Eugenia Zinovieva on Dancing a Dream Role

Veteran company dancer Eugenia Zinovieva has danced everything from Sugar Plum to Carmen in her time at FBP, but next week she’ll make one of the most exciting debuts of her career as the Swan Queen in Swan Lake. This coveted role in the classical repertoire is unique in that the ballerina must dance as two different characters: Odette, the ballet’s sympathetic heroine, and Odile, a coy villainess, capable of cruel deceit. We sat down with Eugenia to hear how she’s preparing for this role of a lifetime…

 

Eugenia Zinovieva Swan Lake
Eugenia Zinovieva in rehearsal for Swan Lake.

FBP has performed Swan Lake a number of times over the years. It’s a classic that never gets old–our dancers and audiences alike always come back to it. What do you think it is that makes this ballet so iconic and powerful?
I think, similar to the Nutcracker, it’s familiar to people. Tchaikovsky’s music is just so memorable, it really sticks in your head. And the image of a flock of white swans also so striking. I think the imagery and the themes in the music–similar to in a work like Phantom of the Opera, where everyone knows certain parts of it–really work to draw people into the story.

How many times have you danced Swan Lake before? What other roles have you danced in the ballet?
I’ve only danced Swan Lake once before, but I danced just about everything except Odette/Odile! I did Pas de Trois and the Prince’s friends in Act I, Swans and Big Swans in Act II and IV, and the Hungarian Princess in the third act. I got to do a lot of different roles all in one go!

Eugenia Zinovieva Mindaugas Bauzys Swan Lake
Zinovieva and Mindaugas Bauzys in Act I of Swan Lake. Photo by Thomas Nola-Rion.

Since Odette/Odile is such a major role, do you feel that the rehearsal process is more intense this time around?
No actually! It’s so nice just to focus on one role. Even though it’s kind of two roles, it’s so much more cohesive and I have a bit more time offstage. In this part, when I’m onstage I can focus less on just getting through it, and more on the actual dancing!

What have been the biggest challenges and rewarding aspects in preparing for your debut as Odette/Odile?
One challenge has been finding the different ways to separate the characters of Odette and Odile. Sometimes I may think that I’m differentiating them in my head, but the way my movements come across I’m told, ‘Oh, you’re doing that too much like Odette, you need to be more like Odile.’ It’s really about finding the different head movements, Odile’s sharpness versus Odette’s control, which takes a lot of practice and focus.

What’s been really rewarding to me, though, having seen so many ballerinas perform this before me, between watching it on youtube and seeing it live, is finally getting to do those same movements onstage. Getting to create the same characters and go through the same process as all these other crazy-talented ballerinas is just amazing to me.

Eugenia Vinovieva João Sampaio Festival Ballet Providence Swan Lake
Vinovieva and João Sampaio in rehearsal for Swan Lake.

Having watched countless other ballerinas dance Odette/Odile, is this a role that you’ve dreamt of getting to dance yourself?
I honestly never thought that this would be something I get to do! I mean, I think it’s every girl’s dream to do Swan Lake, but I never imagined that I’d actually be dancing Odette. That’s crazy!

Congrats! We’re all so excited to see you make your debut in this role! What parts of the ballet are you most excited to perform onstage?
I really enjoy Act III where I dance as Odile. There’s still a lot that I’m working, on but I really enjoy the acting in that section. I love just getting to be this sassy, kind of evil character, with a dark side to her. She’s toying with the prince the whole time, and that whole section has just been really fun to work on.

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Of the two characters it sounds like enjoy dancing Odile more, but what are some of the things you like about each character?
I definitely feel more comfortable with Odile’s choreography. Physically, I feel more comfortable doing faster movements onstage. She’s got turns and jumps, whereas Odette is more about control and balance, which is more difficult for me as a dancer. But Odette also has all these really gorgeous upper body movements, with the way that she expresses through her arms and head. When I find a moment like that, where I can open up my upper body more, that feels really nice. So I am enjoying finding that part of this role as well. Still, Odile is more fun physically with jumping and turning!

Where have you found inspiration throughout this rehearsal process?
I have watched a ton of videos online, pretty much every video I could get my hands on of other professional ballerinas doing this role. I’m trying to take a little bit of inspiration from each of those. I also get inspiration from Milica Bijelic, our rehearsal director for Swan Lake. She’s done this role so many times, and she has a lot of wisdom to share. I get inspiration from my partner, João Sampaio, too. We always draw off each other’s energy and ask each other, ‘How can we make this better? How can we work together to make this look really good?’

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I think I can speak for you and all the members of this company in saying that Swan Lake is a very special ballet. What do you think our audiences will take away from this treasured classic?
Swan Lake really takes you away. It’s human, because you have all this emotion. I was watching the scene with the prince the other day, where he realizes he’s been tricked. You can just see the heartbreak, and I think that’s an emotion that everyone can connect with. Yet at the same time it’s magical. I mean, we’ve got all these swans onstage and it’s just beautiful. You get the chance to take yourself out of reality… but you can still connect with it.

See Eugenia take the stage as the Swan Queen next weekend, May 10-12, at The Vets! Click for tickets!

Please Note: Eugenia Zinovieva dances Odette/Odile May 10 and 12. Kirsten Evans dances Odette/Odile May 11. Casting is subject to change without notice.

Rehearsal photos by Dylan Giles. 

Meet our Nine(!) New Dancers

Festival Ballet Providence’s 41st season is about to be underway as the chatterBOXtheatre opens with Robin Hood this weekend. Just like this world premiere production of a classic tale, so much of this season mixes the familiar and beloved with the fresh and new. Our programs feature treasured classical ballets alongside daring contemporary works and bold new creations from our audiences’ favorite choreographers. We are also celebrating artistic director Misha Djuric’s 20th year at the helm (complete with an exciting evening of dance planned for November 3), while also welcoming nine new dancers making their debut with the company this season!

Get to know the newest members of the FBP family before you spot them on stage:

COMPANY DANCERS

Jay Markov

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Photo: Nathaniel Solis

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Previous Schools: Master Ballet Academy, San Francisco Ballet School
Previous Companies: Ballet Arizona, Los Angeles Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I look forward most to the ‘Smoke and Mirrors’ program in February and Swan Lake in the spring.

Charlotte Nash

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Photo: Kenneth Edwards

Hometown: Seattle, WA
Previous Schools: Pacific Northwest Ballet School, San Francisco Ballet School
Previous Companies: Houston Ballet, BalletMet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m looking forward to performing Serenade because I love dancing Balanchine ballets.”

João Sampaio

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Hometown: Três Rios, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Previous Schools: Núcleo de Dança, Carlos Henrique Bonforte Balletarrj School of Dance
Previous Companies: Tulsa Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m excited for the chance to learn Balanchine’s Serenade–it’s sure to help me get through the cold New England winter!”

 

APPRENTICES

Jessica Alvarez

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Photo: Michael Woodall

Hometown: Phoenix, AZ
Previous Schools: Master Ballet Academy
Previous Companies: commercial dancer with Bloc LA
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I am most excited to perform in Swan Lake and Serenade for this season.”

Emily Lovdahl

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Photo: Marc Darling

Hometown: Racine, WI
Previous Schools: The Studio of Classical Dance Arts (WI), Milwaukee Ballet II, BalletMet Trainee Program
Previous Companies: Nevada Ballet Theatre
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m looking forward to so many things this season! Dancing Serenade (with NBT in 2017) is one of my favorite memories and I can’t wait to revisit it! I love Swan Lake and am really excited to be part of the company all coming together on this iconic ballet. I’m also really excited to explore the contemporary rep and challenge myself in that facet of my dancing!”

 

TRAINEES

Athina Alimonos

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Photo: Michael Cairns

Hometown: Hadley, MA
Previous Schools: East Street Ballet, Massachusetts Academy of Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I’m most excited to continue developing myself as an artist through the diverse repertoire Festival Ballet Providence has to offer.”

Nora Ambler
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Hometown: Cambridge, MA.
Previous Schools: Fresh Pond Ballet, Boston Ballet School, Orlando Ballet School
Previous Companies: American Repertory Ballet.
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“This season I am most excited for the opportunities I will have to meet and learn from new dancers, teachers and choreographers. The repertoire here is very diverse, and I am looking forward to being exposed to so many different styles!”

Sara Clarke

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Photo: Mark Santillano

Hometown: Vernon, CT
Previous Schools: Connecticut Concert Ballet, Mercyhurst University
Previous Companies: dancEnlight, Lake Erie Ballet
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I am excited to be joining a company with such a vast repertoire so I can explore different movement vocabularies and expand my artistry. I’m also excited to dance a Balanchine work for the first time and to dance in Swan Lake”

Julia Guiheen

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Photo: Maximilian Tortoriello

Hometown: Madison, NJ
Previous Schools: Studio Allegro School of Ballet, Butler University
What are you looking forward to this season with FBP?:
“I am looking forward to working with lots of new choreographers as they create and set their work on the company. I’m also excited to get to know, dance with and learn from the other FBP dancers!”