“My advice is to gain a knowledge of traditional folk dance, music basics, drama theatre, and methods of training in different countries. This understanding will make your dancing deeper, richer, and more interesting.”
Saniya Abilmajineva is a multi-award-winning ballerina and a Principal Dancer with Canada’s Ballet Jörgen. Saniya coaches CBJ’s Summer Intensive and Junior Company Programs, for which she has created the classical pas-de-deux, “Child of Clay” and group piece, “Bolero.” In this interview, Saniya talks about her most significant performance roles, key lessons she has discovered throughout her 15-year performance career, and how an evening observing seagulls at the cottage inspired her creation for UNLEASHED 2019.
Which performance roles have been the most significant to you during your nine years dancing with CBJ?
The role of Anastasia from the ballet, Anastasia, choreographed by Bengt Jörgen, was very meaningful to me. It’s a deeply dramatic ballet and role. The music is beautiful, the choreography is magnificent, and it’s a very touching story. It’s also a real history of Russia, where I lived, trained, and danced for a long time. It was such an interesting experience in my dance career. My other favorite roles are Odette/Odile in Swan Lake. I am so thankful to Canada’s Ballet Jörgen for giving me the opportunity to dance these roles!
What lessons from your training have helped you most in your professional dance career?
The first is to always trust your teachers. Second, when you are doing any exercise, think not only about the technical part, but also how you would like to present the steps and movements. Think about their character and how you can show your personal feelings. It’s very important to use your feelings and imagination, even when you’re doing a warm-up class. For example, I use my imagination in class when doing a développé. In ballet, développé is when you lift one leg to the knee and extend in different directions. When I do this, I don’t just extend my leg; I imagine delivering something very delicious on the top of my foot to the audience. This changes the style of the movement.
It has also been important for me to understand the history of ballet and other styles of dance. My advice is to gain a knowledge of traditional folk dance, music basics, drama theatre, and methods of training in different countries. This understanding will make your dancing deeper, richer, and more interesting.
What can you share with us about your creation for UNLEASHED 2019?
It’s a classical ballet piece titled, “Seagulls.” The idea was born last summer when I was at the cottage. One evening, I sat by the shore and watched the seagulls. They caught my attention as they flew over the water. Seagulls do one big swoop of their wings then soar for a while without excess movement. It bewitches me! I will show the audience their personality, character, and behaviour. Seagulls can be so beautiful and pacified, even majestic sometimes, especially in the evening. They also can be noisy, impudent, and funny. They can steal food! But they live in community and help each other in difficult situations. The piece will show one day in the life of seagulls using three musical pieces, each with their own style and musical meter. I hope the audience enjoys my creation!
Saniya’s creation, “Seagulls,” features the following GBD dancers:
Rachel Schilberg (CBJ Mentorship Student)
Written by Victoria Campbell Windle, CBJ Communications Contributor.
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