Cupcakes & Conversation with Christine Shevchenko, Corps de ballet, American Ballet Theatre
Christine Shevchenko was born in Odessa, Ukraine where she was chosen to train in rhythmic gymnastics and ballet at an Olympic School. At the age of eight, she moved to the United States and spent the next nine years studying at Pennsylvania Ballet’s Rock School. Shevchenko danced the children’s lead in Pennsylvania Ballet’s The Nutcracker for three years, and was featured in the NBC special Degas and the Dance. In 2002 she was invited to perform with International Ballet Theatre Company’s “Stars of Kirov, Bolshoi and Ukrainian Ballet” in Annapolis, Maryland. In 2003, Shevchenko became the youngest recipient of the Princess Grace Award. Other awards include the Bronze Medal in the USA International Ballet Competition in Jackson, Mississippi, 2005 Gold Medal and Title of Laureate at the Moscow International Ballet Competition and the George Zoritch of “Ballet Russe“ Award for Talent Recognition. She danced leading and soloist roles from Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker, Harlequinade, The Flames of Paris, Grand Pas Classique, Le Corsaire, Paquita, La Bayadère, and Balanchine’s Symphony in C. She also performed various contemporary pieces by many choreographers that included Caprice #1 specially choreographed by Benjamin Millepied for a competition.
Shevchenko joined American Ballet Theatre’s Studio Company (now ABT II) in August 2006 where she performed classical and contemporary pieces including the pas de deux from August Bournonville’s Flower Festival at Genzano, Lilac Garden and Continuo by Anthony Tudor, and Eyes that Gently Touch by Kirk Peterson, along with other pieces. She joined American Ballet Theatre as an apprentice in December 2007 and the corps de ballet in June 2008.
Her repertoire with the Company includes a Shade in La Bayadére, Nanine in Lady of the Camellias, a role in Seven Sonatas, Fairy of Joy in The Sleeping Beauty, as well as roles in all of the full-length ballets. She created a role in Everything Doesn’t Happen at Once.
What motivates you at 8am on a Tuesday morning?
The excitement of the beginning of another week rehearsing or performing.
I have loved to dance for as long as I can remember. Ballet is one of the most beautiful forms of dance there is.
What are you looking forward to dancing in the new season?
I’m looking forward to dancing Alexei Ratmansky’s new production The Nutcracker and The Bright Stream. Most recently, dancing in Cuba has been an incredible experience. And next, we are off to Washington, D.C., London, and Moscow in 2011.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?
Vladimir Malakhov in Giselle.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
After sewing the ribbons and elastic, I soften the box by beating them with a hammer. For performances, I stitch the tip of the box.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
Class starts every morning at 10:15am and I come to work earlier to stretch. Then I rehearse throughout the day till 6-7pm
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
Maya Plisetskaya, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Hillary Clinton, Grace Kelly, Audrey Hepburn, Coco Channel.
What would surprise people about you?
That I like to bake and cook.
Who inspired you to dance?
What is your best piece of advice?
Whatever you choose to do in life, go for it!
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
Nap with feet up, do hair and makeup. I say a short prayer in the wing before the performance starts.
Which role has tested you the most & how?
The Shades trio in La Bayadére. It is a pure classical piece that demands precise technique in white tutus.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create?
I would do a chiffon dress with lace or mesh.
What do you look for in a dance partner?
Someone who complements me as a dancer and who does what is best for me.
What is your favorite quote?
Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined – by Henry David Thoreau
Do you have a ‘signature step’ – one that comes naturally to you?
The jump from Don Quixote where you bend backwards with your leg bent in attitude.
A phrase I use far too often is …?
“oh my gosh.”
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far?
So far, it has been the first time I danced Sir Frederick Ashton’s Birthday Offering, which was set for seven principal ballerinas of The Royal Ballet.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?
It’s a secret.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?
I would like to be dancing full-length ballets.