Hello everyone. My name is Olga Elanskaya. We’ve recorded an interview with the principal dancer of the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Musical Theatre Anastasia Limenko We’ve had a fairly frank, sincere conversation, I really hope that you’ll like this interview and watch it till the end, and now you can subscribe to the channel, give this video “a thumbs up”. Enjoy. She removed me from the cast, and for me that was a kind of shock If I hadn’t done my best, hadn’t put in 200 percent of myself, probably it would all have been different by now the emperor begins to tidy up all that his son has done He gave us, in a way, an ultimatum that we should give him an answer whether we accept the offer of Stanislavsky Theatre or not before the audition to Bolshoi. when it had happened, the next day I came to work, I found solace in it, that is why I did not refuse to participate in the performance Oh yes, I just have started talking about the fact that, in principle, I make my childhood dream come true there must be a person by your side, or the right words should be said that will help you up Tell me how it all began, where you come from, how did ballet come into your life? I was born in Belarus, in the city of Minsk, and before ballet I did rhythmic gymnastics, but I disliked it extremely and would run away from classes and in general I wanted to be a cartoonist I was keen to draw. So, anyway… I started doing ballet because (mmm …) this profession was probably my mom’s dream, and I came into ballet not because I wanted it but rather because my parents chose this path for me, but I am insanely grateful to my teachers. In particular, to Natalia Grigoryevna Filippova, because my first steps in ballet began with her classes and she was able to rouse my love for this profession and it was her who saw something in me that she began to develop, giving extra classes and she prepared me for my first ballet competition. From the very beginning at school were you the best in class or just the other way around? How did your physical attributes develop? Or were they all good? I always had a very flexible back. I can’t say that I had bad attributes, but they were very average. And in the first grade, in Belarus, well, we have a ten-rating system there, and in general it’s all a little bit different there, that is, in the first grade it’s impossible to get 10 points. That is, in the first grade, the highest mark is seven. I then, as far as I remember, got four at the exam but honestly, I didn’t really care about that. That is, well, I studied, I was bored because before coming to school I haven’t seen a single ballet performance. But there was still a moment after which now one can say that a lot has turned upside down, and it was when I was participating in the waltz from the Sleeping Beauty and in general, the Sleeping Beauty – this was the first ballet that I watched and on the day of the performance since I was mixing up steps and I my ribbons, on the day of rehearsal, they got loose on stage, the teacher who was in charge of us, the children involved in this performance, she expelled me from the cast and for me it was such a blow and a turning point, after which I realized that “no, I want to try hard and I don’t want this to happen again and I started … So you got some kind of sporting sense? Yeah. Somehow, absolutely unexpectedly. Because, probably, during my first and a half years of studies at a choreographic school I lost all my gymnastic attributes, extensions, I was so lazy, I didn’t do anything at all, but it was after this moment that I realized that I didn’t want it to be that way and I want to be the best, and I want to dance on stage, and I began to stretch a lot at home and probably Natalya Grigoryevna noticed this eagerness in me and decided that I needed to try to prepare for the ballet competition. I then came in third and won the Natalia Bessmertnova prize and for me it was insanely honorable and it raised the sense of responsibility for the profession even more because I understood that having got these titles, I should be able to confirm them, and the teacher also decided to continue this path of ballet competitions. I would not look at anyone at all, I would just go on stage, do my variation, enjoy it, and … and actually, after we’d sent an application, we somehow forgot to check the mail, whether we get an invitation or not that is, I did not know if I would be participating. Then I got sick with a strep throat, and honestly, we were ready to leave this whole thing alone, but then, probably two weeks later we realized that the invitation got lost somewhere in the mail and we should’ve received it earlier So we discoved it and now it was the moment to start making up for lost time and getting in shape after an illness and therefore I started doing the class twice a day and to rehearse twice a day It was the end of the holidays and the teacher just started putting pressure on me, and honestly I can’t imagine how I dealt with this enormous physical strain. Of course, in the theater there is a huge amount of rehearsals and so on, but this was a real school for me with its crazy schedule, when I would arrive to school at nine in the morning, do a class, rehearse six variations in a row, then I would go back home, take a nap, return to school and repeat everything from the very beginning. Sort of an Olympics… Yes, true… the teacher then chose such a system, roughly speaking, to have two days in one. Thus we managed to make up for lost time and after this competition I participated in a number of others and just after one of them I was invited to study at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography and, of course, for my parents it was a really hard step to let their 14 y.o. child move to Moscow. Anyway, well, it was hard for them to admit, of course it’s not as far away as America but still well … definitely not at the end of the earth, quite close but Moscow is a crazy city… But eventually I am very grateful that they made this decision because, I, at that time could not have a clear vision of how this step would change my life and it was not my aim. So, as a matter of fact, at a certain moment of my life it’s just chance and luck that played the most important role. You’ve worked a lot with Sergey Polunin. Maybe you can share some interesting stories from your dancing together? He doesn’t show any kind of cliche emotions on stage, so you never know what to expect and basically I like it because it brings life to the scene During one of our Mayerling ballets, there was a moment when he pushes me and I just do a series of pas de bourree from him and then back to him again, and … and apparently, he probably wanted more reaction from me, he started saying: “Fear! Fear! ” It happens to him sometimes that he begins to talk on stage, and it’s not like “oh, now we need to do this or that,” that is, it’s not Seryozha who is talking to me, but Rudolph. And therefore, in general, it resonates with me and I like it, but there were also times when he would forget the steps and I had to go like – “Seryozha, degage …” so some moments like that. In fact, there are a lot of stories connected with Mayerling, when Rudolph, together with the officers, runs out of the brothel, and Seryozha would always jump over the table and over the sofa, and that, by itself, was already dynamic and everyone liked this moment, but once he just overturned a table with the carafe of water on it the glasses fell over … I don’t know, it’s not usual to have this happen on stage because, we somehow used to everything going smoothly, but here how it happens sometimes … Did the artists manage not to let on, on stage? Yes, they did but then you need to follow this scene further, because there is a very fast change of scenery and the cleaning lady was not supposed to be on the stage, water was spilled everywhere some garbage was lying around… and Alexei Karasev who was playing the part of Emperor goes on stage … and begins to clean up everything that his son has done So it’s never boring with him. But of course, there were moments that, on the one hand, can be considered irresponsible because there were some rehearsals … and he would miss them, something things did not work out, but as an artist he creates on stage, he doesn’t just churn out one and the same stuff all over again, like using clichés, it’s not a craft for him Eventually he could afford it due to his certain confidence and freedom that Igor Anatolyevich Zelensky gave him he could allow himself to do some things on stage that, let’s say, choreographers do not like, but at the expense of this, his performances have always been very desired, due to that real life not just that you come to the performance and it’s always the same thing … That everyone already knows … And, having arrived in Moscow, of course, at the beginning I was sad, yearned, it was difficult to adapt, and I was still such a homegrown child, but in the boarding school life’s totally different … In addition, didn’t you come to a formed class? And how were you accepted? The thing is that I came to Elena Alexandrovna Bobrova’s class, and before that Ms. Arkhipova held this course, and, girls, well, everyone thought that they would continue with her, but due to family circumstances she had to pass on the class to another teacher and therefore, we can say that, although the class was formed, the teacher was new for everyone. And Elena Alexandrovna has already seen me at the competitions, that is to say, she had an idea about my capabilities and therefore it was a little easier for me, and in plus Marina Konstantinovna Leonova knew me, and in this regard, I should admit I didn’t need to show, like like, what I can do, and so on, however there are two sides of the coin, and there was a responsibility too, because they saw me at competitions, they knew that I am already a prize winner. So. But I threw myself into studies so much and I understood that I was in Moscow and I had to prove myself to my parents and to meet up their expectations and therefore these few years, while I was at the academy, it seems to me that I did not see anything but study I didn’t see the surroundings, I didn’t go out even for a walk around Moscow and, you can say that I, of course, had friends and I hanged out with my classmates, but just to go to visit someone – that was impossible, Nastya was all in her books, in general school curriculum too, and I was so much into it that time, I think , studying powered me, and if I hadn’t done my best, hadn’t put in 200 percent of myself, probably it would all have been different by now because even every Sunday I used to take a key from the dance hall as I agreed with Marina Konstantinovna, and worked additionally on my own there in the evenings, on Sundays and whenever I had free time Here. After graduation, I had several job proposals, including …well … in principle, I thought that I would go to the Bolshoi Theater I mean, I had an offer from the Bolshoi Theater, so from the Stanislavsky and Mikhailovsky Theaters. And somehow, one day..i mean we, me and some of my classmates, were already taking classed in Bolshoi after the graduation concerts but since on Monday at the Bolshoi Theater it’s a day off, and in Stanislavsky the day off is on Tuesday my classmate Lyosha Dobikov suggested: “Come on, let’s go to the Stanislavsky Theater, just once” and honestly I have to admit that I have never been to Stanislavsky before. We had a character dance teacher, Irina Belavina, who was from Stanislavsky Theater, but, somehow I have never been to the performances and I had no idea what was going on there – what repertoire and so on, we just went to work out to stay in shape but Igor Anatolyevich, he caught us all, caught us, and … one by one he brought us to his office to talk, he gave us some promises and, in a way, an ultimatum that we should give him an answer whether we accept the offer of Stanislavsky Theatre or not before the audition to Bolshoi. And there and then And this is when the ambivalence started because there were five people besides me, who came to Stanislavsky just like this and talked with Igor Anatolyevich. Oh, what the things we did, we drew straws and flipped the coins because it’s very difficult to make this decision. It’s bad when you don’t have any offers at all, but it’s also difficult when you have a choice, because you don’t know how, but in principle, whole your artistic future is at stake really. We already signed the contracts with the Stanislavsky Theater, but the day of an audition to Bolshoi… I called Marina Konstantinovna the day before, we talked, well, of course, she told me that … the decision was mine, she gave me some recommendations though. Well, I woke up that day, I packed my things, made a bun, took my things, even I have already left the academy and something stopped me and I didn’t go to the class, and so, the destiny turned out this way, and, having come to the Stanislavsky theater I was immediately taken by Galina Nikolaevna Krapivina, she became my teacher, although perhaps Igor Anatolyevich had slightly different plans. And she, too, perhaps … we started working in the theater in June and for the first few months she additionally rehearsed something with me, because she already had seen me at the graduation concert and she was interested in me. And at the beginning of the season it was decided that I should prepare Snegurochka And in December I danced my first leading role, that is, literally a few months after I came to the theatre, but of course I burned with this role, plus this is a part of the history of the Stanislavsky Theater because this ballet I don’t know, it’s so deep, it reflects the traditions of our theater, and this ballet, it meant so much for me and I have become so impressed with it that after having been dancing this part for the last eight years each time I dance it as if from scratch naturally my heroine changes as I change, I’m not trying to save my first “sketch”. For me it’s such a precious role in my collection of plays and I’m so very happy that my kind of … my career in the theater started with it. The next significant work for me was, probably, the variation of Stephanie in Mayerling, because it was the first show production process in the theater. Before, the common plays were shown, but when a new ballet is being staged, it’s completely another process in the theater. this is some other world, when the rehearsal schedule is built differently, and in plus I danced with two incredible partners – with Sergei Polunin and Igor Anatolievich Zelensky, namely, with the star of that time, right and when … Well, with the artistic director, overall And with the artistic director, yes. And at that time, I was only eighteen years old, and the play is really anything but simple because well … There are such acrobatic … supports… Yes. Unusual choreography, a lot of supports, a lot of mise-en-scenes, but I was so happy at that time, I watched all the movies related to Mayerling’s story, read the Prince Rudolph’s biography, and all the Habsburgs, in general, I put myself into it so much and I’m keen on this kind of work when you not only perfect your technique but also try to know about personage to play the part credibly And, probably, from … from the show production process the total-immersion into the troupe started, that is, before that we were still by ourselves, verdant youth, and so on, and when there’s a production process you get to know the team better, and you dip yourself in the atmosphere of the theatre, because after the academy it was very difficult for me to adapt to the schedule, it is random, it all depends on how repertoire is built that means, sometimes you have loads of work, sometimes not, but in school, actually, everything is consistent and there is no need to make any decisions, but here you are forced into adulthood and everything changes dramatically I love my work, I like learning, it powers me, and exactly the first few years, when you go deep into this process you need to learn the repertoire, I mean, I didn’t become the soloist at once to learn only my variation and that’s it, no, besides that I had to prepare some minor parts, sometimes parts in the corps de ballet, so the amounts of the material to remember was endless, it seems to me, I spent all evenings in front of the computer learning the choreography of the play, but it was great and now it somehow … declines, because now, it’s easier for the young dancers to become involved in the process they have separate rehearsals, and for us it was like with kittens thrown into the river, does he come out or not, if you learn your part in two days – good, if not – you are out of the cast. Well, I think, it was a good training, , a survival school, and there bullying too, the older generation of artists, they could be tough on us. However now when I listen to the dancers from other theaters, from Bolshoi, from Mariinsky, it somehow passes. Before all these rules, theatrical principals, they somehow were followed much more strictly, I think that gave it a special charm Yeah. At the end of the first year in the theater, La Bayadère was rehearsed, we worked with Natalya Makarova this is a unique experience, and at the same time I was preparing for the Moscow International Competition there were loads of work, but for me when I have this accelerated pace of living, I manage to do even more, and when I don’t have job to do it becomes very difficult to pump this energy inside myself, and that is why my first year in the theater was so full and memorable and somehow it provided a good start for the career. And now, looking back, many seasons are already erased from the memory you remember only some certain events, but not as brightly as the first year of work in the theater. Well, now in what state are you? I’m probably now in the state of soul searching, rethinking, ah … well, this applies not only to the theater … but, kind of mine Personal growth, and naturally this also affects the profession because I cannot separate myself from the ballet it is a part of me, and in many ways the ballet of course affects my lifestyle. And I’m happy with it, because I don’t have these kind of thoughts it happens that someone can get tired of their profession, no, for me, I can say that I am voracious dancer, I mean there are moments, of course, when you are emotionally down, but this is rather due to the fact that you did not give yourself a break you did not allow yourself to recover. Well, you have recently written that you had, as I understand, psychologically complicated situation …? Well … It’s due to, it’s … it’s difficult to talk about it, it’s … it’s only been some time since my mother passed away and it really broke my heart, understandably everyone goes through these losses and … I thought I’m so strong, however terrified or not, you’ll never be ready for it. And … It turned my life around, maybe, I didn’t immediately realize it …, of course you cannot immediately realize it, but it reacts on me, anyway, and I understand that I will be different in my profession from now on you cannot immediately realize it, but it reacts on me, anyway, and I understand that I will be different in my profession from now on But, does the work help you to take your mind of sad memories now or …? Basically, when it had happened, the next day I came to work, I found solace in it, that is why I did not refuse to participate in the performance, I completely worked off all the rehearsals, that time I rehearsed with Isabelle Guerin, I put myself into work that swallowed and probably, thanks to it I was mentally saved. So. Then after some time it turned out that Don Quixote performance are stopped for me, because there are five casts. And for M. Laurent Hilaire subordination matters, so primas dance first That’s why I’ve got a period of idleness. This is when the emotions really hit me, I mean usually, I have a lot of energy I don’t even know where to put it, and I am always busy doing something, I have a lot of interests, but it hit me I was really hurt and ill, I couldn’t do anything, couldn’t get out of my bed, and this is an emotional devastation, and you are alone with yourself Normally, I am ok with the solitude, I don’t suffer from it, but this time I had to face all these unpleasant and scary thoughts and well, before that there were some other events, so my mother’s passing became some sort of apogee of all that happened to me lately. But I understood, that despite all constrains, being at the edge of nowhere, and roughly speaking, sinking into the ocean of sadness, complex emotions, I still understood that it would not swallow me and that … how to say … that I will not blame life or fate for what is happening to me to the Universe for what is happening because I understand that I grew stronger, deeper. And once again, in spite of anything I understand how much I love the life, and I want to carry these feelings through my art, I would like to hone myself my body, to become like a pure conductor passing all my best to the people. Because, I believe, this is exactly what is missing And, probably, these events showed me once again that you don’t need to create an image or wear a mask you must first be yourself and accept yourself. I understand that I am a public person, and it is generally thought that you should keep up appearances that is to say maintain your reputation, but I realized that even this is not necessary, it is necessary, first of all, to listen to your heart There is no need in hiding your feeling, pretending that all is just fine. People should know about your feelings otherwise how would you find support if you always seem so strong, and that’s not just about women, I think, there should be no separation .. And when you share this, you become kind of role model for other people who go through similar situations. Yes, And on social networks, before I only shared most vivid impressions and events and tried to make my account a bright motivation to share this energy, but during that period I didn’t have enough power, didn’t know where to find this light and I generally disappeared from social networks for some time. People say I am a blogger, I do spend a lot of time doing it but I do it with all my heart, and I am extremely grateful to the audience that I have there, because it seems to me that there are people who are in love with art and I really feel support, and in plus for me Instagram is a free platform, where I feel that I can create and share what really excites me. And now, after all these events, I realized that I want to erase… now everyone has well-polished life on social networks… Success everywhere. yes. And this, this never happens, and maybe many people think that it’s not necessary to show your personal stories and feelings, of course you should not cross the red line, but I would like to set an example and show how to get out of grim situations and still keep bright feelings to continue believing in people, believing in love and in life. And I want to create, I need to be onstage. It is important for me to share my thoughts with others and … Tell us about painting. You do find something for yourself in it… Oh yes, I just have started talking about the fact that, in principle, I make my childhood dream come true. I have never dreamt of being a ballerina probably, my true purpose found me, but I wanted to become an animator, an artist. And when I started working in the theater I realized that I have some financial and temporary resources not in the way it has been in the academy. So, I started painting in the beginning I went to the studio, it all started with courses like ‘an oil painting in three hours’, this is where I gained some skills After I bought everything, I needed to do it at home. And for me this is a revelation when I place myself at the canvas to draw This … Sometimes there is a white canvas in front of me and I don’t know what will happen and, I express my feelings or fantasies, or my internal state, or I express … I often miss nature, so for me painting is also contact with it it because I like various floral patterns, flowers, plants. And when I draw, I turn off my thoughts, it is very important for me because sometimes it seems to me I like an English expression – “overthinking”, I’m contemplating too much, and thoughts go around in circles, there’s nothing good about it To find a solution you need to clear your mind and for me the painting is what helps me often to do it. Did it work right away or … is this a result of hard work? No. I mean, I gradually gained skills, and I began to draw long time ago, I need to check when, because I always date my paintings But I have never done it on a regular basis, now let’s say I started a new painting, and before that, I haven’t probably drawn for five months and it was always like this, let’s say I’ve not painted for six months, and then I have three or four paintings done in a row So, in the beginning I went to the studio to get some knowledge, and now I paint at home, step by step I found my style and started to draw my own paintings not to redraw pictures. And yes, I feel that I improved my technic because basically practice is needed for everything, just like in ballet, if you have some raw talent and you studied, and worked hard it seems to me that virtually every artist will progress because if you have your head screwed on right and you have abilities and work to do, then willy-nilly you will progress What is your plan for the near future? Or are you concentrating on some everyday state of mind for now? It is difficult to say because I am ambitious, and it is not easy for me not to make plans. I’m probably not superstitious but as for the plans, I don’t like speaking about them before I turn them into deeds. But for the very next few weeks, maybe a month, the most important thing for me is to recover emotionally, slowly but surely this is already happening because before I felt that I was devastating And it’s passing, because the environment is changing slightly, there are some new contacts, some new ideas, some new projects, and it energizes me, but as I said, I really love the life. For the next month, anyway I have some performances however I still focus on myself. Recovering, I can see that I become a different person, there is my new “I” and the first goal is to work on it Maybe it looks like nothing happens but nevertheless, that’s the most important thing for me now This is a new internal basis, ramrod for new levels of development. Thank you very much for finding time for this interview! Thank you! and I hope that many of our viewers will be inspired and perhaps those who faces the difficulties in their life will meet with support Yes, I would really be happy if it will happen, because when I meet a person and I feel an emotional pain or that somethings bothers him or her, I always become somehow very sorry and distressed for this person. I always try to find the right word of support or to do something to help, because I understand that often people just try to appear stronger, they close in their own well, shell, in their own little world, sometimes, of course, it may help, however there must be a person by your side, or the right words should be said that will help you up, because in the end no matter what people’s goals are, anyhow everyone’s common goal is to be happy and enjoy the life because otherwise, I don’t know, we fall on evil days That’s why I think that arts, any art is aimed to help us to feel present in the moment, to enjoy what we have, be happy with ourselves and with the understanding that there are still a lot of wonderful people.