She’ll also use the space to help cultivate new choreographers, which will expand on her work with Context, a dance festival she initiated five years ago that will be in Moscow and St. Petersburg this November. She welcomed the Martha Graham Company in 2011 (its first time in Russia) and hopes to bring Ballet Theater this year. Ms. Vishneva, who recently spoke about her career in her dressing room, may need an infusion of New York City by then.
Following are edited excerpts from the interview.
Why are you stepping down from Ballet Theater?
My generation has already left, and at some point, you understand that this might be the time where you have to start a new page of your life. I love it here, but it’s time-consuming and energy-drawing, so I decided at this point, when time is not waiting, I’d rather spend it on new projects.
Do you have a base? Where did you live?
On a plane. [Laughs.] Depending on projects, my schedule varies. Sometimes it’s more in America. Sometimes it’s more in Europe or back home. When you stay at the same place, you get used to the routine, and it becomes boring, so when you move to a different company or country, you’re getting this shot of adrenaline. You are restarting somehow.
Do you like that?
It’s very important to find either a new style or new choreography or a new production that I haven’t done before. So I became a guest everywhere! [Laughs.] I don’t get deep into what’s happening at a specific company; by moving around, I feel freedom for artistic development.
Is it also so that you don’t get caught up in company politics?
Yes. When something starts to get, not messy but to touch me, I can say, “I’m done here.” [Laughs.]
I have earned this status and position. I didn’t just get it because I’m a great talker. I got it because of all the work I put into it and what I showed onstage. I have this from my childhood, being trained in Russia. Unfortunately, in the new generation, not everybody has this diligence.
Maybe because, in my generation, we had something to go for, to reach. Maybe it was competition. It was very hard to get somewhere on a professional level because you were surrounded with unbelievably strong dancers. I didn’t want to be just a dancer, I wanted to own and use the language of art.
What do you think of ballet training today?
The world is different, life is different, and kids are different. When I go to see my own teacher, I am shocked with the fact that nowadays the teacher has to repeat [instructions] over and over — 10 times, 20 times.
In my generation, you were told once. We would try over and over; now, they just stand there looking. I don’t know what they have in their heads. We were afraid of our teachers, yet we thought they were gods and we loved them. Now we have this feeling that teachers depend on students.
Is that true only in Russia?
No, it’s everywhere.
This season at Ballet Theater, there aren’t the usual international stars. How do you feel about that?
Obviously, there is a chance for dancers in the company to experience growth and to land parts that they would not necessarily have. But there has to be a balance between local and invited. It gives a new touch, a new potential to the ballets.
A major focus for you in the future will be your festival. What was the dance climate like when you started it?
[Smiles.] It was a little controversial. I am from the classical world and I am doing something contemporary, and I created a festival and why is she doing this? For what reason? She is classical! Now it’s absolutely interconnected, but before they were parallel. Nobody remembers why it was controversial. [Laughs.]
What will you miss about your frequent Ballet Theater partner Marcelo Gomes?
It’s not possible to miss Marcelo. We will continue. It’s very rare that it happens with a partner — this unbelievable connection, this chemistry.
I don’t have the feeling that I am saying goodbye to A.B.T. I know that I have to break and leave the system. When someone says, “I’m tired,” I say: “Well, you never worked at A.B.T. Try going there.”
New York is a hard town, isn’t it?
Yes. [Laughs.] And mentally, psychologically, emotionally, not everyone can withstand these conditions. So when you are standing there in front of the audience — the grateful, wonderful audience thanking you for your performance — you’ve gone through rehearsing and felt all the pressure. The feeling of standing in front of this grateful audience is mind-blowing. You almost feel like you’ve done an amazing deed. The gratitude that you get from the audience is so much different in America.
Here, people are so open. And this openness and gratitude gives you an unbelievable freedom to open up to them. But you don’t feel it anywhere else. You only feel it here.
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