Cupcakes & Conversation with Maia Makhateli, Principal, Dutch National Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning?
I’m not really fond of Monday mornings. I find it quite hard to get out of my bed in the morning and I guess it’s just the routine that makes me wake up and go to work. Although, working on an interesting new piece does sometimes motivate me on a Monday morning.
What are you looking forward to dancing next season?
Next season we will be dancing Swan Lake and Giselle, two classics that I have never danced before in my life. I’m really excited about this! Next season will offer a lot of new creations as well and even if I really don’t know yet what I will be dancing, I do very much look forward to it. I like to dance smaller creations besides the classics because they are often modern. Modern ballet teaches me skills that will make me dance the classic ballets even better as well.
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance?
I would really like to dance with my brother again (David Makhateli, principal at Royal Ballet). The last time we danced together was in 2000. We did Romeo & Julia together in Japan. Although I really enjoyed the performance, I wouldn’t like to dance a love story together with my brother again; it felt a bit awkward.
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance?
As a theatre I would love to dance in the Acropolis Theatre in Athens, Greece. I would not mind dancing in the water either, it seems like a real challenge to me.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes?
My pointe shoes are from the brand Gaynor Minden and are actually really easy to prepare. It takes me about 15 minutes. The only thing I do is sew on my ribbons and elastics and they’re done! Whereas before I had to put them in the oven, between doors etc.
What is your daily routine at the moment?
I wake up at 8h00, have breakfast. Go to class from 10:00 until 11:15 and then go in and out of rehearsals until 18:00. At 18:00 I go to the supermarket and if I am not too tired I cook. If I am too tired, my boyfriend cooks. We discuss our day, watch some tv and go to sleep.
What do you eat during the course of a typical working day?
I have breakfast with coffee and yoghurt, fruit or a croissant. For lunch I’ll have a salad or a soup. In the evening I have a normal meal like pasta, potatoes, meat or anything like it.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite?
Pff, that’s a tough question. I would ask Sting… Nina Simone… John Lennon (if we can invite dead people as well) and… Monica Belucci. I don’t know who else to invite…
What would surprise people about you?
I think people get what they see with me and are not often surprised by who I am or what I do.
Who inspired you to dance?
Definitely my family. My grandfather used to be a famous folk dancer in Georgia. My parents used to be principal dancers at the Georgian National Ballet and are now respected choreographers running their own company, the Makhateli Ballet Academy in Denver, Colorado. It is in my blood to be a dancer and I have never wanted anything else.
What is your best piece of advice?
Try to love everything you do.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show?
I sleep a bit before a performance. Then I warm up, do my hair and make-up, prepare my pointe shoes and listen to music. There is no special routine I cling to.
Which role has tested you the most & how?
Every role is a test. A role is very individual and the test is to make it your own.
What do you look for in a partner?
I want my partner to be open, a bit humoristic and to create an interesting working sphere.
Do you have a signature step?
I really like to make turns.
What has been your best on-stage moment so far?
Every moment! It always brings a lot of energy and adrenaline in its course when you’re on stage.
Do you have a secret skill which no-one knows about?
If I’d tell you, it wouldn’t be a secret anymore.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now?
10 steps higher than I am now. Even though I am a principal dancer now, I always have the feeling I can improve. I am a perfectionist and a performance can always be danced better in my opinion.
If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?
I would like to perform for Sandra Roelofs, the wife of the Georgian president. It would be an honour for me because she is part of my country now.