Svetlana Zakharova (dancer)

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Svetlana Zakharova
Svetlana Zakharova in Moscow 06-2015.jpg
Svetlana Zakharova in 2015
Born (1979-06-10) June 10, 1979 (age 38)
Lutsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union
Residence Russia
Education Kyiv Choreographic School, Vaganova Ballet Academy
Occupation Ballerina
Height 175 cm (5 ft 9 in)
Spouse(s) Vadim Repin
Children One
Current group Bolshoi Ballet
Former groups Mariinsky Ballet

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

Early life[edit]

Svetlana Zakharova was born in Lutsk, Ukrainian SSR, Soviet Union, on June 10, 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 Kiev 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 only for one year, Svetlana Zakharova joined the Mariinsky ballet in 1996.[6]

Mariinsky Ballet[edit]

Svetlana 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, just 18 years old, Svetlana Zakharova was promoted to principal dancer.

Her first partner was principal Igor Zelensky.[7] Olga Moiseyeva was her great coach.[3]

Bolshoi Ballet[edit]

By October 2003, Svetlana 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.[8]

Zakharova is coached by Lyudmila Semenyaka.[3]

Rise to Fame as Principal Ballerina[edit]

From 1999 on, turning 20 years old, Svetlana 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 Russian principal dancer performing in Paris and became a world star[3] as of 2000.

One stunningly successful assignment followed another, 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 Mac-Millian's "Manon" and Neumeier's "Now and Then"[7][10]

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

Zakharova was one of the dancers featured in the 2006 documentary Ballerina.


Svetlana Zakharova is nicknamed the Tsarina of the dance.[11]


She is viewed as one of the greatest ballerinas of her generation and is highly regarded for her technical expertise, her exquisite feet, her exceptionally high extensions and her musicality. Not all critics find her extreme positions aesthetically pleasing, as they do not conform to classical ballet norms.[12]

Vladimir Vasiliev, director of the Bolshoi ballet from 1995 to 2000 and as a principal dancer on a level with Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov,[13] described Svetlana Zakharova as "nature endowed" having everything a girl dreaming of ballet could want.

He pointed out that perfection had one drawback, the dryness of the limit.

When working briefly with Svetlana Zakharova, Vasiliev changed his idea of her - of the actress. He felt the inner churning of her emotions and the lively beating of her heart.

"In an adagio from the ballet "Macbeth", Svetlana was for me a joyous revelation."[10]

In the flesh, it's hard not to be a little dazzled by Svetlana Zakharova's improbably fine features and impossibly big blue eyes - but these are merely the finishing touches of a long, strong, beautifully proportioned body that's one of the great balletic instruments of our times.[6]


Personal life[edit]

Svetlana Zakharova is married to Russian violinist Vadim Repin, and the couple have one child, a daughter Anna, who was born on February 17, 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 May 15, 2011, in a gala performance celebrating Soviet ballerina Galina Ulanova.

She named the Italian danseur Roberto Bolle as one of her favorite partners.

A member of United Russia party, Svetlana Zakharova was a vocal supporter of Russian president Vladimir Putin and the annexation of Crimea by the Russian Federation during the Ukrainian crisis, which led to a break in her relationship with the Kyiv Choreographic School in particular.[16]


  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 Mucic Festival, 26 October 2015.
  6. ^ a b c 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". 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. ^ a b The embodiment of joy and beauty, article by Elena Fyodorenko, Russia Now, 11 June 2009.
  11. ^ At a time, there is only one Tsarina.
  12. ^ Macaulay, Alastair (21 November 2011). "Sleeping Beauty Review". New York Times. 
  13. ^ Interview: Mathias Heymann, principal dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet, by Patricia Boccadoro, 2 November 2009,
  14. ^ "Nominees: Female Dancers". Prix Benois de la Danse. 2005. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 
  15. ^ "Presidential Decree of 05.06.2007 N 700". Archived from the original on 28 May 2008. 
  16. ^ "Ukraine Ballet School Rejects Charity from Pro-Putin Dancer". Agence France-Presse. 13 December 2014. Retrieved 23 October 2015. 

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