• Jan 16,2018
  • In Interview
  • By Protima Chatterjee

‘Art is in constant oscillation and research. It’s human nature to want evolution. Dance is no different’…..Zenaida Yanowsky, Former Principal of The Royal Ballet in conversation- in the run up to Sadler’s Wells Sampled – 2 & 3 February 2018

Zenaida Yanowsky performs Dying Swan (at Sadler’s Wells Sampled on both days, evening performances)….A solo created specifically for the ballet dancer Anna Pavlova by Mikhail Fokine in 1905, set to Camille Saint-Saëns’s cello solo Le Cygne from Le Carnaval des Animaux (The Carnival of the Animals).

1. What does dance mean to you and how according to you has dance evolved over the years?

Dance for me means communicating experiences or feelings and energies through movement.  Dance has physically and technically evolved at fast speed but the soul of the art form remains the same”.

2. What is the most memorable moment in your 23 years with the Royal Ballet?

I don’t think I can single out a memorable moment because 23 years at the Royal Ballet carries so many amazing experiences… but in the sense of achievement, there’s two that I could probably highlight

First, is when I was made Principal Dancer as it meant I was ready to explore all those amazing roles.

Second would be my first performance after having my kids. 

I will never forget that overwhelming emotional rollercoaster”.

3. Do you dance better when you are happy or when you are sad?/Do you think personal emotions and feelings can affect your craft and have an impact on the performance?

I prefer to be in a neutral state of mind but there’s been times where my personal emotional state has had an impact both negative or positive depending on the day”.

4. If you were to start a dance school like your parents, where would it be?

I don’t know… the idea scares me”.

5. You have performed some of the most notable classical roles in your career. Which

Is the closest to your heart?

Hard to answer… better ask the audience”.

You think you performed the best?

On the day, all of them. The following day, none of them”.

You feel you could have done even better?

All of them! The sense of improvement never ends”.

6. Ballet has journeyed through its romantic period to neoclassical to contemporary. How do you perceive the various stages of change?

Art is in constant oscillation and research. It’s human nature to want evolution. Dance is no different”.

7. Dying Swan, the legendary piece you are performing at Sadler’s Sampled was originally made for and performed by Anna Pavlova. Pavlova besides being a renowned Ballerina is known for her multicultural collaborations in dance at a time when the world did not know the term globalisation. What did you think about Pavlova’s path breaking partnerships, for example with Uday Shankar, the Indian dance pioneer? What are your thoughts about two cultures coming together to co- create?

 “Pavlova’s hunger for researching new experiences in her dancing and therefore collaborations was obviously insatiable, and that’s why she was such a pioneer of dance. 

I love cultures coming together…not only in dance…”.

8. Do you see yourself choreographing at any stage?

 ” No. But then… life sometimes surprises you”.

9. Words to live by? Or what would be your advice for young aspiring dancers?

Don’t waste time and don’t worry if the path is not flat. A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner”.

Image: Zenaida Yanowsky as Sylvia in a Royal Ballet production of Sylvia, 7 March 2008. (C) Scillystuff on English Wikepedia

Sadler’s Wells Sampled, features world-class dance and a series of workshops and foyer activities, on Friday 2 & Saturday 3 February 2018. The festival gives audiences a chance to experience the broad range of dance presented at Sadler’s Wells  Following its London run, Sampled will then tour to The Lowry, Salford Quays as part of The Movement, a producing partnership for dance between Sadler’s Wells, The Lowry and Birmingham Hippodrome. Sampled features a wide variety of dance, from classical ballet to hip hop, contemporary and flamenco.
For full line up and ticket information  https://www.sadlerswells.com/whats-on/2018/sadlers-wells-sampled/