While the Mariinsky Prima Ballerina does not find 35 (October 23) to be any special milestone, she granted Izvestia a particularly long interview with Svetlana Naborschikova that the paper titled Ballerina Ulyana Lopatkina: "The fate of former dancers - psychological death"
I will summarize parts and quote others. Especially when she gets philosophical, i.e., almost always, I apologize for my inadequate translation.
(Even if you don't read Russian it is worth the click to view an extensive (11) photo set.)
After discussing upcoming events, including galas in the dancer's honor (she preferred not to discuss what she would dance, wanting the audience to be surprised), she began talking about what she would like to do in the future. "I want to dance modern ballets. They permit one to express the power of human experience..." She wants to be open to experimentation and finds that classical ballet performances require a rigid beauty; inside she finds a mass of unused energy.
We all wear a holiness
When asked how she felt about being called an icon of Russian ballet she becomes philosophical and finds that this applies to dancers more generally, that there is a hope, desire, even a prerequisite longing for a higher state. "We all wear a sainthood, it manifests in varying degrees within dancers, but this potential is placed in each of us." Perhaps people who speak in terms of icons are particularly sensitive to art and they are formulating a feeling they may have experienced during a performance. When asked whether living almost her entire artistic life this way is easy, she said that conforming to this high level is always difficult, doing this work with soul and body... "Choose the way. Do not deviate. The internal goal is always important... the perfect image coincides with my inner desires." But she cautions about basing goals on ideals, speaking of a simple human task of living and moving forward. She warns of idolizing creation, it can be like a disease when people blindly love someone or something, their actions aimed only at the loved subject, and she would not like to be like that, but instead respects the talent of every person, although it is possible to bow in admiration of someone.
Asked for examples of artists to whom she bows in admiration she answers
I can think of a lot of them. The composer Rodion Shchedrin. Yuri Bashmet. Mikhail Baryshnikov--not as a genius of dance, but as a man who continues his creative life, opening up the talents of others. I was in his New York arts center. Young directors and choreographers are freed to rehearse, perform. This left an indelible impression on me.
There is then a long discussion of living in St. Petersburg. She was born in the Crimea and in her early years she found the city cold, with poverty, decay and terror--all this deepened by her loneliness away from parents while spending eight years at the ballet school. However the city's revival has changed that and now its beauty amazes her. She speaks of the city in terms of Peter. And still only feels like a guest in Peter's house. When Moscow is mentioned the interviewer recalls seeing her at the golden wedding celebration of Rodion Shchedrin and Maya Plisetskaya.
For me, this union is unique. Two legends with the same fate. History is full of examples where one bright personality destroyed another. But in this case, two unique people were able to coexist with each other, inspire each other. The fact that I live at the same time with them, that I can communicate with them, hear the composer perform his works - is already happiness. My seat was next to where the prima Maya Mikhailovna sat, and next - Rodion Konstantinovich. An interesting experience, touching their human energy! To feel they are near. Whew - shoulder to shoulder ... I am convinced that Shchedrin is the absolutely brilliant contemporary Russian composer. Hard to understand, but he very deeply reflects the essence of today's Russian man. We are unable to define what we have, but the works of Shchedrin is it, and he does not need verbal explanations.
Asked if she could imagine herself dancing onstage at 82, as Maya Plisetskaya just did, she answered that she had not yet thought about it, that she tries to live today. When then asked what is next for her, when the day comes to leave ballet:
This is not an easy issue for me, and for many of my colleagues. Since the age of 10 years, our life - ballet. All is put into its service.. And when the term of the instrument, your trained body, ends the question arises: how to apply your professional skills next? What to do? Teachers are not required in great quantities. Profession of choreographer - a special talent. And in the end? Psychological death. I dreamed all my life to paint, design, to master foreign languages, but not far enough. I now no longer am of an age to desire to make a new profession. So, what are you - spent, but not nearly the material ready for recycling? [she then discusses this problem in other countries]. The tragedy of Retired Persons...
This eventually leads to the rumors a while ago that she might lead the Mariinsky Ballet.
Rumors are rumors. With regard to the specific facts, to date, I am prima ballerina of the Mariinsky Theater. We have the theater's artistic director Valery Gergiev, and the acting head of the ballet troupe is Yuri Fateev. Now the question is who will become the ballet's artistic director. It is expected that this should be a choreographer. Certainly I do not have enough to be an artistic director: lack leadership impact on the level of artistic process. The questions are many - what to perform... the importance of acting for the dancers. They must act. Otherwise, ballet crumbles... It requires sense. [otherwise] it becomes like a sporting event, but without the inherent "sport" and the desire for victory. So why spend time on this spectacle? For example, I dance parts in known ballets. I am more interested in their emotional content, the drama of all the participants in the performance. To ensure that the art of ballet is of human concern, is part of the routine, day-to-day responsibilities of a company's leader. This is in addition to the primary goal - to create new productions, search for interesting choreographers ... In short, what constitutes artistic direction.
When asked whether Valery Gergiev does not want to share authority, Ms. Lopatkina says "I don't have such an impression. He is searching. Finding an artistic director for a company with the scope of the Mariinsky Theater is a heavy task."
The interview concludes with a "blitz" of short questions.
Q: What are the weaknesses you're willing to forgive in yourself?
Q: What quality do you most value in women?
A: Kindness, wisdom, patience.
Q: And in men?
A: Generosity, responsibility.
Q: Your idea of happiness?
A: The love inside you and the love of you.