Cupcakes & Conversation with Natalia Kremen, Artist, English National Ballet

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Cupcakes & Conversation with Natalia Kremen, Artist, English National Ballet 

dancer headshot

Natalia Kremen Photograph : Thomas Edur

You can see Natalia performing Suite en Blanc as part of Black & White with English National Ballet at the London Coliseum from 16 – 19 March.  Tickets £10 – £50. The performance dates are : Wednesday 16 March at 7.30pm, Thursday 17 March at 7.30pm, Friday 18 March at 7.30pm, Saturday 19 March at 2.30pm and 7.30pm.  Casting details will follow shortly.

What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning? 

For me the morning is the hardest part of the day. I can stay awake late into the night, but to get up early is always very difficult. So I can’t really say what motivates me at 8am (because I’m still in bed at this time!). But the best motivation is my husband making me breakfast! 

Why ballet? 

My father was a ballet dancer. So, from the age of 3 I was going to different theatres. But he never wanted me to follow his footsteps; because he went through all the difficulties of a dancer’s life and he didn’t want me to know about aching pain in muscles, tears, toe blisters, competitions between classmates, injustice, injuries, jitters and all the rest. But one day our friend told us about a big audition taking place at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy (100 kids for one place). My parents decided to try and I was lucky to be chosen. 

dancer in arabesque in Giselle

Photograph : David Makhateli

What are you looking forward to dancing in 2011? 

At the moment I’m rehearsing a programme called Black and White, which will take a place at the London Coliseum in March. One of the pieces will be Suite en Blanc by Serge Lifar which is very interesting and challenging. It looks very simple but it’s hard to keep the right style through all the steps. In July we are dancing three pieces choreographed by ballet legend, Roland Petit. There are few companies that do his work and in my opinion we at ENB are very fortunate to have his repertory. I am looking forward to work with him. Last but not least I hope to get another chance to dance this year with my husband, David Makhateli (Principal dancer at The Royal Ballet

Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance? 

As I just said I love to dance with David. First of all he is a great dancer and we know and feel each other so well. We can express all emotions and not be shy (for example as Romeo and Juliet). Besides he is a really good and caring partner. I am 100% safe in his hands. My favourite work to dance with him would be Manon. 

dancer on stage in Romeo & Juliet

Photograph : Daria Klimentová

If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance? 

There are many beautiful and famous theatres and places; but there is one stage which really impressed me and that is the Herod Atticus Odeon Amphitheatre in Athens, Greece. Last autumn, David organised a big Gala Tribute to Rudolf Nureyev at the Herod Atticus Odeon. We danced the pas de deux from Raymonda and from the first steps I felt something special. During our pas de deux we could see the beautiful Parthenon on top of the mountain. It feels like you receive an enormous amount of energy, calmness and inspiration. It’s a magical place. I would love to dance there again. 

How do you prepare your pointe shoes? 

I sew them in my own way. I prefer to rehearse in pointe shoes without ribbons, only with wide elastic and I put ribbons on just for the show. My teachers told me that your feet should speak when you dance. 

What is your daily routine at the moment? 

Early mornings are hard! It feels like I’m glued to my pillow because it’s so hard to wake up; then, breakfast (I can’t miss it!); ballet class (which wakes me up nicely); rehearsals of Suite en Blanc (which always inspire me); lunch (which is quite full because usually I don’t have dinner); some more rehearsals and then back home (or theatres, friends, exhibitions). 

You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite

I would choose members of my family because I miss my parents so much and even when I am home in Moscow I never have enough time to spend with them. They are a very important part of my life. 

What would surprise people about you? 

I love horse riding. It gives me so much emotional energy, happiness and power. I hope one day that I’ll have my own horse. And I love cooking. 

Natalia poses in black dress  

Who inspired you to dance? 

My father at first, and my mother especially in helping and supporting me in difficult times; then my great teachers – N.Grinberg, G.Krapivina and prima ballerina of Bolshoi Theater, N.Sorokina, and later dancers like Sylvie Guillem, Bernice Coppieters and Alessandra Ferri. 

What is your best piece of advice? 

Ballet is not a sport. It’s not just about high legs, big jumps and a hundred pirouettes. You should have charisma and dance with your soul. 

How do you prepare in the hours before a show? 

I am not doing anything special. Just trying to rest during the day (if I have time for it). Do my own makeup and hair, warming up and always trying to stay calm. 

Which role has tested you the most & how? 

I would say Giselle. You have to control each centimetre of your body; be strong inside so it looks effortless, light and weightless for the audience. 

two dancers rehearsing Giselle

Natalia & David rehearsing Giselle Photograph : Oleg Micheev

If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create? 

I would ask a professional designer to do it. It’s not my profession! 

What do you look for in a dance partner? 

First of all he has to know how to partner, be attentive, passionate and inspiring. 

What is your favorite quote? 

The artist is nothing without the gift, but the gift is nothing without work’. EMILE ZOLA 

two dancers on stage in golden tutus

Raymonda (with David Makhateli) Photograph : John Kanellopoulos

Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you? 

In every step there is a little bit of my signature (joke). I love big jumps like Grande Jeté En Avant and Entrechats. 

A phrase I use far too often is … ? 

“I have to!” 

What’s been your best on-stage moment so far? 

Nothing can ever compare with your very first appearance on stage. It was in school. 

Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about? 

I don’t share my secrets. 

dancer in arabseque

Photograph : Daria Klimentová

In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now? 

I don’t like to plan so far ahead. Time will show. 

If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you? 

It would be great to perform in front of all my teachers, family members and friends so they can see that their work, help and support didn’t go to waste.

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