Young Brazilian dancer Victor Caixeta joined the Mariinsky Ballet as a trainee in 2017 after the graduation from the Staatliche Ballettschule Berlin. During his time at the Mariinsky he has danced already some leading roles including Ali in “Le Corsaire” and The Nutcracker Prince. We have talked with Victor about his first days in Saint Petersburg, Russian winters, freedom, xenophobia and his plans for the future.
Can you share your memories about your first days in Russia? What surprised you most of all? Is it difficult to survive Russian cold winters and gloomy weather of Saint Petersburg?
I had a really good impression of Saint Petersburg when I first came to visit the company in July 2017. I was lucky to have the white nights and I was so impressed by how rich in art this city is, I’ve never seen something like that before! And yes, it was pretty hard to get used to winter, even nowadays, one and a half year later, I can say I don’t like it...
What was your first impression about the Mariinsky and its dancers?
I’ve always following the Mariinsky stars, and they’ve always been an inspiration for me, and when I arrived it was really exciting. I was lucky enough to stay between 2 amazing dancers in my first barre at the Mariinsky, they were Olesya Novikova and Xander Parish, and I will never forget that day!!!
Victor Caixeta in Le Corsaire, Photo by Natasha Razina © State Academic Mariinsky Theatre
What has changed in your opinion about Russia and the Mariinsky within the time? What are the bad and good traits of Russian people have you noticed?
I think everything was becoming more common, because when I got here, for a while it seemed like I was dreaming and I couldn’t believe I was dancing on the same stage as all my favorite dancers. Now it's already normal, and they respect me as I respect them. As for Russian people, before I came here, I heard many things saying that “Russians are cold” and all of this stuff but I’ve found a quite warm group of people in my circle of friends. I think the bad thing that I felt here is that some Russians can be very xenophobic, especially after I stepped into the spotlight, not only to me but to all of the foreigners. Sometimes I find forums of ballet fanatics in Russia, and some of them can be very aggressive and nonsense, but my family back in Brazil, even with all the financial issues, gave me the best education, so I don’t really take any of this critics to heart. I guess my hard work will speak for itself, and those who criticize me can be sure all the opportunities I’ve gotten so far, I worked to achieve them and deserved them.
Who is your couch at the theatre? What are the main advice he gives you? How does he describe characters you are supposed to dance? Does he have any peculiarities in teaching or daily life?
I have the honour to work with Gennady Naumovich Selyutsky! He gives me more than just advice, he cares about me as if I was his son. Our relationship is really funny, but still really respectful. He takes care about all the steps I do on stage, and also about acting, which for him is more important than any technique and tricks. He also takes care of what I eat and if I have a safe home to sleep! He calls me almost every night to see how I’m feeling after a long day of rehearsals and performances, and it repeats all days of the week (including my “day off”). I can never thank God enough for blessing me with such a pedagogue!
Is it true that dancers and teachers of the Mariinsky are really devoted to ballet to the point ballet became their life?
Yes, it’s true! Most dancers and teachers live just for the Theater. They don’t give much of their time to their family or friends, they spend all of their time working, but I guess with pleasure, like in my case!
Who are your favourite dancers of the Mariinsky? Why? Who is your favourite partner?
I have many dancers from Mariinsky that I love, but if I had to make a choice from those who are still dancing and haven’t retired, I would say Vladimir Shklyarov and Olesya Novikova, but if I could mention from other generations, my list could be infinite! Olesya and Vladimir, are the kind of dancers that put their personality into all the ballets they dance, they’re one in a million, that’s why they are my favorites. And if I can’t decide who my favorite partner is, as I didn’t dance with that many dancers, but I can say that I always have a good time with May Nagahisa!
Victor Caixeta and May Nagahisa in The Nutcracker. Photo by Valentin Baranovky © State Academic Mariinsky Theatre
What roles are you preparing now? What are the favourites ones among those you have already danced?
I’m preparing Basilio from Don Quixote, which is one of my dream roles, but I still don’t know when and if I will get the chance to dance it, hopefully, I will be ready soon! From the roles I’ve danced, maybe my favorite was The Nutcracker Prince, because of the excitement of the Christmas time and, of course, because of the beautiful music by Tchaikovsky!
What things (maybe, food) do you miss while being in Russia?
I miss a lot of things, first of all, my family and the amazing support I had back home... It’s really hard walking this journey alone, especially when something special happens, I hate to share it by phone. I wish they were here to live these moments with me! I also miss the food and my friends back home, and, of course, the weather from Brazil!
Victor Caixeta in Infra. Photo by Natasha Razina © State Academic Mariinsky Theatre
Is Saint Petersburg a truly European city for you?
Russians say that St Petersburg is not really like a Russian city, and it’s more European, but after living in Europe for a while, I still feel lots of differences!!!
What is the situation with freedom in Russia? Have you come across any aggression to foreigners? Mariinsky public sometimes tends to be really conservative.
As I’ve mentioned, I’ve had many problems being a “foreigner” here. I know and I respect that the Mariinsky have their traditions and I think this is incredible, but I believe that on stage talent and hard work is what people should watch, not which passport I have... And I’m so grateful to the theater, and specially to my pedagogue, for not seeing me as “the Brazilian guy”, but the talented young dancer Victor Caixeta!
You studied in Berlin. Are you planning to come back there? Why do you love this city so much?
Yes, I lived in Berlin for a while, and I just felt in love and found my place. But for now I know that Saint Petersburg is the best place for me, but from the moment I feel unhappy here, I won’t think twice before going back to my Berlin. “Ich bin ein Berliner“!!!
Do you speak Russian already?
Well, I’ve got to a point where everything is comfortable, I understand people, and people understand me, so I guess this is a “да”!
Victor Caixeta and Maria Khoreva in Concertino Bianco. Photo by Natasha Razina © State Academic Mariinsky Theatre
Black and white photos by Tonia Ekimova