Cupcakes & Conversation with Maria Baranova, Principal, Finnish National Ballet
What motivates you at 8am on a Monday morning ?
A new day to make the future better and one more day to dance!
Why ballet ?
Ballet has everything that can give the soul a freedom and a feeling of fulfilment.
What are you looking forward to dancing this year ?
Unfortunately there is so little time left until the end of the year. I am looking forward to each performance, as I want to prove to myself and to everyone that I am able to be a principal dancer and that, despite my youth and inexperience, I can carry the responsibilities given to me with grace. Also, my primary goal here is to learn; and what else could be better than to learn something new and special and then share it with the audience ?
Who would you most like to dance with & what would you dance ?
I really can’t decide, I want so many things at the moment. I think it’s because I’m still so young. I dream of dancing every role and with various partners. I’ve only begun my career and I still have a long way to go!
If you could dance anywhere in the world (not only in a theatre), where would you dance ?
I’m not sure, but if I have to give a quick answer the first thing that comes to mind is dancing outside on a large plaza in a warm country, and of course in front of a large audience who really love ballet.
How do you prepare your pointe shoes ?
Nothing special. I bang the shoes against the floor, I put some glue on them, I soften the box with water and that is basically it.
What is your daily routine at the moment ?
I wake up and eat breakfast, and then I go to the theatre. In the theatre I first have a class and after that, rehearsals until evening or only for a half a day and then a performance in the evening.
You can ask six famous people to dinner – who would you invite ?
Valentino, Marius Petipa, Agripina Vaganova, Frederic Chopin, Leonardo Da Vinci, The Queen Victoria of England.
What would surprise people about you ?
For some reason people are always surprised that I speak so many languages.
Who inspired you to dance ?
What is your best piece of advice ?
To make the impossible possible and if you really want something you can make it happen.
How do you prepare in the hours before a show ?
Make-up, warm-up, and I like to be alone as much as possible, to concentrate and gather my emotions, so that I would be able to show the best possible performance when I get on the stage.
How do you deal with the stress of performing ?
I always tell myself “Don’t worry, be happy”. Think positive!
Which role has tested you the most & how ?
I haven’t done many until now; therefore I can’t give a commensurate answer. I only started a few weeks ago with Kitri in Don Quixote, and I suppose that so far, the biggest test was coming on the stage for the first time in a new environment, but after I started dancing I forgot all my nervousness and enjoyed performing my role enormously! Next is Nutcracker. I love doing different roles and characters and I hope that I will enjoy all of my future roles as much as my first one.
If you were asked to design your own ballet costume, what would you create ?
Something beautiful, comfortable and in a pastel colour.
What do you look for in a dance partner ?
In my opinion the most important thing is that we understand each other. A strong bond between the dancers is of outmost importance in order to bring the story, artistically and physically, to life. I also want my partner to be a hard worker, and of course he should have a good sense of humour to lighten up the mood and to work in a good atmosphere.
What is your favourite quote ?
Think and work with quality and simplicity.
A phrase I use far too often is … ?
You get better in what you practice.
What’s been your best on-stage moment so far ?
I enjoy every moment of being on stage and thus, I can’t single out any one specific moment.
In terms of your ballet career, where would you like to be in a year from now ?
I would love to dance in one of the greatest theatres of the world. But I think that will take a bit more than a year.
If you could dance in front of anyone, who would it be and what makes them special to you?
I love to dance for my family and for my dearest friends. I am always very happy when a have a possibility to do this.
What is your exit strategy, for the time when you stop dancing, and how did you plan it ?
I’ve only started my career! I’m immersed in dancing and haven’t given any thought to an exit strategy yet.
Watch Maria dance at Varna