Q: Anastasia tell us a little bit about your background
A: I was raised in a family who was not involved in the arts. My family moved to Canada when I was only 4 years old. Growing up I was quite a weak child, because of my spine problems doctors insisted on me wearing a back brace that would hold my back in the appropriate position. But instead of this my wise parents decided to take me to a ballet school and that is how I became part of the wonderful environment of Victoria Ballet Academy. After about four years of intense practice with my teacher Victoria Mironova I went back to the doctors and they admitted that starting ballet was the smartest decision my parents could have made for me. My back problems had disappeared and I grew stronger physically and mentally. The most important thing though is that I fell in love with this art; ballet became my passion and ultimately my profession.
Q: Who influenced you to become a ballerina?
A: My teacher Victoria Mironova. I grew up at her school. It is thanks to her that the doors of this art form opened to me. She has been by my side since I was a child, she has watched me grow into the person I am today. When Victoria and her husband Vladimir opened the professional school Victoria Ballet Academy I auditioned and was accepted. Eight years later I graduated with an Ontario High School Diploma and also with a diploma as a Ballet Artist.
Q: Besides the fact that the school gave you an education and a ballet career what else will you remember about it?
A: The atmosphere in the school has always been warm and welcoming. As beginner students we always felt supported by our teachers and of course by the directors Victoria and Vladimir. The teachers did not just teach us, they cared about us and our professional future. Now every time I’m back in Toronto I hurry back to my school, I know that I am welcome here and everyone is always happy to see me. I love coming home to take class with Mrs. Victoria, she knows me inside out, and she can spot every one of my mistakes and strong points from miles away. This year the school has been renamed as Victoria International Ballet Academy. Because of the professional level of the school it’s no wonder that students are flying in from around the world. This summer I met some new students from Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, USA, Germany, Colombia, Costa Rica and more. In my opinion this is the only professional ballet school that also gives you a general education at a high level. When I was in school my favorite subjects were English Lit., French language and Mathematics. Every morning I went to school knowing that I was one step closer to reaching my goals in ballet and in school. I enjoyed my time in school, and I’m sure not everyone can say the same. Because of the high level of education given in this school when graduating I got into university just like all my classmates (class of 2011) but furthermore I got an incredible scholarship. Universities love students with interesting backgrounds and who come from prestigious schools with a well rounded education. By my graduating year I had a professional repertoire in my portfolio, I already had danced many leading parts from well known ballets such as Sleeping Beauty, Chopiniana, The Nutcracker, Cinderella, and Le Corsair. It was then that I had to make a choice and decided to follow my dreams and continue on my path to become a ballerina. After graduation I was a trainee at the Boston Ballet. After which Victoria recommended I audition at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg Russia. I was accepted, it was such an accomplishment and I felt so proud of myself knowing how hard it is to get accepted into the Academy. I was chosen from hundreds to take part in the performances at the Mariinsky theatre with the school. I was so excited to be at the legendary Vaganova ballet academy, I knew that my favorite teachers Mrs. Victoria and Mrs. Elena had also graduated from this very school. I would often catch myself thinking that my most loved teachers and so many ballet legends had walked in those very same hallways. I know that after Victoria and Elena graduated from the Vaganova Ballet Academy they danced over 20 years at the Mikhalovsky Opera and Ballet Theatre, after which they returned to the Academy to obtain a professional degree in Classical Ballet Pedagogy. In our profession they have the highest credentials as teachers and dancers. I am certain that Victoria and Elena proudly represent the St. Petersburg classical ballet school. I will always be grateful to them for giving me my career. This year I signed a contract with an American classical ballet company.
Q: Tell us about your friends, who they are, what do they like doing, and about their future ambitions
A: I am only 18 and I have already traveled half the world and back. I have competed in China, and Ukraine where I won first place in an international competition, I have also been to Russia, and the USA. Traveling so much gave me the opportunity to make many new friends in every corner of the world, which is wonderful, but still my best friends, are those from Victoria International Ballet Academy, we grew up together. We’ve been best friends for over 10 years and now they are some of the closest people I have in my life. Elizaveta Mironova became a ballerina; she also trained at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg after graduation, and at the National Ballet School in Ukraine. Liza is a very talented ballerina, with amazing technique and a breathtaking jump making virtually any ballet look easy. This year she has been invited to join The State Russian Ballet Theatre in Moscow, Russia. I am so happy for her, I’m proud of her and her accomplishments for which she’s worked so hard. Keren Barak got accepted into university as soon as she finished school too, she’s majoring in Devise Theatre, her dream is to become an actress. She is talented so I can see that being her future. Now that summer is over we are yet again saying our goodbyes and preparing for a new journey. I am leaving to America, Liza to Russia and Keren will stay here to finish university. In December we will once again all be home together. Victoria invited Liza and me to dance in The Nutcracker at the Richmond Hill Center for the Performing Arts on the 20th -22nd of December. We each take turns dancing the leading role of Maria/Claire with Mariinsky soloist Anton Korsakov. After the holidays we will go back to our hard work abroad. My contract finishes in March when I will return to Toronto and dance the premier of Cinderella in Victoria Mironova’s production at the Living Arts Center in Mississauga. This ballet will represent the official opening of Victoria Ballet Company.
Q: In your point of view, what is happening in the world of ballet today?
A: I think that everything is going well. The rumors about there being a crisis in ballet are really overly exaggerated. I saw in St. Petersburg that it is close to impossible to get tickets to attend a ballet performance. People love and appreciate this art form and want to see great performances. Of course there is competition, there always has been and always will be. It is incredibly hard to get into a good ballet company or theatre; you have to really dedicate your whole life to this profession to succeed not to mention that you must work 110 percent every day. For me this is natural and I’ve already grown used to giving my all to this career, I was taught this in school, that hard work, self discipline and a positive attitude will get me far. I love the life I lead, I appreciate the life I’m living, and I will forever be grateful to my teachers because now I can proudly say “I am a ballerina”.