Le interviste, Le vite degli altri

Yana Cherepanova: 12 years old, talent and ballet

di Andrea Russo

Yana at 4

I saw  Yana Cherepanova photos on Gene Schiavone Facebook page few years ago, a well-known dance photographer. That picture was not taken by Gene. I saw in the middle a tiny dancer, with her composure, stood out from the other  girls.  Later on a crowd founding site, Olga Cherepanova asked support  for her daughter Yana. Her talented girl was ready for Vaganova ballet Academy in St. Petersburg.

Now here’s my first question:

“Did that post help you? Was the popularity on Gene’s page important?”

Yes, that helped us. Actually we were able to come to SPb only because of that. We are endlessly and sincerely grateful to all the people who helped us back then. But mainly to Natalia Osipova and   Sergei Danilian. For a child whose only dream and passion was to become a ballet dancer getting attention and help from the ballet celebrities whom she idolized her whole life was a true miracle. She just couldn’t believe that all that was happening to her.

“Don’t you think it’s a bit early to address Yana on a so complicated road ?”

I don’t think that it’s early. Children get accepted to the VBA from the age of 10. So I think this is a perfect age to start serious ballet education.  I 100% trust one of the best ballet schools in the world on that!

“Is there too much pressure for a child?”

I can’t speak about other children. As for Yana the only pressure she experiences right now studying at the VBA is that she is much shorter than all the other girls in her class and she is always told that she needs to grow and get taller . It makes her nervous and desperate because the process of “getting taller” is not a thing that can be controlled by her or me. She is a year younger than the other girls in her class….So we just wait nervously.

“How is that environment?”

I try to stay out of this “environment”. Some ballet moms have a strong belief that their children don’t succeed because other children in their class do,and it is not only here. I am very sure that things are the same in any ballet school around the world.I prefer to focus on MY kid. I am a demanding mother when it comes to ballet. If she doesn’t do well in class she is the only one who is blamed for that. Not her teacher,not other kids,not circumstances. If she failed,  this is because she didn’t work hard enough. This is the only belief in our family. The environment among the ballet parents is not something I enjoy experiencing very much to be honest.

“How did you discover her talent? Do you have any anecdotes?”

How did I discover her talent?  I don’t have a beautiful fairy tale story about discovering her talent.  I brought her to the casting to a ballet school randomly. Just noticed the ad somewhere and decided “why not”?  She was barely 4 years old.  She passed the casting to our local children ballet theatre and started her ballet classes.  But from the very beginning she was very different from all the other kids there… Very  attentive and through about her technique and VERY serious about ballet in general. It was even funny to see such a baby being that serious about her ballet classes. So this is when all this ballet craziness has started.

“Was it a the desire of you both?”

Like I said, originally it was no one’s desire. It was just a random decision… But if she ever becomes a ballet star, this decision maybe considered as something crucial.

“As your personal taste, would you have preferred a different thing for her?”

No. Her body is done for ballet and she has enough strength for that. So I am pretty much happy with her occupation.

” How would you react ,If she would change mind about ballet?”

Such decisions never happen out of nowhere! She can’t just change her mind all of a sudden. Ballet is not just her or my whim! She puts so much of herself and of her hard work in it! How can she change her mind? At this very moment I just can’t imagine that.

“Are you afraid that Yana  growing up , she could be obsessed with physical perfection that ballet requires?”

No, I am not afraid. This is a part of being a ballerina. All ballet dancers are kind of obsessed with their physical perfection. But how can they not be? They always need to be in a perfect physical shape, control their weight, strength and health. Because their bodies are basically their instruments.

“What’s your best memory about Yana and her passion?

My best memory is her dancing Masha in the Nutcracker at the Mariinsky last year. Maybe it is too trivial for the best memory but it was a true Christmas magic! Her biggest dream came true. I think for all ballet girls who ever had a chance to dance Masha and for their parents as well those moments are very special!

“What do you want for her future?”

I may answer that I want her to work very hard and to be a good girl and to become a ballerina. But if you want a honest answer, I want her to be a super star and be wanted by all the ballet theatres in the world! All ballet parents see their kids like that in their future! Trust me!

Yana today, 12 years old. Ph: Olga Cherepanova

To  yana:

“Which dancer who inspires you the most?”

I can’t choose just one dancer. I love several great ballerinas for different reasons. Each one of them is unique in her own way.  Natalia Osipova, Svetlana Zakharova, Silvie Gillem, Ekaterina Maximova – they all are the best! and the VBA graduate from last year Alena Kovaleva! I think she is awesome!

“Which is your favorite ballet?”

It’s Giselle without any doubt! I can watch it forever!

“Would you like to be a dance teacher?”

Of course! I want to teach 3-4-5 grades. Like my current ballet teacher Tatyana Solomyanko. But only when I finish my ballet career of course!

“What do you think about ballet and about being a ballerina?”

I don’t know what I think. I love ballet because it’s my life since I am 4!  And I want to be a ballerina. Yes it is a hard work, but it’s worth the emotions you get when you perform on stage.

“Are you happy?”

Most of the time yes!

Here the italian version.



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