Milena Sidorova has been selected for the Choreographic Academy 2017 of Het Nationale Ballet, a new laboratory for young talent. Danspubliek interviewed Milena in 2011.
In 2011 upcoming Milena Sidorova created a new work for the Inspiration Project IV at the Mabel Alter Balletschool, run by Mirella Simoncini. Danspubliek asked the young dancer about her ambitions as a choreographer.
About Milena Sidorova
Currently dancing with the Dutch National Ballet, Milena was trained at the Kiev Ballet School and the Royal Ballet School in London. The Dutch National Ballet is committed to the annual choreographic workshop New Moves in order to actively nurture emerging choreographic talent. Milena has been creating pieces for New Moves every year since 2007. Danspubliek wanted to meet the young choreographer in order to find out more about her ambitions.
How did you get involved with the Inspiration Project IV?
‘About half a year ago Mirella Simoncini contacted me. She had seen work on YouTube that I created before and she liked it. As soon as I knew more about the project I decided to do it. I was allowed by the Dutch National Ballet to create a piece at the Mabel Alter Ballet School and I went there mainly in the weekends to create the ballet. It was hard work during one and a half month but I really liked it and time flew by. It didn’t feel like work and I had to force myself to stop and give the dancers a break every now and then.’
Did you create material beforehand or right at the studio in The Hague?
‘I had a visual idea, but I was able to see the abilities of the dancers on the spot and so influence the process. We had an audition for this project, which was a new experience to me, and I was able to choose the dancers. But it is one thing to see the girls in class and next have them in a studio for a choreography doing completely different things. I am really glad the management at Dutch National Ballet gives me the opportunity to create on a regular basis. I have done this at New Moves each year since I came to the company here. Some people say I am really young to have my own choreographic language, but I have been doing this for a while so to me it’s not strange.’
You were about twenty years old when you made your first choreography?
‘I was actually about 12 or 13 when I made my first choreography.’
Can you tell us how you started dance?
‘To be honest, I don’t remember myself not being in dance. I started when I was 3 years old. I do have flashbacks of being on stage about that time in Kiev, Ukraine. When I was 7 years old, I went to the ballet academy and at the age of 9 I joined the Kiev Choreographic Institute – but choreographic is just a name and means the State Ballet School.
When I was 12 or 13, I started to do ballet competitions. Choreography was a requirement and in a way it was a neccesity to have something original, so I made my own solo’s. The first one was a spider: I used to be obsessed with spiders as a child. The movement material was succesful and I have been using it up until the Prix de Lausanne and the Moscow International Competition. With a scholarship that I won in 2002 at the Prix de Lausanne I went to the Royal Ballet School. After that I got my first contract here at the Dutch National Ballet, about six years ago.’
Why did you choose the Royal Ballet School?
‘Mainly because one of my teachers gave me a very positive advice about it. And also because Gailene Stock, the director of the Royal Ballet School, came up to me at the end of Prix de Lausanne and said she would be really happy if I came to study at the Royal Ballet School. When I went there it was quite difficult because I didn’t speak any English and I had to take some private lessons. It was a wonderful time though: I was dancing the lead in Raymonda when the Royal Ballet School went on tour to New York and Japan before graduating from the Upper School with honours. I also had choreographic opportunities there, I could work with students of the school and actually won a Choreographic Development Award from the school.’
(read more below the video)
How has the Royal Ballet School influenced you?
‘I liked the fact that the dancing was more intensive at the Royal Ballet School than in Kiev: more lessons, more rehearsals, it was more intense balletwise. In the beginning I was a little bit rebellious! Coming from a Russian style they really had to calm me down in a way. In England they like very precise arms and positions. Certain things had to be at only 90 degrees height and in Russian Vaganova-style the amplitude is just bigger.’
So, are you as a choreographer now also precise?
(Laughs) ‘I believe I have the best of both worlds. I use more of a fusion style. When I work with dancers I think I am easy going. I like to have fun in the process. I think that is also why my pieces come out as being fun.’
How would you like people to see Milena Sidorova as a dancer?
‘I would hope as being expressive. My aim is to let the audience feel what the choreographer wants them to feel. To have them get really into the ballet and experience an emotion that ties them to the ballet.’
Would you say that dancers are mere instruments and they should do what the choreographer wants?
‘In a way, yes, but they can also bring their own style into it.’
Who is Milena Sidorova as a person?
‘Obviously dance is a big part of my life. Sometimes I get very expressive and I will paint. Other times I have dreams in which I see a ballet and I just have to put it on stage or set it in the studio. I almost feel I don’t create it because it was already just there. My mom is also very expressive, she studied theatre and taught me some tricks of the trade…’
With some ballets you may find large sections of text explaining what the ballet is about. There aren’t any with your work?
‘I hope that the audience will understand my work without any textual explanation in the program. And that my idea and the story will unfold itself and everyone has the freedom to interpret what is going on. The ballet Subvocal for instance is about a mood, a thought or expression of one person that can go in one direction or another.’
You use classical ballet technique strongly in your work. How do you see the role of classical ballet in today’s dance world?
‘I believe it is a great tool to tell a story and to bring an audience into some magical world.’
What is your future ambition as a choreographer?
‘To make the audience see what I see. For now I can be a dancer and choreograph a little at the same time and I would like to do more projects such as the Inspiration Project. Of course I would love to start making bigger works. The more I do, the more I can let the ideas out that are in my head. That makes me happy: I feel alive.’