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Svetlana Zakharova (dancer)

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Svetlana Zakharova
Svetlana Zakharova in 2015
Svetlana Yuryevna Zakharova

(1979-06-10) 10 June 1979 (age 45)
EducationKyiv state choreographic school, Vaganova Ballet Academy
SpouseVadim Repin
Current groupBolshoi Ballet
Former groupsMariinsky Ballet
DancesSwan Lake, Giselle, Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, La Bayadère, Raymonda,The Pharaoh's Daughter

Svetlana Yuryevna Zakharova (Ukrainian: Світлана Юріївна Захарова, Russian: Светлана Юрьевна Захарова; born 10 June 1979) is a Ukrainian-born prima ballerina who dances with the Bolshoi Ballet[1] and an étoile of the La Scala Theatre Ballet.[2]

Early life


Svetlana Zakharova was born in Lutsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union, on 10 June 1979. At the age of six, she was taken by her mother to learn folk dancing at a local studio, and by the age of 10, she had auditioned and was accepted into the Kyiv Choreography School. Valeria Sulegina was one of her teachers.[3]

In 1995, after six years at the Kyiv School, Zakharova entered the Young Dancers' Competition (Vaganova-Prix) in St. Petersburg. The youngest contestant, she took second prize and was invited to continue her training in the graduating course of St Petersburg's Vaganova Academy.[4] It was the first time in the school's history to allow a student to skip two grades.[5]

After attending the pre-eminent Russian ballet school for one year, Zakharova then joined the Mariinsky ballet in 1996.[6]

Mariinsky Ballet


Zakharova debuted with the Mariinsky Ballet in 1996, appearing as Maria with Ruben Bobovnikov, in Rostislav Zakharov's The Fountain of Bakhchisarai.

In 1997, after her first year with the Mariinsky, at 18, Zakharova was promoted to principal dancer. Her first partner was principal Igor Zelensky.[7] Olga Moiseyeva was her coach.[3]

Bolshoi Ballet


By 2003, Zakharova "was getting itchy feet" at the Mariinsky, and moved to the Bolshoi Ballet.[6] The offer from the Bolshoi company was longstanding, and the departure from the Mariinsky was reportedly due to discontent with that company, as well as personal invitation from the legendary Vladimir Vasiliev.[8]

Zakharova is coached by Lyudmila Semenyaka.[3]

Rise to fame


From 1999 on, Zakharova regularly performed as a guest soloist at the Paris Opera where she worked with French choreographer Pierre Lacotte. Lacotte is viewed as a leading authority on classical ballet[9] contributing to the career of Evgenia Obraztsova and Hannah O'Neill. Svetlana Zakharova was the first Ukrainian-born Russian principal dancer performing in Paris and became a world star[3] as of 2000.

Successful assignments followed, ranging from great classical roles like Giselle, Odette-Odile in "Swan Lake", Aurora in "Sleeping Beauty", and Nikiya in "La Bayadère," to such modern works as Balanchine's "Serenade", "Symphony in C" and "Apollo" as well as McMillan's "Manon" and Neumeier's "Now and Then"[7][10]

At La Scala Theatre Ballet in Italy, Zakharova danced with partner Roberto Bolle in Swan Lake, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, and La Bayadère.

Other notable appearances: Zakharova was one of the dancers featured in the 2006 documentary Ballerina. She has presented her own TV programme (Svetlana) on Russian television, a festival of children's dance running from 2015 to 2018. As of July 2020, she is also presenting "Bolshoi Ballet", a ballet competition for professional ballet dancers. She has performed in her own solo programme, sold out across Europe, "Modanse", a more modern ballet, and "Coco", an homage to Coco Chanel featuring costumes from the eponymous design house.[11]


  • 1997 : Vaganova-Prix Young Dancers Competition, Sankt-Peterburg (2nd prize)
  • 1999 : Golden Mask for Serenade
  • 2000 : Golden Mask for The Sleeping Beauty
  • 2005 : Prix Benois de la Danse for Hippolita (Titania) in A Midsummer Night's Dream[12]
  • 2006 : State Prize of the Russian Federation[13]
  • 2008 People's artist of Russia
  • 2008 Elected State Duma deputy ( Russian parliament)
  • 2015 : Prix Benois de la Danse for Marguerite Gautier in "The Lady of the Camellias" by John Neumeier and Mekhmene-Banu in "Légende d'amour" by Yury Grigorovich

Personal life


Zakharova is married to Russian violinist Vadim Repin, and they have one child, daughter Anna (b. 2011). She had withdrawn from the Bolshoi Ballet tour to London in the summer of 2010 citing a hip injury; she was pregnant at the time. Zakharova returned to dancing, and performed in London on 15 May 2011, in a gala performance celebrating Soviet ballerina Galina Ulanova.

A member of United Russia party, Zakharova was a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin and the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation during the Russo-Ukrainian War, which led to a break in her relationship with the Kyiv Choreographic School in particular.[14]


  1. ^ "Svetlana Zakharova". Bolshoi Theatre. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  2. ^ "Etoiles Biographies". Teatro alla Scala. Retrieved 29 October 2015.
  3. ^ a b c d A Young Ballerina Learns to Walk Through Open Doors, biography of Svetlana Zakharova by Gia Kourlas, The New York Times, 21 July 2005.
  4. ^ Svetlana Zakharova – The embodiment of joy and beauty, article by Elena Fyodorenko, 11 June 2009.
  5. ^ Svetlana Zakharova, announcement, programme La Bayadère, the Belgrad Music Festival, 26 October 2015.
  6. ^ a b Monahan, Mark (15 July 2006). "The Jewel in the Bolshoi's Crown". The Telegraph. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  7. ^ a b Svetlana Zakharova's page, at the Bolchoi Theatre
  8. ^ Ng, Kevin. "Interview with Zakharova". ballet.co.uk. Archived from the original on 15 September 2008.
  9. ^ Danse : les nouveaux visages de « Paquita » au Palais Garnier, article by Philippe Noisette, Les Echos, 5 May 2015.
  10. ^ The embodiment of joy and beauty, article by Elena Fyodorenko, Russia Now, 11 June 2009.
  11. ^ Parry, Jann (9 December 2019). "Svetlana Zakharova – Modanse: Gabrielle Chanel, Come un Respiro – London". DanceTabs. Retrieved 16 July 2022.
  12. ^ "Nominees: Female Dancers". Prix Benois de la Danse. 2005. Retrieved 23 October 2015.
  13. ^ "Presidential Decree of 05.06.2007 N 700". kremlin.ru. Archived from the original on 28 May 2008.
  14. ^ "Ukraine Ballet School Rejects Charity from Pro-Putin Dancer". Agence France-Presse. 13 December 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2015.