“I love how they make jumping so light, so effortless and so quiet, and how they make balancing easy (which I especially appreciate for the Rose Adagio). I adore them!”
Delicate and waif-like, with a sweet face and an enchanting smile, young Evgenia Obraztsova has already demonstrated such technique and artistry in principal roles at the Mariinsky that her stardom seems inevitable and her place as one of the great dancers of the early 21st century assured.
They say it takes ten years to make a dancer; in this case, it took ten to make the dancer and one more to make the star. At age eight, Genia – as her friends call her – started in a preparation class; at age eighteen, she joined the Mariinsky. She was formed at the legendary Vaganova Academy, where her teachers included Lyudmila Safronova, Marina Vasilieva, and the late Inna Zubkovskaya. A year later, Genia made her debut in Romeo and Juliet, having spent a year preparing the role while also dancing her regular parts in the corps de ballet. She enjoyed an enormous success and continues to be one of the company’s finest Juliets, regularly melting the hearts of even the most “seen-it-all” balletomanes.
Other leading roles soon followed: La Sylphide, The Legend of Love, The Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, and – particularly exciting – Ondine. Pierre Lacotte, the choreographer famous for his production of the lost ballet Pharaoh’s Daughter, chose Genia specifically for the role, along with Mariinsky superstar Diana Vishneva.
It was another spectacular success for Genia: she was honored with the prestigious Golden Mask Award for her performance. It wasn’t easy. Ondinedemands that the ballerina dance five variations in two acts; the challenging original choreography in the style of the Paris Opera includes super-fast footwork and tricky jumps.
Another challenge was Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty. Genia likens it to “an exam for a ballerina,” requiring not only great strength, but also the ability to conquer the nerves that can make even the greatest ballerinas wobble, especially during the notorious – but glorious when done perfectly – balances in the Rose Adagio. It was Genia’s dream role and she more than rose to the occasion, dancing it triumphantly in the United States and abroad.
Other special leading roles in Genia’s repertory include the recent revival of Le Reveil de Flore, Giselle, Bournonville’s Flower Festival at Genzano, Forsythe’sThe Vertiginous Thrill of Exactitude, In the Middle Somewhat Elevated, andApproximate Sonata. She loves dancing Balanchine’s choreography – Ballet Imperial, Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux – although she had to work to feel comfortable in his style. She finds that its form is freer and allows her to bring more individuality to her dancing than the classic ballerina roles. And in the future? Genia would love to dance Don Quixote.
She discovered Gaynor Minden in 2006 and finds that they work well on all kinds of floors and they never break down or deform, even during the most demanding performances.
Her career allows little time for pursuits outside dance, but Genia loves to be outdoors enjoying nature, whenever she can and she likes to read, especially dancers’ memoirs.
Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux photo by Enrico Nawrath.
Sleeping Beauty photo by Neff.