When Diana Vishneva bowed out as principal dancer of American Ballet Theater last summer after 13 years, she didn’t disappear behind the scenes for good.
The 42-year-old quit the business to focus on other projects – and ended up taking time off from dancing for a few months as she was pregnant with her son, who was born in May. Vishneva has since returned to training, with her return to the stage scheduled for the end of September, when she will dance in the Paris Opera Ballet gala alongside the company’s artistic director, Aurélie Dupont. The duo will perform Ohad Naharin’s modern piece, “Bolero,which they created during the Context Dance Festival in 2016. Vishneva founded the festival in 2013.
“Here we go – the goal has already been set, and by that date you have to be fit and healthy, and you have to appear on stage,” says Vishneva, who recently returned to training at Steps on Broadway. with Nancy Bielsky. The performance will have a notable tweak since its premiere two years ago: Chanel is a sponsor for the gala performance and Karl Lagerfeld is designing the costumes for the play.
“The costume design has already been done, so [Lagerfeld] just going to add something or come up with some ideas,” she adds; she hasn’t seen the design yet. “I don’t know yet – maybe he’ll completely change all that.”
While Vishneva, trained at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, will continue to dance with the Mariinsky Ballet as a principal dancer, her professional focus has been on strengthening contemporary dance in Russia through her Context festival, as well than on creating opportunities for adults to study ballet recreationally. She has also developed a collaborative multimedia dance project, “Sleeping Beauty Dreams,” which will premiere in Miami in December.
“It’s like in ‘The Seagull’ by Anton Chekhov – at some point in your life you start looking for a new form of expression, a new genre,” says Vishneva, sitting in a quiet corner of the discreetly upscale Lowell Hotel. Her hair is pulled back in a neat low bun, and she speaks with an eloquent reflection reflecting the je ne sais quoi she brings to her craft as a dancer. “As a classical ballet dancer, the heritage and tradition of classical ballet is very important to me, but at some point I started to feel like it was like a kind of box, and I I felt it was too tight for me to stay in that space, which is why I started getting interested in modern dance and various genres and forms of dance.
“Sleeping Beauty Dreams” represents a global collaboration through different media. The piece, choreographed by Edward Clug, incorporates 3D imaging technology, including live digital avatar projection, electronic music and art, and explores the inner world of Aurora – a character Vishneva knows well. , having danced classical ballet several times. throughout her career – while she sleeps.
“We’re taking a fairly well-known text from ‘Sleeping Beauty’, but what we’re doing is exploring those blind spots where no one really knows what’s going on, what’s happening when Sleeping Beauty sleeper actually sleeps – what Sleeping Beauty beauty dreams of,” she says. “It’s a black-and-white fairy tale, but in our vision, good and evil are embodied in one person. , and they define the struggle when good and evil are in that very person.”
In a way, it highlights the relatability of the character.
“There are universal themes there, because Sleeping Beauty is associated with beauty, kindness, happiness, but right next to her there is an evil that has punished her” , she says. “So today’s Sleeping Beauty is someone who is going through an inner struggle. When she falls asleep, she’s a person, but when she wakes up, she’s another person — she is a more mature person, someone who has gained a lot of inner experience during this period of sleep, perhaps sleep was given to her to go through all the stages of maturity and wake up and be ready for her prince charming to come to her,” she adds.
In addition to this project, Vishneva is working to expand the Context festival, taking it to new locations around the world, including Tel Aviv, London, and hopefully soon New York. She also continues to expand her Context Pro dance and fitness studio in St. Petersburg, which offers adult classes in ballet, yoga and gymnastics – which, while common in America, are not part of the canon of offerings. extracurriculars in Russia.
“It’s a totally new thing for Russia because, for example, here in the United States, every child – no matter how old – or an adult person, can actually come to a studio and start dancing or doing ballet class,” she says. “But it’s pretty new for Russia. Anyone — who doesn’t need experience or professional training — can just come in and start training. We don’t have anything like that in Russia. That’s why I decided to open the door to him in Russia, to introduce him to Russians.
The concept has been popular so far, although introducing the concept has involved answering doubts about why a non-professional would want to start learning ballet. Vishneva has also started to take small steps into the world of teaching ballet herself, but for now she credits a new teacher in her life as the driving factor in her new career direction. “My baby is teaching me, I would say, time management, being able to move really fast, being able to focus on the task at hand,” she says.
“Throughout your life you are your own center, you are the center of everything that happens around you. So at the very beginning you don’t notice it. Later you don’t like it, then you worry about it. But then you don’t know where to go to avoid it. When my son was born, I would say that I was completely relieved of this feeling of being the center. My center was actually moved — now it’s on my child, because I’ve actually become an observer of myself,” she says. “What will be the outcome both in my life and in my creative life — well, we let’s see.”