The City's Coolest Ballerina Talks S.F., Fashion, & Cutting A Rug Offstage!

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The S.F. Ballet’s quirky-cool principal dancer Maria Kochetkova has been stylishly dancing her way into our hearts since Day One. Whether she’s flaunting her moves on center stage, traipsing about town in her finest, or posing for our shutterbug, there’s no denying this gal's magnetism.
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As she gets ready to close the season with the much-anticipated, U.S. launch of British choreographer Christopher Wheeldon's production of Cinderella (in which she plays the lead!), the skilled sister is as busy as ever. Naturally, we were so elated to catch up with Kochetkova at the stunning opera house to talk about everything under sun — from how she finds inspiration to her all-time favorite role. Ready to learn even more ahead of this dancer's sure-to-be-mind-blowing performance? Have at it!
Can you tell us a little bit about your upcoming role in Cinderella, specifically how you portray the character?
"Cinderella was actually one of my dream roles. I’ve been dancing professionally for 11 years now, and I’ve never had a chance to play that part. I love the score as well — it is so beautiful. I didn’t really have a certain idea for her role before, and it really never crossed my mind that it would ever be choreographed for me — but it is everything I could wish for!"
What have been some of your favorite roles?
"I enjoy classical full-lengths (very few contemporary full-lengths), but I love Giselle,Onegin, and Don Quixote. Of course, also doing some of the contemporary works with people like Wayne McGregor. These are some of the works that I feel most comfortable in."
Do you have any pre-show rituals to prepare yourself before hitting the stage?
"Not really, but I get ready very early. I like being very concentrated and calm before I go onstage, to set me in the mood. I don’t like talking with anyone before, but rather staying quiet."
We know you are such a whiz onstage, but where do you break it down on your off-time?
"That’s a problem — I don’t really go dancing! But, I have a few friends who DJ, either in Miami, Paris, or New York, and I really enjoy that, but I don’t have a particular place in S.F. I have kind of given up on it in this city. The music really has to be right, and if the music isn’t something I want to dance to, then I don’t bother."
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Are there any particular songs that inspire you?
"It’s not the song, but rather the particular style of music, depending on my mood."
Where do you go to find inspiration in the city?
"I try to find inspiration everywhere — by meeting interesting people and going to exhibition openings, and I try to go to a lot of events. I love contemporary arts, so I love going to the galleries. I love music and films as well, and I think that film festivals are a great way of meeting people. I try to be open-minded, because you never know! And, I just try to be outside of the dance floor when I’m on my own. I also love to read a lot."
Zac Posen was just in town for an event with the S.F. Ballet — if you had the opportunity to see any other designer collaborate with the S.F. Ballet, who would it be?
"Jeremy Scott. His stuff is really crazy, but that would be fun! Comme des Garcons would be great as well."
Where can we find you when you're not working?
"I spend all my time in a studio, so I try to go out and do different things. I’ll go and get dinner with friends, because that helps me recharge my brain. Definitely meeting and talking to people not in the ballet world helps me rest. I know some dancers go home and sleep or work, but that would be so tiring for me."
Photographed by Anna-Alexia Basile
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