We caught up with Mariinsky Theatre first soloist and BLOCH Spokesperson Maria Khoreva to find out how she spends a typical day preparing for a big ballet role, her top tips for aspiring dancers and her BLOCH must-haves!
Think back to that moment you first discovered your passion for dance. Can you recall it clearly? For Russian ballet dancer Maria Khoreva, it was on completion of her performance in a school production at Vaganova Ballet Academy. The young dancer cites this as the turning point when she realised dance was her “meaning in life” and that she wanted to follow it as a career, no matter what.
"When I was in 5th grade I was dancing a variation in our school concert, and after I’d performed, I felt like I’d achieved something so valuable and important to me — I was ecstatic!" she reveals. "That was the moment I knew I wanted to pursue a career in ballet, no matter what. It became my meaning in life."
It’s this raw passion — together with her unwavering drive and talent — that has set her up for sterling success in the industry since, with a repertoire boasting roles in La Bayadère (as Nikia), Swan Lake (as Pas de trois), Le Corsaire (as Medora, Trio of Odalisques) and The Nutcracker (as Masha). Having now graduated from the Vaganova Ball Academy, 19-year-old Khoreva has gone on to become the first soloist of the Mariinsky Ballet since 2018. It’s little wonder then, that she is capturing attention as one of the most notable young talents to join the prestigious company in recent years.
So, with further demanding roles in the pipeline, how does Khoreva spend a typical day? Here she shares an insight into her active schedule as well as her BLOCH must-haves!
What is your typical day-to-day routine like?
I have my breakfast then head to the Mariinsky Theatre for ballet class at 11 a.m. I start warming up about 50 minutes before class starts, as it’s important to activate my body and brain properly. During class we’ll warm up but also ‘channel’ ourselves by practising all movements correctly — this makes sure the day of rehearsals goes smoothly. Afterwards, I’ll usually have a few rehearsals for upcoming performances, but this depends on the availability of my coach and the studio.
Photography credit: Natalya Sleta
What does your rehearsal schedule look like?
I don’t usually rehearse on the days I perform bigger roles, but if the role is short, I might have a rehearsal for an hour or so. If I don’t perform, I’ll come home, write some notes in my planner, have dinner, post on Instagram then check my emails. If there’s time, I’ll watch a TV show or read before going to bed. On the days I perform, I usually stay up late as our shows don’t finish until 10.00 or 11.00 p.m.
How do you get ready for a big performance?
It’s always been important for me to immerse myself in the story of the ballet I’m performing, to understand why my character behaves, dances or shows emotion a certain way. I read the literature that laid the foundation of the ballet, watch videos on its history and other dancers performing it, then try to discover my own expression during rehearsals. I also love the visualisation technique, it helps to close my eyes and imagine doing the moves exactly how I want them to look. I believe this builds the right connections between neurons in my brain — I always find it much easier to rehearse the next day!
Talk us through your dance journey.
I began dancing roles in ballets performed by the students of Vaganova Ballet Academy on stage of the Mariinsky when I was 10 — my first important role was a Doll in The Nutcracker during 5th grade. I then continued performing in Vaganova’s graduation performances during my 7th and 8th years, dancing in The Fairy Doll, Classical Symphony by Lavrovsky, variations from Paquita, Suite en blanc by Lifar, and Dance of the Hours from the opera Gioconda. I then joined Mariinsky Ballet where my first role as a member of the company was Terpsichore from George Balanchine’s Apollo, which will forever remain one of my favourites. I also performed Trio of Odalisques in Le Corsaire and Friends of the Prince from Swan Lake. My next big role was the lead in Paquita and I had a blast! The process of creating the character and bringing it to the audience was fascinating.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Dancing La Bayadère in the Mariinsky Theatre.
Photography credit: Natalya Sleta
How do you take care of your feet?
I like taking an ice-cold bath, but sometimes I prefer a hot one with salt and herbs. At the end of the day I will always have my feet massaged and apply some soothing cream to aid healing.
Can you share your exercise regime?
During work season I start with class at 11:00 a.m. and I would normally have one to three rehearsals with a break in between. I finish the day either performing or going home to rest. When I’m on holiday, I normally go to the gym once or twice a day, as well as running or cardio. I also swim a lot too.
How do you stay fit and healthy?
For me, staying fit and healthy is about getting the balance right between exercising and resting. Eating healthy is very important too.
What are your favourite BLOCH products?
Which is your favourite BLOCH leotard?
I love wearing a very simple, basic style with camisole straps during rehearsals.
Which BLOCH shoes do you wear and what do you love about them?
I’ve been wearing Serenade Strong Pointe Shoes* for more than five years now, and I love how I can feel the floor in them. I also love how they go through a kind of life cycle, starting off as brand new, then breaking in as I dance, before finally coming to the end of their life and I have to replace them.
What tips would you give to young, aspiring dancers who dream of pursuing a career in dance?
Make the most of your time while you are studying, noting all the teacher’s corrections, because you won’t always have as much time to learn. Finally, everything should be prepared well in advance.
What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I read a lot of fiction and books about ballet, including biographies. I like to watch movies and cook desserts too. When I’m travelling, I enjoy walking for hours exploring new places and cultural peculiarities.
Photography credit: Natalya Sleta
Which choreographers inspire you most?
John Neumeier and Wayne McGregor.
Finally, what's next for you?
I’m looking forward to presenting my version of Paquita, Nikiya and Diamonds to the American audience in October , it will be demanding but also extremely supportive. I will also be working on upcoming roles such as Raymonda and Princess Aurora from The Sleeping Beauty.
*We recommend you get fitted by our professional BLOCH pointe shoe fitters every time you purchase a new pair of pointe shoes to make sure they fit perfectly. An appointment must be booked in advance of every fitting.