You danced John Cranko’s Onegin for the first time last year. How did you find your inner Tatiana?
Eugene Onegin is my favorite book. As a child, I wanted to become an opera singer. I performed in the opera as one of the little kids onstage. I knew Tatiana’s part by heart; I would sing it all the time. It was easy to translate her into ballet.
You’re engaged to a sculptor, Andrei Korobtsev. When will we see the first sculpture of you?
It’s almost ready. It’s a bust of me, and the plaster cast is done, but the final sculpture will be in marble. He’s also working on a commission for the Paveletsky train station in Moscow, a couple saying good-bye as the man leaves for war. I’ll be the woman.
What do you do to stay injury-free?
I have a doctor I completely trust in St. Petersburg. She comes to see me in Moscow, and I also call her for advice. She practices cupping therapy—it’s not for everyone, but it really helps me.
Of which accomplishment are you most proud?
I can’t say I take pride in anything I did, because in the Orthodox tradition you don’t achieve things by yourself: It’s God who gives it all to you.
What advice do you have for students wanting to be professional dancers?
Explore other forms of art, and absorb as much as you can—it will always find its way onto the stage. Sometimes I discover new things in me, and I realize it comes from films or performances I’ve seen, even if they didn’t strike me at the time.
Who is your toughest critic?
My mother. She lives in St. Petersburg but travels to see my performances. She was a ballerina herself, and I trust her opinion. She wouldn’t say it was a good job simply because she is my mother. She is always honest.
What’s the toughest part of being a dancer?
Denying yourself things and trying to achieve your goals no matter what. Ballet is not just hard work, it’s unusually hard work, and a lot of talented ballerinas fail because they can’t face all the hardship that comes their way. Sometimes everything goes against you, and you still have to keep fighting.