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Bolshoi's soloist Anastasia Meskova talks about ballet heroes, her studies and favorite food recipes

In your first interview you stated that you don’t like waking up to go to school every morning. That’s what you said at the age of 12, when you were already famous because of your role in the film ‘The Little Princess’. Are you still not a morning person?

Yes, I love to sleep and the most difficult months for me are November and December, which are cold and have a little daylight. When I recently was off work with a broken hand, I was able to catch up with my sleep!

How did that happen?

It was a ridiculous accident during rehearsal when I was getting up from the floor. It was my right hand, so I couldn’t do anything. I was overdoing the past few months; there was a lot of work in Bolshoy, including ‘Moydodir’, where I had one of the leading roles. So that was an unexpected but much needed break. As a result, I missed two months of work, which is a long time in the ballet world, but I practiced with my legs so as not to loose shape. However, it’s always worth remembering that it is very important to let traumas heal, otherwise they may come back in many years’ time. So I really hope to be in the premier of Mats Ek’s ballet ‘Apartment’.

Was it your first injury?

No, at the age of 27 I have a bouquet of ‘professional’ health problems, which I acquired due to my own stupidity. Sometimes when I needed to take a break, I got carried away with a role that seemed extremely important at the time. And later when I end up suffering from pain in the leg – I understand that nothing was worth it.

Your colleague Nikolay Tsiskaridze said that an injury made him reconsider many things in life.

Yes, he had a horrible knee injury, but that didn’t destroy his very successful ballet career. I am petrified of serious mobility problems. When I was 16, I ended up in the hospital because my hip joints were deteriorating and the doctors’ prognosis was I would struggle to walk, not to mention dance. That was like a death sentence for me, as ballet was all I lived for. This is what I was like in the beginning of my career. Now I understand the importance of harmony in life and have inspiration outside the world of dance.

What are they?

My alternative route is cinema. I was in a few films and have been told I did very well. Also, I now have a family and my son, so only part of me remains a ballerina, the other is mother and wife.

Would you wish for your son to become a dancer?

I don’t think it is a good profession for men. Only a few out of thousands male dancers manage to succeed, whereas females are always in demand to work as a backdrop. It is hard work being a lead dancer, but the alternatives are very menial and boring. I don’t see much artistic qualities in my son. Why should I push him into something he doesn’t want to be just to watch him fail? He likes ballet and has attended many performances, but he has never expressed a desire to join one of the dancing schools. He much prefers drawing, playing chess and football. Ballet is a tough world and not everyone is meant to be a part of it.

Are you meant to be a ballet dancer?

Yes, I had potential, naturally being artistic with good music sense, something that you can’t learn. However, I don’t think that my body was made for dancing, unlike some of my colleagues. It took me a lot of training and tears to surpass my body’s defense and after 20 years of struggle, it has got only tougher and tougher. Aging takes its toll.

What is currently happening in your film career?

I have had a lot of propositions in the past year, which isn’t bad, considering that I am not a professional actress and don’t have an agent.

Why don’t you have an agent?

Just laziness. Of course I need one, as the film industry is very competitive. I enjoy filming. My recent role in the TV series ‘Freud’s Method’ got good reviews. I receive many offers, but most of them are not what I want, as playing the role of a ballerina doesn’t interest me at all.

How does the Bolshoy management react to filming activities?

They don’t mind, especially as I always prioritise the theatre, so never let them down. However, if I am offered a really big and serious role, I perhaps would have to leave Bolshoy for some time to pursue this opportunity. I hope they would understand.

Have you considered playing drama in the theatre?

Not yet, but this area looks very attractive to me. At the Bolshoy, I always craved roles that could show off my drama talent. Contemporary dance art shares a lot with drama as it conveys the play by means of body motions. This is why when I was performing Juliet in Donnelan’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’, I was telling her story screaming and crying, thinking more of the emotional side, rather than the pure technique of classical ballet.

Ballet has always looked like something mysterious in the eyes of the general public. What goes on in the lives of dancers offstage?

Performers have a hectic life, but nevertheless, if I can plan something – I do it. I have always dreamed of a safe home and family. I am currently renting, but hope that one day I will have my own home. I have a young son, who just started school. I am currently studying for a degree in arts. I am a very domesticated person. When I was a kid, all my efforts were concentrated on ballet, so my parents didn’t really care about teaching me house-keeping. Now I am trying to compensate for it and I am absolutely obsessed with cooking! It has become a big hobby for me. I collect recipes, invent and experiment in the kitchen. I cook Russian and oriental dishes; in my collection are my signature recipes of chicken, pasta and various salads. When my colleagues come to visit, they enjoy my cooking a lot and pay me numerous compliments. For New Year, instead of exchanging traditional souvenirs, I made six types of different cookies and everybody was very happy.

1> Anastasia’s film career started in her childhood with a satirical TV mini-series. One of her recent and most memorable roles was that of a broker who seduces the main character in the TV series ‘Freud’s Method’

2 > Anastasia in the role of the street dancer in the ballet ‘Don Quixote’. This production received particular attention in the theatre, as it was here, in the Bolshoi, where it was first performed in 1869 by the famous choreographer Marius Petipa. Since then, the staging has underwent numerous transformations, yet having the successful experience for the audience unchanged.

 

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