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Georgeta Varvarici: "Talent or hard work is not always the thing"

Having exquisite body lines, beautiful arched feet and long limbs, Georgeta Varvarici, a Moldavian born ballet dancer, also gifted with hyperextension and extraordinary turnout, seems to be born to do ballet. In our interview she tells us about the beginning of her dancing career, her life outside theatre, passion for fashion and upcoming projects she has in mind.

When and where was your first ballet class? Why did you start doing ballet?

I started at the age of 9. Why did I start doing it? I think it was more from my parents because I had no idea what ballet is like. I didn’t know that it was going to be so hard. It was actually more from my dad because on the event he did, he met a director of the ballet school from Moldavia. He said they were going to start the audition for the school. My dad told him, “Oh, I have a daughter”, so he answered, “You definitely may bring her”. So, he brought me the very next day, they saw me and took me straightaway to the school.

What was your first impression of ballet at the ballet school? For example, Nikolai Tsiskaridze wanted to dance on stage at that very moment he entered the school. He didn’t want to do exercises. What about you?

I don’t really remember what my first impression was like. I guess I could feel intimidated because there were a lot of girls, I thought that I could look awkward. As a kid I was kind of shy, but I tried to work it through and think what I have to do next. I was just following the flow. When I grew up after a few years, I wanted to dance more and more, but, honestly, it was hard for me. The more you’re gifted, the harder it is for you, so I had to do extra classes in the evening and stuff like that. But I definitely could not see myself straightaway like other dancers saw themselves – “Oh, I will be a prima ballerina”. I was following the flow like “I’ll get there when I get there”.

Photographer Daniel Graf

You say it was difficult. Was it really unbearable?

Yeah. Parents who are planning to give their children to ballet schools, have to think at first that their kids should have a strong mind, because it’s really hard, also mentally, to be in a school where teachers scream at you and make you feel bad, but you should know they try to encourage you.

Of course, you’ve heard of different teaching methods, for example, of the Moscow Ballet Academy and of the Vaganova Ballet Academy. Are they different from those you had in Moldavia?

In Moldavia we had the Vaganova base, because our teachers used to study there. It was exactly the same tough and hard training.

Photographer Tim Raack

Do you think it’s necessary for teachers to use cruel methods of teaching ballet? Or they can tell you how to do it in a calm voice, and you’ll get the idea?

I think, everybody has their own style of teaching. At school I was kind of a person that wanted somebody to scream at me because I would get stronger. But for everybody it’s different. If you take it personally, if you are super shy or intimidated, that’s a big problem. I also think that dancers should have a psychologist. Probably, every person has to have one, but for ballet dancers it’s what’s definitely needed.

You’ve mentioned some shy people who can’t stand all this public humiliation, so, do you think taking private classes can be a way for them?

Of course, if you take them in your free time like twice a week, then, it is definitely not going to work. But if it’s every day, then, yes, because I’ve seen schools that had people who really wanted to do ballet, and they had really good teachers, and even though they start quite late, they are still pretty good. I guess, if you work hard, you can achieve a lot of things.

Photographer Philippe Rives

What is more important: hard work or talent? Or both?

Nowadays you just have to believe in yourself, because sometimes not even talent or hard work can make you go through things or succeed. From my point of view, the most important thing is luck, not your talent, not hard work. If you’re lucky, you’ll get it.

Can you tell us about the reasons why you left the Staatsballett Berlin?

I left the Staatsballett Berlin because of my private reasons, but at the same time I knew that I need to take a pause in my ballet career. I’ve made my own decision to take one year off of ballet to understand exactly what I really want. I think it’s a good idea for everybody to have a break to see if they do it for passion or just for money.

Photographer Philippe Rives

Did you come across any signs of jealousy or prejudice against you?

From time to time people tend to be nice, but you don’t really understand if they mean it or not. If there wasn’t jealousy, there would be such a perfect ballet world, but it’s usually the opposite, and you can’t run away from it.

Would you like to enter a big company once again?

You know, dancers’ minds change all the time, and I’ve changed my mind already. I thought I wouldn’t do ballet anymore, but a few months later I realized that my body and mind needed it, and started doing training for myself to keep in a shape. Probably, someday I will try again to get in a big company, but at first I will have to work on my mind to be ready. Until then, I just take my time and enjoy the beautiful city and beautiful people.

Do you have any favourite dancers?

From the past I like Anna Pavlova, she’s definitely a great ballerina. Among male dancers of the past, I love Vladimir Vasiliev. He looked manly on stage and was really charismatic. I know that Uliana Lopatkina is already done with ballet, but I believe she’s still going to be a legend, because she’s just gorgeous. From nowadays, I also like Olga Smirnova, Maria Kochetkova, Sergei Polunin, Roberto Bolle. I was really happy to be working with Marian Walter of the Staatsballett Berlin. He is an inspiration to the guys and to everybody, because he has such a strong technique.

Photographer Tim Raack

Don’t you think you have a lot in common with Sergei Polunin?

I believe, yes, maybe not from a ballet point of view, but mostly by character. He likes tattoos, and he has a strong personality. I think I also have it.

How many tattoos do you have?

A few of them. They are small but have a certain meaning to me. I don’t like quotes for tattoos. I think you can get bored seeing them every day. You may keep quotes and motos in mind, and it will be enough.

But for a ballet performance dancers should cover tattoos with plaster or with some tan. That’s a problem, I think.

Yes, they have to cover them, but having tattoos is cool. I’m definitely for it. In past years ballerinas were thought to be tender, having no make-up and no tattoos. Nowadays tattoos are just a part of your life. I like people who want to show their “self”. If they want to have a tattoo, I don’t think ballet should be an obstacle to it.

Do you like Berlin? Do you think it’s beautiful?

Partly. I really like Mitte. It’s totally my style. It’s new, clean, it’s like a completely different city. Also Charlottenburg is nice but some parts are kind of boring. Berlin is super big, so you can choose places for your taste.

What would you advise to a person who has just arrived to Berlin?

Go to the Deutsche Oper, buy tickets and watch ballet. That’s what I’m going to say (laughing).

You’ve already mentioned some of your projects. Can you tell us about them?

Well, some people noticed that I’m obsessed with fashion. I have to look nice, even if it’s not necessary for Berlin. You can look how you want in Berlin, but for me it’s still really important to look good. So, one day it came to my mind: why not to create a project “Ballerina in fashion”? Some people say that dancers don’t have a good taste for clothes, but I think it’s a myth. It would be nice to show how ballet dancers dress up.

Photographer Tim Raack

Do you want Sergei Polunin to join your fashion project? I think he’s into fashion as well.

I don’t think he has enough time to join this kind of project, but I’m looking forward to other ballet dancers to collaborate with me.

Who are your favourite designers?

I always buy bags and shoes from designers. One of my favourites are Valentino, Guess, Michael Kors, Lagerfeld.

Can you recall the cheapest thing you bought and the most expensive one?

(laughing) The cheapest thing I bought was socks for 2 euros, it was from my student times, when money was the issue. Well, the most expensive one? I think it was a fur coat that cost 5 thousand euros and was definitely worth it.

Photographer Tim Raack

What are you dreaming of?

Everyone has wonderful hopes and dreams of their future. As a typical Virgo, I extremely desire everything to be perfect, especially my future life. I want to be a successful woman, to run my own business in order to earn more money for myself, my family and people that are in need of them. However, being successful does not only mean to be rich. I firmly believe that liberty is the vital importance in my life. The freedom of doing what you love: travelling, meeting new people in your life, learning new languages, communicating with people all over the world – that’s what makes me truly happy. I strongly believe all these hopes are not just dreams. I have the confidence that I can make them come true through my unrelenting efforts.

Photographer Daniel Graf


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