Ekaterina Kondaurova

Fresh-faced and smiling, her short red hair framing bright blue eyes and a porcelain complexion, Ekaterina Kondaurova arrives promptly for our meeting at the Shamrock restaurant/bar on Ulitsa Dekabristov. It’s 9:30 p.m. on a Friday night, and she apologizes unnecessarily for being late. But Kondaurova has not just come from a performance. Rather, her twelve-hour rehearsal day finished just 15 minutes ago.

At 22, the tall, lithe dancer has already been in the company for four years. Just a year ago she was promoted to Coryphée from the corps de ballet. But she’s already dancing several soloist roles that aren’t shared in the repertoire lists of fellow coryphées: the Lilac Fairy in “The Sleeping Beauty” (both the Sergeev and the reconstructed versions), Medora from “Le Corsaire”, Myrtha from “Giselle”, the grand pas de deux from the second act of “La Bayadere”, the Siren in “Apollo”. More uniquely, Kondaurova’s resume includes modern ballets. She seems to have been dubbed the master of all things modern by someone in the Maryinsky administration. She dances in Forsythe’s works (“In the Middle, Somewhat Elevated”), in Petersburg choreographer Kirill Simyonov’s avant-garde “The Nutcracker” and the title role in his “Princess Pirlipat”. Most recently she has been rehearsing the leading role in the third of the “Nut” ballet trilogy, “The Magic Nut”, choreographed by Bulgarian-born Donvena Pandurski, which replaces the badly-received “Pirlipat” in the company repertoire.

We find a table in a quieter corner of the restaurant and start to chat. I’m intrigued that from within the ranks of a company that boasts over 200 dancers, Kondaurova has already achieved so much, but she seems nonchalant about it.

“There’s a defined repertoire for each level within the company,” she explains, “and if you dance those roles well, and more than once, you’re in a good position to receive a promotion.” However, such promotions are not guaranteed. In order for a dancer to move up, someone else somewhere in the company must leave or go on their pension. Each year new Vaganova graduates compete for places in the company. When Kondaurova graduated, 11 people were taken in, but that number varies each year.

Kondaurova began her balletic journey in Moscow, where she was born. She attended a small school of music and dance, and then tried to enter the Moscow State Choreographic Institute. They refused her, and recommended she cease her pursuit of ballet. Determined, she enrolled in Leonid Lavrovsky’s school, studying under Lyudmila Sorokina, and was there advised to try the Vaganova Academy. At the age of 12, later than most, she moved to Leningrad, entered the Academy and remained until graduation.

“Once I began studying at the Vaganova Academy, I always hoped I would be able to join this company,” she says. “I never planned to leave St. Petersburg, I love it here, and essentially grew up here.” ...

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