Special project Foreigners in St. Petersburg

It has been long time the Russian ballet has opened its doors to the world, and our domestic theatres confirm the statement. The companies have become very multinational: with the dancers from Korea, Japan, Brazil, USA and Europe. The foreign names are so hotly favourite to the Russian audience, and we’ve been already watching the dancers graduating from Russian academies. La Personne team has met seven foreigners, dancing in Mariinsky Theatre, and created extended photo stories about future (and current!) heroes of the Russian stage. We were wandering with them by the windy Neva costs, we got behind the scenes and to the studios and even asked to be allowed to visit the secret art and sculpture workshops of St. Petersburg.  

Mikhail Barkidzhidzha

USA

Antonina Fatkhullina’s Workshop

Mikhail Barkidzhidzha

Author: Olga Ugarova

Photos: Ira Yakovleva

I was born in Chicago. My father is Croatian; my mother is Russian. My parents never belonged to the world of art but my mother wanted to be a ballerina since childhood. Probably, that’s why we’ve got into the school dance studio with my elder brother. But to say the truth it was additional to football (smiling). When I was about 10, it was decided to focus on one thing, and I chose ballet.

Mikhail Barkidzhidzha

I can’t say that there’ve been a specific ballet prodded me to this decision. It happens sometimes that the guys want to become dancers after being impressed by some extraordinary performance onstage.

Mikhail Barkidzhidzha

It turned differently with me. I had been dancing a lot since childhood, there were a lot of dancing at home. The ballet became not only happiness for me, but also the embodiment of freedom to move and to express yourself.

Why was it ballet, but not jazz or contemporary, for example? Because I like the discipline of a body very much. Working on the tiny nuances of movement, the millimeters of the pose and the smallest details of a role – all this carves an irreproachable beauty.

When I was 14, I got into the Vaganova Ballet Academy. We went to my grandparents for the vacations. Mikhail BarkidzhidzhaI remember how we’ve dreamt me to get just a lesson at the school on Rossi street, because even a simple visit to the legendary studios has been a happiness itself. And we managed! After a lesson I got a proposal to stay. Two final years I studied under the guidance of Nikolay Tsiskaridze. He didn’t just give the lessons, he discussed literature and art with us, we visited theatres and museums together. It was cool! I am very glad that even now we have an opportunity to communicate and to train with him.

I am happy to be a part of the Mariinsky ballet company. St. Petersburg has become a home city for me, and the stage has become my home. My teachers and friends are here, they believe in me and support me. This is priceless!

Mikhail Barkidzhidzha

Mikhail Barkidzhidzha

Sculptures by Antonina Fatkhullina

Special thanks to PR-department of the Mariinsky Theatre and Vitaly Kotov in person for assistance in creating the material.

Special thanks to Antonina Fatkhullina for assistance in creating the material.