Reverence: The Transcendent Svetlana Zakharova

The Bolshoi's alluring superstar on her best accomplishment
Published in the December 2011/January 2012 issue.

In Cinderella, choreographed by Yuri Possokhov. Photo by Marc Haegeman.

You’re coming back from maternity leave. How does it feel?
It’s not easy! But as soon as I stepped back in the studio, I told myself: Svetlana, you have time to get back in shape. There used to be days when, if something went wrong in class, I wouldn’t leave until I got it right. I tried to take it easier this time.

What are the pluses—and minuses—of being a tall dancer?

Long lines, long hands I think are very beautiful. But it can be difficult to find a partner. I often have to decline offers to dance abroad because the partner wouldn’t suit me heightwise.

You always change a detail of your costume to make it yours. Why?

It’s great to have something that no one else has. Whenever possible, I like to work with costume designers, because they know how to tailor a costume to my body, how to emphasize my personality and also how to hide some things.

Who is your toughest critic?

My mom. She attends most of my performances, and if she likes something, it means it really was good.

What’s the first thing you do in the morning?

I stretch a bit for my back, my legs. And now, of course, I check how my daughter, Anna, is doing. She is usually also “stretching” in her sleep, but for different reasons!

What’s your biggest indulgence?
Taking a day off when I’m really exhausted. I’ll cancel class, rehearsals, and just rest.

You’re a member of parliament in Russia. What does that bring you?
It broadens my horizons because ballet is a very closed world. It allows me to be more in touch with what’s happening in Russia and abroad, and if people come to talk to me about their problems, I try to help them as much as I can.

Of which accomplishment are you the most proud?
I still see mistakes every day in the mirror, so I’m only really proud of the birth of my daughter. It’s my biggest achievement.