Iana Salenko: “Experience brings you more and more happiness to be on stage”

she One of the stars of the Berlin BalletHe fills the room in his name alone. 39-year-old Ayana Salenko is one of the greatest classical dancers of her generation. The Ukrainian ballerina, director of the Berlin company, danced all the roles of the repertoire and each of them in multiple versions. She settled in Germany since she met the dancer Marian Walter, her companion in life and sometimes partner on stage, pursues an exciting career. She is very present on social networks, and also shows the audience that it is quite compatible to be a dancer of a very high level and the mother of three boys. The day after the movie premiereOnegin For John Cranko, DALP was able to meet Yana Salenko. She recalls the wonderful moments of her career, her complicated arrival in Berlin before mentioning Choreographers I’ve collaborated withNotably Alexei Ratmansky and Marcia Heidi, or her life as a dancer and mother of three.

Iana Salenko and Marian Walter – Swan Lake

This is a question we like to ask when we meet the dancers. How did dancing come into your life?

I think it all comes from my father because he loved dancing and music. My grandmother was a musician. So I heard a lot of music when I was a kid and that’s how dancing started. But I saw my first ballet on stage quite late because my mother was not a big fan of dancing, and I was more interested in sports, gymnastics and skating. I must have been twelve or thirteen years old when I first saw ballet in the theatre.

And when did you realize you wanted to make dancing your job?

It was instant. I was 12, and I started dancing but I didn’t really know what ballet was. My teacher spotted my abilities and asked if I was interested. I said yes right away. I deeply felt that this is what I wanted to do: dance.

Your career began in Ukraine where you were born before you came to Germany. How was Berlin chosen?

It was a tough time. I was already working for the Ukrainian National Ballet in Kyiv, but I wanted to go see other cities, other companies and different styles of dance. I went to a competition and there I met my future husband, Marian Walter, who was already working at the Berlin Ballet. It looked perfect. Then the company was run by Vladimir Malakhov, and she loved his work and the dancer that he was. But he didn’t want to take me to the company. I’m small and very skinny and my body doesn’t match her vision of dancing. We married Marianne and they needed the company of a younger dancer. So I was finally hired in 2005, but it was tough. I danced the main roles in Ukraine, received the highest rank in the company, and in Berlin was considered a semi-soloist. It was like stepping back.

Did you feel any form of discrimination?

No, I wouldn’t call it discrimination but it was tough. There was the language barrier because I didn’t speak German at the time. It was also another culture and I felt very lonely. I arrived in Berlin and it was as if I was starting from scratch in my career. It was really hard times for me, I had to learn other rules but I was very determined, I wanted this new life.

Iana Salenko – Lsleeping beauty

Then your career accelerated and he was asked by the Royal Ballet in 2013 as a guest artist. What memories do you have of this period?

It was amazing. The Royal Ballet is a company that I dreamed of working for. There I danced great roles and they finally offered me a permanent contract. But I already had a family here in Berlin. Marianne can’t come to London. They have been wonderful years. I danced with the Royal Ballet for five years, met new choreographers there, and other styles and I’m always grateful to the Royal Ballet for letting me live these years in my career.

What roles have meant the most to you in your career?

I would find it difficult to quote them. I loved all the roles you interpreted. But what changes over the years is the fun we have in doing it.. At the beginning of my career, I said to myself yes, this is difficult but I will show what I can do. The experience brings you more and more happiness to be on stage. I obviously have fond memories of Kenneth Macmillan’s work in London and had the opportunity to work with Peter Wright who was by my side for Nutcracker.

You just took on the role of Tatiana in Onegin. what does it represent to you?

It’s a challenge because every business is different. These are different feelings as the story progresses and the character grows. You have to show this development from the young girl to the woman who has had many trials and it is always difficult to show that to the public, it is a lot of fun and emotions.

I loved all the roles you interpreted. What changes over the years is the fun we have in doing it.

You danced with your husband, Marian Walter, who starred in Onegin. We imagine it special to be on stage with your buddy?

It’s very special because we don’t dance much Onegin. We also know that we are at the end of our career and for me it was like Tatiana’s dance for the last time. Anyway, that’s how I felt and I’m glad we lived this moment together, doing everything to be on top. Obviously I want to dance as much as I can and for as long as I can. The day I feel like I can’t or it’s too hard, I’ll stop. But I will do my best to the end because it is my life. I am open to new challenges and new creations.

I danced in it sleeping Princess By Marcia Haydée who has been postponed several times due to Covid. How did you work with this legendary dancer?

He is an incredible person. I watched her in the studio and listened to her corrections. And what she told me wasn’t just about the role of Aurore, but it resonated with all of the roles. Marcia Heidi always has a positive energy, she is very benevolent in her work. You would never say you have to do this or that. Take into account each individual’s personality to find the best fit for the interpretation. It allows the dancers to explore their path, they are always flexible. What she insists on is interpretation, and the way she plays the part is more than just the technical aspect. This is the artist’s vision Who cares above all else.

In the anthology of choreographers I’ve worked with, there’s also Alexe Ratmansky who’s back here Al Bayader According to Stepanov’s blogs to find the original or in no way come close to it. How was working with him?

In fact, we know each other very well. He is Ukrainian like me. I even saw him dance in Ukraine and he really had amazing energy on stage. Like a ball of fire. was dancing The tarantula is an Italian folk dance by George Balanchine. This is my first memory of Alexei Ratmansky. Working with him here in Berlin was like a game, he makes impossible dance moves. But he is having fun. Says : “We try, we’ll see“. The studio is like a playground with him. To me, he is an exceptional choreographer and friend.

Iana Salenko – Jewels by George Balanchine

You are very active on social networks where you share a lot of your experiences. Would you like to be in more direct contact with the audience?

completely. I would dream about my favorite artists like Sylvie Guillem or Mikhail Baryshnikov who are on social networks if they were there in their time to share their wonderful experiences and career. I was also thinking of showing that we, Dancers We are human like everyone else And not the heroes we see on stage. We have one life and one family. It’s kind of my message, to try to give positive energy, and then talk to the audience.

Speaking of family life, you have three children, three boys. You’re not the only dancer in this case, but there are still quite a few. It is not easy to combine family life with the requirements of a high-level profession. You have shared photos and videos of your pregnancy with the audience while you continue to train and train. Did you want to show that anything is possible for a woman and that pregnancy should not be considered an obstacle when it often still is?

definitely. everything is possible. I am convinced that this is precisely a form of harmony. You can have the life you want and be a good dancer. I want to share this and show that it is possible. Sure it’s tough but that’s life. We live for it and our future is also at stake because children are our future. We learn a lot from our children. Yes: I want to show this to the public.

You also spoke very quickly about your return to the studio. She made no secret of the difficulties of resuming this bodily routine after giving birth. Do you think your company management helped you at this very moment?

No not really. In fact, when you come back, everyone expects you to be the same as before, just as good. But it motivates me every time. I tell myself ok! I have to be stronger, find my level faster than last time and be better than before. It’s a tough moment, such a comeback after pregnancy. I’m lucky to have Marianne by my side, he’s always so present. he told me : ” Go dancing, stay at home…“.

Are your children tempted by ballet?

the eldest no (Laughter…). He’s 14, and he grew up with us, and we often took him to the studio. He quickly understood how difficult it was. He tried a little and gave up quickly. The youngest is three and a half years old and he is really talented. He is very flexible and dances when he listens to music. We tell ourselves that maybe he’s going to be tempted to get into it. And most recently a kid, he’s playing now!

Iana Salenko – Onegin By John Cranko (as Olga)

Iana Salenko will dance with Staatsballett Berlin sleeping Princess On 2 and 5 December 2002, Swan Lake 23 and 25 December 2022 and 4, 13 and 20 January 2023,Don Quixote At the Opera in Rome on December 27, 29 and 30, 2022.


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