Category: eleonora sevenard


I’m wondering how Natasha Furman is studying in the Academy? I saw the posts on Instagram that she danced little Maria in the Nutcracker and it seems that teachers like her very much.

Have you seen clips of Natalie furman in the last nutcracker? Heard that she’s a promising young student, but she was prominent in the US/competitive ballet circuit so I wonder how she fairs at VBA

Natasha is, obviously, very young, and it’s too early to make any assessments or predictions. For now, she’s at VBA and she appears to be doing very well and enjoying herself. You can also follow her on YouTube for some extra videos from the Academy.

More on the weight topic. I saw in a video that one girl in Sharova’s 4th class was dismissed because of weight. Yet, there are a lot of girls in the upper classes, especially year 7 and 8, that don’t exactly have the slimmest bodies. However, Vaganova allows them to stay. Why is this?

Some of the older girls experience weight gain due to puberty, which tends to hit around the time of their final year. As this is a natural process, and not something the girls can control, the Academy tends to be more lenient, especially since the weight gained due to the onset of puberty tends to go away with time.

Thanks for posting the Bunkamura VBA video! I’m really excited about Anastasia Smirnova. Physically, she reminds me so much of Zakharova, with some Lopatkina tones as well. Of course, she will have her own dancing style. But she has a regal, mature quality to her that brings a lot of refinement to her dancing. She has a lot of potential and I’m excited to see it develop, I hope at Mariinsky as she’s perfect for that theater!

A lot of people think that she looks like Zakharova, and that’s a huge compliment. I’ve been watching Anastasia since she won the Diana Vishneva award at Vaganova Prix a few years back, and I hope she goes on to have an amazing career. She studies under Professor Kovaleva (who graduated Diana Vishneva and Olga Smirnova, among others), which is also very exciting.

Are the Vaganova teachers friendly toward one another, or are they competitive. For example, do you think that in 2015, Kovaleva was unhappy that Udalenkova’s student Shakirova was portrayed as the star of the class rather than her Nika or Anastasia Lukina? Is there a hierarchy of teachers, like the older ones get to make demands of the younger teachers like Kasenkova or Sitnikova?

Naturally, there’s a hierarchy of teachers at VBA. It’s impossible to say, as an outsider, but I imagine that there would be some healthy competition among the teachers. That being said, I don’t think senior professors like Udalenkova and Kovaleva would fight over their students. I also don’t think that Shakirova was necessarily presented as her year’s star. I remember the attention being pretty evenly spread between her and Lukina. 


What is behind the two doors at the back of the main Vaganova studio? One big room? Or two separate rooms? Or two connected rooms so that students can come out of one door and go in through the other? Or something else?

You can see the space in this video:

Why does Tsiskaridze not like Khoreva as much as Elya? Elya’s just as good, but doesn’t he see that Khoreva is a once in a generation talent? He only allowed her to debut as Masha in Nutcracker after Elya graduated, whereas he allowed Lizi and Anastasia to debut as Masha while Alexandra Khiteeva was still dancing it at Vaganova. And, in her graduating year, it was the 280th anniversary of the school, but he could’ve still let Maria dance Paquita instead of calling Elya back. She’d had her shot.

  1. I don’t think it’s fair to say that Tsiskaridze disliked Khoreva. Masha was Professor Kovaleva’s student, and Kovaleva is particular about how her students are represented publicly. Tsiskaridze was very vocal about how great Elya was (which she really was) and it did her no favours; he overexposed her.
  2. A student’s debut in a particular role is not determined by the rector alone. The student’s teacher has a lot of say in this. Plus, the student in question must typically audition to get the part.
  3. Elya was called back for a special performance, which brought together past VBA graduates, including Zakharova, Obraztsova and Smirnova; it wan’t a normal graduation performance.

What is happening with the Vladivostok school?

The short answer is: no one knows. No one on the outside, that is. The Vladivostok campus was handed over to BBA a few years ago and, curiously, Leonova’s interviews at the time suggested that the campus had always belonged to the Moscow academy. It’s been suggested that Tsiskaridze was forced to take on the Vladivostok campus, and had never really wanted it because it was a drain on VBA’s resources. Regardless of this, he had set the campus up and ran it successfully for over a year. It’s all rather bizarre. 

An interesting video of a masterclass with Tsiskaridze has just been uploaded to YouTube by Anya V. Do you have any more info about this class?

Tsiskaridze taught a master class for the 4th grade girls at VBA a few days ago. I believe that the class was part of the many conferences / educational events the Academy runs, and was open to the public (by “public” I mean ballet insiders, teachers and dancers). Thank you for the link, by the way. I have this recording in bits but not as a whole.

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Eleonora Sevenard as the Spanish Bride in Swan Lake (Bolshoi Ballet)


I read the CriticalDance interview with Khoreva from back in November, and thought her response about wanting to dance “everything” and try as many roles as possible a good example of the younger generations’ view (or lack thereof) of emploi. I can understand from an artistic perspective. I wonder how much or little Tsiskaridze inserts his own views of self-imposed emploi at the academy?

“My desire is to try as many things as possible, and when I see any ballet, I want to try to dance it, to prepare a role in it, whatever role it is. I’d love to do The Nutcracker with the Mariinsky in the future. I learned it at Vaganova, and so I already know the steps. Also, I love Giselle; I love La Bayadere, I love Swan Lake, I love Jewels, from Balanchine, especially Diamonds. It’s like I want to do everything, and if I had the chance to do any of them I’d be more than happy.” – Maria Khoreva, CriticalDance interview.

The subject of dancing "everything" also came up in this interview. I’m not sure if the context was the same, but Maria wasn’t talking about emploi or being able to dance or being suited for every role in the repertoire. Rather, she was talking about not having a particular dream role, and being excited by every opportunity she gets at the Mariinsky.

I think it’s fair to say that Tsiskaridze tries to pass on his own views to his students at the Academy, but don’t forget that Khoreva wasn’t his student. She trained under Professor Kovaleva, and I don’t know how much direct contact Tsiskaridze had had with her. I have a feeling it wasn’t a lot.

I get many questions about emploi and the modern generation of dancers’ perception of it. Being an outsider, it’s very hard for me to make a judgement or offer any insight. I think that young dancers joining companies don’t get to chose or influence what roles they get; the management makes that decision for them (effectively choosing the emploi they think fits). Sometimes they make the wrong decision. Or pigeonhole a dancer, limiting their potential. Or overloading a dancer, giving them major roles way to early. 

There are cases where an emploi is obvious early on – for example, Vaganova graduates whole classes of character dancers – but overall, I think the lines are getting blurred and there a clear emploi isn’t really a thing anymore.

Has Maria Khoreva ever danced a corps role?

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe she has. I think she jump straight into coryphee / soloist roles. If she had performed any corps roles in her first month with the Mariinsky, I haven’t seen any evidence / footage of those.

Do you think it’s overly sensitive of me to be bothered by that photo that Maria Khoreva posted of her, Xander Parish, and Peter Martins? Something about the way that Martins is holding her just makes me very uncomfortable given the misconduct allegations.

I understand your feelings, given the context, but I don’t think the photo is problematic (unfortunately I can’t find it now, but I know the photo you are referring to). Martins was invited to the Mariinsky to coach the dancers in some Balanchine works. It was a professional engagement. One that yield positive results. History can colour our perception.

How would you compare Eleonora Sevenard and Maria Khoreva? I always thought Maria was more graceful, but Nikolai Tsiskaridze seems to like Eleonora more. He did make Maria the star of the 2018 class, but he hasn’t spoken about her like he speaks about Eleonora.

I wouldn’t. I try to avoid comparing dancers as a general rule, and Khoreva and Sevenard are very different. They came from the same Academy, but they studied under different teachers, and their “styles” (for lack of a better word) of performance are different.

Tsiskaridze definitely favours Eleonora. He has said on numerous occasions that she is one of his favourite students, he has promoted her like hell when she was at the Academy (he did her a massive disservice by doing that, if you ask me) and he continued to champion her career after she had graduated. I don’t know how much contact he’s had with Khoreva during her studies, but I have a feeling it wasn’t much. He certainly never spoke of Masha the same way he does about Eleonora. Not that that is a problem. Khoreva has Professor Kovaleva behind her. She hardly needs any other help.

Khoreva is technically impressive but thus far she has been utterly disappointing artistically. All she does is smile, and much like her Paquita, her Medora was dynamically flat. It’s still very much how a student dances— no dynamic, no emphasis on certain movements and while she listens to the music, she’s not fully using it. It’s all boring and flat, which is not First Soloist at Mariinsky material. Her hands also drive me insane— her wrists are too stiff.

Maria’s lack of emotions / acting skills have been criticised by many people since she’s joined the Mariinsky (and even more so since she’s been promoted to First Soloist). To her credit, I think she is putting a lot of effort into developing this skill and is making improvements, but she will need time. That’s a risk one takes with early promotions… Not being totally ready to carry the full weight of the role. I do think she will improve quickly though, given how completely dedicated she is to her craft.

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Eleonora Sevenard as Marie, and Denis Savin as Drosselmeyer, in The Nutcracker (Bolshoi Ballet)


Vaganova Ballet Academy graduate (class of 2017) Eleonora Sevenard’s debut as Swanhilda in the Bolshoi’s “Coppelia”. Video by Olga Kim.


Both Mariinsky and VBA put on performances of the Nutcracker but I am confused about the overlap. Is it the same production in terms of costumes and choreography which is performed by the students and the company at different times? Or are they completely separate productions? Even if the Mariinsky has its own production, do they still cast young VBA students for the children in the party scene?

The production and the costumes are the same. I actually don’t know what they do in terms of the cast overlap. According to the Vaganova professional practice schedule, the students had no Mariinsky performances scheduled past November, but it’s possible that they have a different arrangement with the Mariinksy which falls outside of professional practice. Unfortunately, I’ve only ever seen recordings of the Mariinsky “The Nutcracker” (which did involve Vaganova students), so I’m not sure what the deal is exactly.  

The overlap itself isn’t too bad, by the way. I’m more interested to know what happens with the performances which fall outside of the VBA semester.

Who was your favorite Princess Masha this year?

I haven’t seen all of the recording yet, so it’s hard to tell. I think Khiteeva is really going from strength to strength with her performances though. I’m really impressed with her.

I’m kind of surprised Liza has the main role of Clara this year if she is the only year 7 to be dancing it? Is it because Aaron is on the shorter side and she pairs better with him? I’m rather surprised that A. Smirnova is not dancing Clara. I know she is taller but I’d think Marko would pair well with her..?

It’s not that surprising, actually. One of the VBA “The Nutcracker” casts usually involves a student from Grade 7 / Level II. I think they start them out early to make sure that they have a very solid cast the following year. This was the case for Khiteeva last year and Sevenard in 2015 and 2016.

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Denis Rodkin on meeting, and falling in love with, Eleonora Sevenard.

Excerpts from a recent interview.

In past interviews you’ve said that you have only ever been in love twice… You are now in a relationship with Eleonora Sevenard, a charming twenty-year-old ballerina from St Petersburg. Is this the third love in your life?

By and large, this is my first. In the past, I was only attracted to beauty and didn’t care much about substance. I tended to go for the fickle ones. With Elya, everything is different. The passion I feel is so incandescent that I no longer remember anything that came before. 

How did you two meet?

During a New Year’s eve tour in Greece, my partner couldn’t make it to the performance, and Eleonora had to replace her. We didn’t know each other at that point, thought I had seen her dance and knew how refined, elegant, educated and unlike anyone else she was. A girl from a good family. My impressions of her were confirmed when we met. Elya even exceeded my expectations. I was astounded by her kindness and thoughtfulness. I suffered a pretty bad sprain during a performance, my leg swelled up, but I had to continue on tour. Had I been alone, I would have gone mad. Of course, partners always support each other morally, but I was completely engulfed by this young woman’s care and attention. Elya tried to take my mind off things by engaging me in interesting conversations, and at some point I realised that I had completely forgotten about my leg, and all my anxiety had faded away without a trace. Naturally, I missed her once we were apart, and did everything I could so we would be together.

How did you woo her?

It was romantic.

You will soon be celebrating your one-year anniversary. What have you discovered about her during this time?

Elya is wise beyond her years. I can feel how much she values me, though she never asks for anything. She is a good friend who will always there for you. I know that I can trust her like I trust myself. Most importantly – I want to come back to her. I have never experienced this feeling before. I never used to long for home when I was on tour, but now I miss her. I think that Elya is the perfect life partner. I am happy that I found “my person”. And she fit into my family with such ease… My mom likes this girl very much (smiles). I hope that Elya and I can be together both at home and on stage. We already have one shared project: “Anna Karenina”.

Eleonora graduated from Vaganova Ballet Academy and is now a dancer with the Bolshoi’d corps de ballet, is that right?

Yes, but I am certain that with her talent and brains she will not stay there for long. She is going to go far.

She is burdened with the legacy of Mathilde Kschessinska…

Elya has the right attitude: she doesn’t brag about her ancestry, and she’s determined to earn her position. This gives her a great incentive to progress, and I intend to help her. 

Photos by Darian Volkova.

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More 2018 updates can be found here. A big thank you to the anons who keep sending in the updates!


Maria Khoreva 

The Three Odalisques – Le Corsiaire – 22 September (with Ionova and Nuykina)
Prince’s friends – Swan Lake – 30 September
Rose Adagio – Mariinsky’s tour in Japan – December


Elenora Sevenard 

Princess Soronkina  – Anna Karenina – 12 October
Piccilia / First variation in Grand Pas – Don Quixote – 22 September
Giselle’s friends – Giselle – 9, 10 October
Valtz / Spanish Bride – Swan Lake – 25, 26 September 

Alena Kovaleva

Odette/Odile – Swan Lake – September 25
Myrtha – Giselle – 10 October
Princess Soronkina – Anna Karenina – 13 October
Ballerina – Etudes – 29 September
The Leading Couple, Diamonds – Jewels – 16 October

Oscar Frame

Rubies / Emeralds – Jewels – 17, 30, 31 October

Egor Gerashchenko 

Von Rothbart – Swan Lake – 25 September
Couple in White – Forgotten Land – 29 September

Anamarija Markovic

Anamarija (class of 2018) has joined the Croatian National Theatre as First Soloist!

Denis Rodkin and Eleonora Sevenard performing a pas de deux from The Nutcracker (Bolshoi Ballet, 2018)

So many people have such negative things to say about Eleonora. I think it's quite disturbing that they form opinions based on nothing but social media and dance clips. Her actual dancing aside, what does she do on social media that portrays her as a bad person? She doesn't post excessively and she has healthy relationships outside of the theater.

She hasn’t done anything on social media to warrant this reaction. She’s always been incredibly reserved and composed in all of her public / media appearances. She presents herself to the world in a very careful and guarded way. Elya is not the problem.

I can understand it when people criticise her dancing – she can be hit and miss – however, she has only been with the company for a year and has been virtually overloaded with work. The fact that she’s risen to meet every challenge to the best of her abilities is commendable.

It’s easy to say that people’s reaction is governed be jealousy, but that’s a lazy explanation (however true it may be). I think Tsiskardze is partly to blame for this negative attitude (I’ve said many times before that he overexposed Elya in her last two years with the academy). Then there was the thing with Elya’s father deciding to claim that he’s descended from the Romanovs on the eve of Elya’s graduation (this drama played out on national television). Aaaaand then there was the whole “Mathilde” business (again, it was unfolding around the time of Elya’s graduation). I think people simply got sick of seeing Elya’s name pop up everywhere, though this was hardly her fault. 

On the other hand, I think there are people out there who don’t react well to seeing someone achieve so much success in such a short time with apparently little effort (the latter is obviously not true).

Elya is very beautiful and very young; she is from a good and very well-of family; she belongs to the Kshessinsky dynasty; she dances with the Bolshoi and is showered with roles and opportunities; she is dating a famous principal dancer and the two appear to be very much in love; Nikolai Tsiskaridze adores her and is very vocal about it. I could go on, but this list alone is enough to make (some) people very unhappy.

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