like classic or modern productions?
— It’s easier for me to dance classics. And I surely like classic ballet more! Why? I couldn’t tell you. Tastes differ.
— A classic question to anyone involved in theatrics: which role would you like to play?
— I’d like to perform Myrtha from Giselle, though it will be quite difficult for me to recreate her image. And that is the most interesting!

— How long does a dancer prepare for the show and does the preparation include?
— It’s always different: sometimes you have enough time to prepare your part and sometimes you don’t. Then you have to watch ballet videos and learn your part in advance in order to work at your dance technique and the image at the rehearsal. It also depends on role you are to perform: some of them are short and easy, some of them are not. I couldn’t name you the average time due to prepare a part – a can only tell you that I began to work at the part of the Fairy from ‘Cinderella’ half a year before the premiere. Of course, it doesn’t mean that I’ve been training every day of these 6 months. This ballet isn’t set on the stage of our theatre quite often, and many girls perform the role of the Fairy, that’s why those who don’t have many performances in that repertoire are more likely to get the role. And yes – I got it! I spent two weeks in the rehearsal hall before the premiere, took the magic wand, – the Fairy’s requisite – put on the long ballet skirt to get used to it, because it hampers me during rotations. At the last rehearsals I danced with the corps de ballet of Fairies to understand how I should walk and dance among them not to hinder anyone. When I prepare a new part, I try to watch a lot of dance videos, communicate with those who have already danced those parts in order to understand the character of my heroine. Tatiana Chernobrovkina, my ballet-master, helps me a lot.
— It’s not unknown that ballerinas have to keep very strict daily diet in order to maintain their physical form. If it’s not a secret, could you describe your daily ration?
— That’s not quite true. Few professional ballet dancers keep diets, because we have colossal physical exercise every day, and it burns all excessive calories. Yes, many ballerinas have periods when they have to mind what they’re eating, but I think it happens mostly after holidays or the birth of a baby. When I was at the choreography college, our teachers knocked it in our heads that we mustn’t eat anything, that we have to lose weight constantly. After all these abuses on my body I understood that diets are awful and unhealthy! It’s sufficient to follow some simple rules: you should eat sweet, fat and roast food in the first half of the day, you must always have breakfast – otherwise you will suffer from terrible hunger in the second part of the day. And of course you shouldn’t eat a lot before you go to bed! In addition I’d like to say that you shouldn’t prevent yourself from eating something certain – chocolate, for instance – because you’ll want even more of it!
— What ballet has impressed you most of all? What part is the best remembered for you?
— The Sleeping Beauty staged by Marius Petipa has been my favourite ballet since childhood – I can watch it endlessly! Unfortunately we don’t have it in our theatre, but I once had a chance of participating in it as a guest dancer with another cast during their tour. And the part of Aurora – the heroine of the ballet mentioned above – is my favourite. I’ve always liked the way Irina Kolpakova – the Mariinsky theatre ballerina – performed it, and took over some of her dancing elements.
— In your opinion, why is Russian ballet considered to be the strongest and the most recognized worldwide?
— Because of its strong classic school, of course. There are lots of them in Russia, not only in Moscow and Saint-Petersburg, but in such cities as Perm, Saratov, Novosibirsk etc, where ballet masters teach their students the Russian ballet canons.

— What do you like doing besides ballet?
— I love cooking – especially pastry for my husband and guests. I also make tiaras and stage ornaments for ballerinas. I’ve got a big collection of them.
— We understand it’s quite early to speak about such things, but looking into the future, would you like to teach choreography after your career is finished?
— By now, I don’t see myself as a maitre de ballet or a choreographer: I think the person of this profession should have special character, great patience and talent for that.

Questionnaire

— The happiest moment in your life?
— My wedding.

— What would you like to change in yourself?
— I’d like to learn how to manage my time properly.

— The place where you feel best?
— At home.

— Whom would you like to get acquainted with?
— With the Radi Slavy band

— The country you haven’t been to, but would like to visit?
— Ireland.

— In childhood, what did you want to do when you grew up?
— I wanted to be a ballerina, strange though it may seem!

— Your favorite writers?
— Charlotte Brontë, Paulo Coelho

— What qualities do you like best in men?
— Responsibility.

— What do you like doing most of all?
— I like to create something beautiful, whether it be a dance or some ornaments.

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