You have seen Moscow Ballet’s beautiful and award-winning ballerinas perform as Masha in the Great Russian Nutcracker, as Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty and as Odette/Odile in Swan Lake to name the top three beloved ballets. But how much do you know about their life that is not on the stage? Get to know Sasha, Karyna and Natalia a little better…
Alexandra Elagina, affectionately called Sasha by friends and family, made her North American debut as “Masha” on the 2010 Moscow Ballet tour. She was noted as “brimful with feeling,” by Alastair MacCaulay, NYTimes Chief Dance Critic, and she “exuded the essence of delicacy,” per Charleston Today.
New York Times former Chief Dance Critic Alastair Macaulay calls the Russian ballet style “elegant, expansive.” He goes on to elaborate about Alexandra as Masha…”In her first pas de deux Masha (Alexandra Elagina) finds world enough and time to raise one leg slowly behind her until it’s the height of her shoulder. This slow ascent of one leg, while the music swells, seems brimful with feeling.”
Jump 10 years later to Little Rock’s Arkansas Democrat Gazette Dance Critic Erie E. Harrison writes, “Alexandra Elagina did a delightful job of "growing" the central young girl Masha” and “Elagina also excellently covered the Waltz of the Snow Forest pas de deux and…the Sugar Plum Fairy whose solo Elagina delicately aced.”
Alexandra, who hails from Kazan the 6th largest city in Russia, graduated from the world-famous Kazan Ballet Academy in 2006 in the class of teacher I. Khakimova, the People’s Artist of Tatarstan and Honorable Artist of The Russia Federation. Sasha made her performing debut as the Fairy of Tenderness in Tchaikovsky’s The Sleeping Beauty and short 4 years later she premiered with debuted with Moscow Ballet as Principal Ballerina in the U.S. at West Point Military Academy.
Sasha is interviewed by Gary James, of Famousinterview.com.
Gary asks, “what did you think of America on your first tour here in 2010?” Sasha, “Very beautiful…very beautiful mountains.”
“When did you start dancing?” Sasha, “I started taking ballet lessons 5 to 6 hours per day at ten years old and my childhood was always in theatre, very close to my mom who was a professional ballerina as well.”
“Is it hard to get into a Russian Ballet School?” Sasha, “There is lot of competition to get into state approved ballet schools as everywhere in Russia. There is big competition.” Nine years after starting her ballet studies, at 19 only years old, Sasha performed a leading role – an accomplishment of which she is very proud.
Gary wraps up asking about her future goals. Sasha says, “I hope to dance professionally for ten to twenty years. Everything depends on my health and of course I want to perform for as long as possible!” Alexandra is the wife of a surgeon in Kazakhstan and mother of two young boys.
Karyna Shatkovskaya won numerous awards as a pre-teen ballet student including the Second International Ballet Competition (IBC) in Kharkov at the tender age of 9 as well as the Third International Children and Youth Classical Dance Competition. She’s been dancing with the Moscow Ballet as Masha since 2011. Karyna agrees that the North American touring schedule is difficult, but she loves the tour and seeing many cities across the U.S. and Canada.
Even though Karyna has been performing the lead role of Masha in Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker for years (she debuted as Marie in the Odessa National Opera and Ballet in 2002), she still enjoys it simply because she loves dancing! After warming up in an hour-long class with the company, she likes to get some alone time to calm down and prepare emotionally before each performance. No pictures before the show is her only superstition. (Courtesy 4dancers.org)
Natalia Gubanova was born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, home of the Vaganova ballet school considered the best method in the world! She is a graduate of the world famous Vaganova Ballet Academy, named after Agrippina Vaganova who is the namesake of the Russian Ballet style. Natalia is a Laureate of the 2010 International Ballet Competition in Athens; a recipient of a diploma from the International Ballet Competition of Romania 2010; a prize-winner at the International Ballet Competition in Rieti, Italy in 2007 and 2009, and participant in the 2013 10th International Ballet Competition in Greece.
Natalia attended a ballet seminar at world famous Bolshoi Ballet Academy on "Teaching Methods" and was grateful to have such an opportunity to study at the one of the best schools in the world. Natalia has also participated in special programs for ballerinas at the Royal Ballet School in London and L'école de Danse de l'Opéra National de Paris where she was invited to be guest teacher for Elite Ballet Summer Intensive in Mexico and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.
Natalia shares her ballet passions with the Chicago Tribune, “For me, the traditional choreography is very, very comfortable. It's my best work. For me classical dance is the preferable way to express myself. It's the technical, old-fashioned way to dance. Swan Lake, Gubanova goes on, is a treasure of Russian classics. In every country, on every continent, the audience knows about 'Swan Lake. The public loves this ballet the most’, she said, " because of the beautiful music of Tchaikovsky and because it is a fairy tale love story, which brings people joy and inspiration, and it shows to them the joy of life is true love."
Besides dancing to one of the most beautiful ballets of all time, Gubanova, also looks forward to dancing with her husband, Alexey Gerasimov, on stage nightly. "This is happiness for me to be on stage with my husband," she said. "This is the miracle I live myself."