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Svetlana Zakharova dancing Giselle, Act 1, Variation

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Published on Feb 11, 2010

Svetlana Zakharova, principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet and the Teatro alla Scala, is widely considered among the greatest living ballerinas today, together with Sylvie Guillem and Diana Vishneva.
Zakharova was born in Lutsk, Ukraine, on 10 June 1979. At age six, her mother took Svetlana to learn folk dancing at a local studio. At age 10, Svetlana auditioned for and was accepted into the Kiev Choreographic School. Just four months later, however, her father's reassignment in the army to East Germany forced Svetlana's withdrawal from school. Six months later, her family returned to Ukraine and Svetlana auditioned again for the Kiev Choreographic School. She was readmitted and immediately joined the second class, under teacher Valeria Sulegina.
In 1996-1997, she debuted with the Mariinsky Ballet, appearing as Maria with Ruben Bobovnikov, in Rostislav Zakharov's The Fountain of Bakhchisarai. In 2003-2004, she accepted a long-standing open offer with the Bolshoi, reportedly due to discontent with the Mariinsky.
Today, Zakharova tours and guests with the world's great ballet companies. She is highly regarded for her technical expertise, for her great feet and for her exceptionally high extensions, which invite comparisons with gymnasts.
Zakharova was awarded the State Prize of the Russian Federation (2006).

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Giselle, or Les Wilis, is a ballet in two acts with a libretto by Jules-Henrri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Théophile Gautier, music by Adolphe Adam, and choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot. The librettist took his inspiration from a poem by Heinrich Heine. The ballet tells the story of a peasant girl named Giselle who protects her lover from the vengeance of a group of evil female spirits called the Wilis. Giselle was first presented by the Ballet du Théâtre de l'Académie Royale de Musique, Paris, France, on 28 June 1841. The choreography in modern productions generally derives from the revivals of Marius Petipa for the Imperial Ballet (1884, 1899, 1903).

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