Russian prima ballerina Ekaterina Kondaurova is a force to be reckoned with. A critically-acclaimed, award-winning ballet dancer, she has stolen the heart of Russian ballet with her strong character and distinctive style. Born in Moscow and trained in St Petersburg, Ekaterina dances with the Mariinsky Ballet, where you’ll often catch her playing leading roles in world-famous productions. We sat down with Ekaterina, fresh off the stage of Swan Lake, to talk about her love of Russian ballet and her home, St Petersburg.
How did your passion for the beautiful art of ballet first come about?
I don’t remember the moment when I felt the passion. I remember that I had gone to study dance for my general development and I really liked it. The time came when I had to choose between piano and dance. I thought ballet was easier as you’re not just sitting in the same place. That’s how it developed and there was no stopping me.
Did you find growing up in Russia aided you as an aspiring dancer?
Yes, of course. For me, the Russian ballet school is at the very top. It suits my taste. And, of course, you take on board the things you are surrounded by, whatever environment you are brought up and educated in. I was raised on Russian ballet; I went to Russian theatre and saw what our performers do. That also proved to be an influence.
Were there any Russian ballerinas who inspired you as a child?
I have always been inspired by someone but there was no one ballerina that I wanted to be like. When I was young, Ekaterina Maximova seemed incredible to me in ballet films. In my childhood, when I lived in Moscow, I often went to the Stanislavsky Theatre to watch Svetlana Tsoi dance. Now, I am often inspired by unexpected people who perform their roles in such a way that I want to be like them.
You’ve been performing with the Mariinsky Ballet since 2001. Why is the company so important to you?
The fact that the company is special for me is beyond question. I was born in Moscow and for the first years I trained there, but ever since I moved to St Petersburg to study at the Vaganova Academy, there has been no other theatre for me than the Mariinsky. My entire life was built towards my dream of coming to this theatre. It is undoubtedly special, a home-from-home, and for me, the greatest theatre in the world.