You were known as the queen of contemporary at the Mariinsky Ballet, but today you dance almost all the main classical roles. Was it a difficult transition?
It was actually really helpful to dance contemporary repertoire first. It builds coordination and control, particularly for a tall dancer. With Forsythe, for instance, you have to be fast and very accurate. It opened up more possibilities for me in the classics.
You danced all three parts of Balanchine’s Jewels in one special performance last season. How did you get through it?
It was more and more fun from one part to the next, and “Diamonds” just felt like fireworks. I could feel the logical progression, and I didn’t even get tired—I was so happy to do it. It was my idea; I’ve danced parts of the ballet before. I thought: Why not? It’s crazy, but…
What’s the least glamorous part of being a dancer?
Everyday life at the theater and the soap opera it can turn into. The drama can disturb the work. I try not to get into it too much, but sometimes it’s just impossible.
Is it true you got married to your husband, principal character artist Islom Baimuradov, one morning before class?
Yes. It was during the Mariinsky Ballet Festival, and that night I was dancing a big swan in Swan Lake, so Islom and I decided to do it around 8 am. We didn’t have a honeymoon either: After the festival we went straight to New York for a tour. Our life is honeymoon enough!
Do you have any nicknames?
In the theater, the nickname for Islom and me is Angry Family, because we always tell people what we think; we don’t say something is beautiful if it’s not. Not everybody likes that!
In reaching the top, how much was talent and how much was sweat?
Physically speaking, I don’t think I was talented. It was more about work every day. Work, more work and yet more work. There’s no upper limit—you can always go further.
What would you take with you on a desert island?