Drawing: Maria Alexandrova, Principal with the Bolshoi Ballet

Maria Alexandrova

When Moscow-born ballet dancer Maria Alexandrova became a Principal with the Bolshoi Ballet in 2004, she was considered by audiences and critics in both Russia and beyond as the most distinctive ballerina of the new century. She is one of those rare dancers who have a commanding stage presence and superb technique.

Her signature moves are a soaring jump and extraordinary ballon (that’s the ability to being lightweight and effortlessly airborne). She won the Gold medal at the Moscow International Ballet Competition, which she put in perspective.” The main thing is not to be first, but to be the best.” Maria was in London recently with the Bolshoi as part of it’s Diamond Jubilee three-week summer season at the Royal Opera House with a five programme repertoire, including DON QUIXOTE, THE FLAMES OF PARIS and LE CORSAIRE where she kindly signed my sketch.

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Drawing: Ekaterina Krysanova, Principal with the Bolshoi Ballet

Ekaterina Krysanova

I drew an initial sketch of Russian ballet star Ekaterina Krysanova and dropped it into the Royal Opera House in London for her to sign during the Bolshoi Ballet’s three-week Diamond Anniversary residency at Covent Garden recently.  ‘Bolshoi’ literally means ‘big’ and she’s one of their biggest names. I immediately received a very nice complimentary note back, but, alas no signed sketch. This has happened on a few occasions when people inadvertently forget to include the sketch. I redrew this one and popped it back to the Opera House. This time my second letter contained the prize. I did say she could keep the initial drawing.

After graduating from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in 2003, the Moscow native joined the famous company rising to Lead Soloist in 2009, before becoming a Principal.

Among her many medals is the Gold at the 2001 at the Prix de Luxemborg International Ballet Competition.

She was the only Principal to appear in all five productions  DON QUIXOTE, SWAN LAKE, TAMING OF THE SHREW, THE FLAMES OF PARIS and LE CORSAIRE this year, so I was super appreciative she took the time out of a hectic schedule to accommodate my requests.

Drawing: Kristina Kretova, Leading Soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet

Kristina Kretova

One of the more interesting autographs came back this week. Interesting in the sense of the writing implement used. Leading soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet Kristina Kretova signed her sketch in what looks like a magenta crayon, possibly a grease paint theatrical makeup without any detailed forensic analysis. As one can imagine, sharpies are obviously a low priority item in the dressing rooms at Covent Garden. She also added a little ballerina pictogram. Very cool. Sixty years after it’s first visit to London, the famous Russian company has just finished it’s Diamond Jubilee Guest Tour series of concerts at the Royal Opera House.

Kristina graduated from one of the Bolshoi’s feeder schools, the Moscow State Choreographic Academy in 2002. But instead of joining the main company, she went to a smaller one, the Kremlin Ballet Theatre, where she was immediately promoted to Soloist and able to perform lead roles in classical ballets such as GISELLE and THE SLEEPING BEAUTY. She joined the Bolshoi in 2011 and during this summer’s London run performed in all five productions, DON QUIXOTE, SWAN LAKE, THE TAMING OF THE SHREW, THE FLAMES OF PARIS and LE CORSAIRE.

In an interview with the Wall Street Journal during the Bolshoi’s season at the Lincoln Center in 2014, Kristina  commented on facing the New York critics. “Nerves aren’t a problem. As a mother I have bigger things to worry about.” If she worried every night she would be crazy already she added. The critics praised her performances by the way. The 32 year-old has a young son… who may have some crayons… suitable for colouring in…. and signing sketches? I wonder.