Ivan Vasiliev is a Russian ballet dancer, honoured Artist of Russia, star of St. Petersburg’s Mikhailovsky Theatre and formerly principal dancer of the Bolshoi Theatre.
In 2012-2013, he premiered as a guest principal of the American Ballet Theatre (ABT). In 2014, he participated in the film ‘Natasha Rostova’s First Ball’, at the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Sochi. In 2015, he made his debut as a choreographer, presenting audiences with the author’s performance of ‘Ballet No 1’. He is also an invited soloist of La Scala and the Bavarian State Ballet.
We spoke with the artist about the ballet, family and his future plans.
Is the decision-making process in ballet the same process as in a movie?
Of course, no. In the cinema, you look more at your external resemblance to the hero and your acting abilities within the given scenario. In ballet, it is all about your technique, training, ability to dance correctly and physically and the emotionally-given choreography. Ballet dancers, if they work in the theatre, often do not choose genres. They dance, with pleasure, all the repertoire performances.
You recently made your debut as a stage director. The work of a choreographer is very different from the work on the stage. In what form are you more comfortable?
Yes, I have already released four one-act ballets: ‘Love is everywhere’, ‘Bolero’, ‘Morphine’ and ‘Blind Connection’, with one full-length performance entitled ‘Christmas Story’. Also, on May 14th in Moscow was the premiere of three of my productions. They are all very different in music, performance and the idea that is laid out in every ballet. In almost all of the performances at premieres, I go on stage as the leading performer myself and this is double the responsibility and exciting. Not only do you experience the moment for yourself as a dancer, but you also still worry about the whole team, from the guys on stage who dance my choreography to the stage directors and lighting, who also realise my idea.
How do you feel about the radical productions on the stage, which are called ‘modern art’, when the classical works are reshuffled into performances?
I am very interested in any new creativity on the stage. I’m rooting for more great thinking dancers and choreographers to appear. The evolution of dance is not something that I am indifferent to and its development interests me. The main thing is that the stage director is let out on the stage by the artists, not just for the sake of appearing on the stage, but in order to realise and convey to the viewer his thoughts and ideas.
Ballet, especially for men, is hard work. Where do you get the energy and inspiration from?
Yes, it’s a lot of work, both for young people and for girls. I do not draw energy. I generate it myself and infect others. I love what I do. I’m surrounded by a loving family and inspiring people – more than enough, and inspiration, it is everywhere – in a can of soda that fell under your feet, in a beautiful antique bas-relief or in the stripes of a pedestrian crossing. The main thing is to live with your eyes wide open.
What is your inner motto, if you have one?
A motto, it is probably not! We must always go forward, act, dream, make our way and achieve our dreams.
How do you imagine your future: ‘Myself’ in 15 years?
I, clearly, am living it now, but, in fact, at this stage, it’s a dream, and cherished desires are shared only with very close ones.
What is your idea of an ideal family and did you succeed in achieving this ideal?
Yes, certainly. I have a wonderful wife (Editor’s note: Maria Vinogradova, the leading soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia) and the best daughter, Anna, in the world. I love them very much. They are my universe and without them I cannot imagine myself.
What is your favourite time of the day?
Not the morning, exactly (laughs).
What kind of cuisine do you prefer?
I like meat dishes, and I do not like sweets and flour.
What is a comfort zone for you? How do you motivate yourself to get out of it?
I always tell myself and everyone around me that if you feel comfortable in life, then it’s time to change, move and act. Life is so beautiful. It’s hard to cover all of the opportunities that are in the world, and so you ‘want’…and so you always have to change something; discover something new and live in motion.