|Dmitry Zagrebin as Basilio in D.Q. Pas de Deux for Ibstage|
Photo: Josep Guindo
During our last trip to Sweden, we had the chance to meet Dmitry Zagrebin, principal dancer of the Royal Swedish Ballet. It was a sunny Sunday in Stockholm when reaching the end of the Summer. It was Dmitry day off so we decided to meet in one of these nice coffees in Sodermalm, not far from the SoFo where he lives.
Dmitry was born in Moscow and has been involved in the dance world since he was a child. An important reason for that is the fact that his parents and grandparents were professional dancers at Bolshoi Ballet, he studied at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, where he combined his dance studies with teacher studies of Master of ballet.
|Dmitry with Rebecca Storani in D.Q.|
Ibstage. Photo: Sila Avvakum
After he graduated, he joined the Bolshoi Ballet at the age of 18 and he had the change to work with Alexei Ratmansky, who was leading the company at that time. In 2015 he moved to Sweden to join the Royal Swedish Ballet, where he is currently principal dancer. When we met he was performing Marcia Haydee’s Sleeping Beauty in the Kungliga Operan, in the role of Prince Desiree.
Sylvia Julià: After your experience in Russia and Sweden, which differences de you see between the two countries regarding how they live the Ballet?
Dmitry Zagrevin: Booth theaters are very old so when you get to dance on stage you feel similar atmosphere, that kind of amazing spirit you never get in concert halls.
S.J.: Which is your routine as a dancer in Stockholm with the Swedish Ballet?
D.Z.: Starting from mid August, the schedule is quite tight, specially this season. From next week we will already start rehearsing a Triple Bill with works from Jiří Kylián, Angelin Preljocaj and Lukáš Timulak, while we are performing Sleeping Beauty, and in few weeks we will start rehearsing the Nutcracker.
Two years ago the company used to tour, but not any more, currently all performances take place in Stockholm Opera house, but when I have free time and permission from work I’m always open to go somewhere else to join interesting projects, on my own.
|Dmitry in Ibstage with D.Q. |
Photo: Sila Avvakum
S.J.: During your life you have won several awards, the last one in 2014 and it was the Gold Medal at International Baltic Ballet Competition in Riga. What these achievements have represented in your professional career?
D.Z.: It’s always an opportunity to challenge yourself technically, physically and artistically, but it’s also very good to meet other colleagues from other territories and see how they dance and how they move, to make connections and meet friends. Even if it’s a competitive environment it is in a good way and I mainly do it for fun.
S.J.: In your repertory we can find leading roles in very important classical productions but you have also performed Jiri Kylian, Ratmansky and also Bournonville repertory. Which would be your favorite one or the most special one for you?
D.Z.: With Bolshoi Ballet I had the chance to dance Mercutio in Yuri Grigorovich version of Romeo & Juliet and it was an amazing experience to participate in this production and to share studio with Yuri Grigorovich. In Moscow I also danced Jiri Kylian’s Symphony of Psalms and Ratmansky’s Russian Season, this last one in my second season with Bolshoi. Most leading roles I performed when I arrived to Sweden : Swan Lake, Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, Alice in Wonderland, and I will perform Jiri Kylian Wings of wax in November.
Here in Sweden, about a year ago, I also performed one of the leading roles in Bournonville’s Ponte Molle, renovated by Dinna Bjørn and Frank Andersen. That was an amazing experience but also quite challenging because I had to add some steps to the Bournonville’s piece, just because there were no steps in the original scrip. Frank and Dinna gave me instructions about how it should look like, how it should start and where were the important places of the choreography, for example, they told me this movement has to end up in a knee and I had two eights in the middle to fill with my own steps. This was a responsibility and a personal contribution to the Bournonville piece.
|Dmitry and Rebecca in D.Q, for Ibstage|
Photo: Josep Guindo
S.J.: How do you prepare a role? Especially those that have quite a lot of acting.
D.Z.: It really depends which role it is, in my opinion quite often acting roles in the classical ballet are over-rated, because you have a limited amount of music and you have a choreography steps that has to be precisely danced, let's say you have two eights in the music to show that "I will go there" or "I love you" or "I'm leaving" and it has to be exactly in the music, every single gesture, and it will be enough, all the audience will recognize it, they will understand the movements. Of course you need to know choreography, to be physically well prepared and you need to know the ballet you are doing, but sometimes when you think too much, when you over-rate your acting, you can lose the focus on the precision of the movements and music.
You can take inspiration from other dancers but never copy. In my experience, it won't come up from the first performance, from your premier. I did Sleeping Beauty premier last season and I repeat it now and in main scenes and in certain movements I feel much calmer, I feel that it's much easier for me to do it, it all calm down.
|Dmitry Zagrebin in D,Q. for Ibstage|
Photo: Sila Avvakum
S.J.: You are performing Prince Desirée in Marcia Haydee’s version of Sleeping Beauty with the Swedish Ballet, how was your experience working with her? Marcia is very interested in the acting side of the ballet dancers, what do you think?
D.Z.: It was an amazing experience to dance with Marcia, I adore her, she is gorgeous. When I was rehearsing Price Desirée she told me "you don't need to do this particular step, you can change it and do it how you feel it, but you have to look beautiful". Regarding the acting part in this ballet, of course in any company many dancers can step in and do 32 fouettés, but to be a true principal dancer it's more than that, so I totally agree with Marcia, but all this technical staff has to be there as well.
S.J.: As a dancer, you dedicate most of your time to dancing, training, rehearsing, travelling, ... but what other things you like to do when you have some free time?
D.Z.: Movies, reading,... but no physical exercise. You need to be smart to not to hurt yourself and be in shape. You need to work with your brain all the time and learn from experience, and sometimes don't go for everything and maybe don't over-rate your acting on stage (he smiles).
S.J.: Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Do you see yourself linked to dance all your life?
D.Z.: I have a diploma as a Ballet Master, so I could teach in a company. Taking my mother advice, I divided my time between the work at Bolshoi Theater and my graduation as a teacher at Bolshoi Academy. But now I can't say what I will do in the future, only that I will share my dance as long as I can. When I was 12 I played the role of little Mozart , a leading role in the opera production Bastien und Bastienne from Mozart, where I had to dance and I had to talk. I enjoyed a lot and felt very comfortable, so if I have any kind of opportunity related with acting I will definitely go for it, even movies, no idea, but I could do it.
|Dmitry and Rebecca in D.Q. for Ibstage Gala at Gran Teatre del Liceu.|
Photo: Josep Guindo
S.J.: We had the chance to see you dancing with Rebecca Storani in the IBStage Gala in Barcelona some weeks ago and I have to say that it was amazing. How was your experience of dancing with her?
D.Z.: It was one of the best partnership experiences in my life, she is a extremely professional ballerina, very good on eye-contact on stage, when you just trust each other, you know. I have danced Don Q. many times in my life and I felt very comfortable dancing with Rebecca, she was very focused and everything went just amazing. I have to say I was shocked in a very good way. We met the same day in the morning and we went on stage after 10 minutes of checking out. She is amazing and I would love to dance with her again.
S.J.: We are working to promote ballet in Catalonia and to have artists like you performing there it will help to achieve our goals for sure, so we hope we can see you dancing again in Barcelona or maybe performing with Ballet de Catalunya in Terrassa.
D.Z.: You have such a beautiful theater in Barcelona and it would be great to see more ballet performances there. Theater is huge and the atmosphere on stage was amazing. I really wish that ballet art can grow in Barcelona, so if I can give any help I would like to do it.