Prima ballerina Elena Svinko dances with the Russian State Ballet & Orchestra of Siberia at St David’s Hall, Cardiff in the traditional Christmas visit to the city.
While Elena has always adored ballet she is not from artistic parents; her mother is a doctor and her father work in a factory – but dance is in the family now. “I was born in Krasnoyarsk in Siberia and graduated from the Krasnoyarsk State Choreographic College. I followed in the footsteps of my older sister, who performs in the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre – founded by ballet choreographer, Leonid Jacobson.”
This is the first time the company is presenting four productions in one season. Before Christmas The Nutcracker and then Swan Lake is traditionally after Christmas, and two Prokofiev productions Cinderella and Romeo & Juliet.
“Again, the well-known stories of these productions are a dream we all want to come true, and Christmas is actually the time when dreams turn into reality. I think the audience will enjoy the entire Christmas repertoire. The tunes of Tchaikovsky and Prokofiev are powerful, lyrical and mesmerising.
“I actually perform in all four ballets – as Cinderella, Marie in The Nutcracker, Odette/Odile in Swan Lake and as Juliet. All my characters are different but similar in their lyricism and sensibility, but the feelings are different in each ballet.
“Cinderella happily marries her Prince, Marie awakes from her dream and is happy to find her Prince. The two last productions are about tragic love – Odette loses her prince in the battle with Baron Rothbart in Swan Lake and Juliet dies next to her beloved Romeo because she is unable to cope living without him. However, in our production of Romeo & Juliet their souls reunite in another world!
“All four ballets will certainly appeal to different audiences. Usually, families come to our shows and children, parents and grandparents all enjoy the performances together with different feelings.
Children dream of what can happen in their lives and how they will fall in love. Will that love continue through all their life? Adults can reminisce about the happy life they have lived and are currently enjoying next to their loved ones.”
Elena has been fascinated by ballet ever since she can remember. “I went to the ballet school when I was 11 and started performing on stage at the age of 17. I love ballet because it’s a joy to inhabit the roles of different characters, and I appreciate when the audience can feel what I feel on stage. Different roles help me to achieve better interpretation of each one of them.”
The company tours extensively and Cardiff is firmly on their circuit.
“The audience always feels the authenticity of emotions on stage. The artists know that their dancing was good when that emotion has spread through the auditorium and we have been applauded by the audience, who don’t want to leave! The audience simply won’t receive the ballet warmly if they don’t feel genuinely moved the emotion on stage.
“We love performing in Cardiff. I hope this feeling is mutual because we perform with all our hearts, and hopefully will open their hearts to us in return.”
Being away for Christmas Day, normally the dancers and the full team get together to have lunch but Covid has changed all of that.
“ We call home and greet our families and friends. We used to get together in smaller parties or just couples on New Year’s Eve and celebrate the same way.
“This year will be different though as we need to observe rules and regulations imposed due to COVID-19. Most probably we will celebrate both holidays as couples in our rooms.”