Ballet Dancers Who Traded Figure Skates for Pointe Shoes

Ballet Dancers Who Traded Figure Skates for Pointe Shoes

They all started figure skating as children, and even succeeded in sports, but one day they decided to switch the ice for the ballet stage.

Nina Ananiashvili

Parents brought Nina to the ice rink to improve her poor health, and the girl started making progress very quickly. At the age of six, she received her first sports category and a few years later became the champion of Georgia among athletes of her age. 

The young figure skater was introduced to ballet by her coach. Later, Ananiashvili recalled: 

“She showed me The Dying Swan that I was performing on ice. Later, when I was already 10, I had to make a choice - figure skating or ballet. I chose ballet for some reason. I told my mom that I wanted to try. And ballet became my whole life.”  

The Tbilisi Dance School was followed by the Moscow Academy of Choreography. In 1981, Nina Ananiashvili started dancing on stage of the Bolshoi Theater, became a prima ballerina and started receiving invitations to join ballet companies in different countries - the world recognition came together with them. Aurora, Giselle, Raymonda, Juliet, Kitri, Odette-Odile performed by the ballerina were admired by audiences in many ballet capitals. In the rating of the 12 of the greatest ballerinas of all time compiled by the British newspaper The Telegraph in 2016, she was ranked sixth.  

Anna Russkikh

The future ballet dancer of the Bolshoi Theater practiced figure skating and rhythmic gymnastics as a child. Afterwards, the ballerina recalled that gymnastic coaches even gave her mother a kind of an ultimatum: 

“When my mom brought me to rhythmic gymnastics, she was literally told as follows: “We are accepting your daughter, but on condition that you won’t take her to ballet in a couple of years.” And this actually triggered my mother - in a little while, she took me to ballet.”  

At the age of nine, Anna entered the preparatory ballet class, already having experience in training and performing on both ice and gymnastic carpet. Such a great background allowed her to enter the Moscow Academic Choreographic School a year later. After graduation, the stage of the Bolshoi Theater and the debut part in the ballet Don Quixote awaited the ballerina. Today, Anna Russkikh is not only a ballet dancer and a teacher-choreographer with the Bolshoi Theater. She also manages to maintain a blog, in which, according to her, she talks “not only about beauty, about ballet”, but also about everything that is close to herself. 

Anna Zharova

The current prima ballerina of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater began her journey on the ice rink too. At the same time, her ballet start was also early: at the age of five. Here is what the ballerina said about how she had made her choice:

“I started with figure skating, and the coaches noticed that I was making good progress. After about six months of classes, I switched to ballet.”

So, after a brief debut in figure skating, Anna decided to try herself in ballet art. And she stayed for a long time: after graduating from the Novosibirsk State Choreographic School, she entered the ballet company of the city theater. The ballerina's repertoire includes the entire gallery of classical characters, including Giselle and Princess Aurora, Marie from The Nutcracker and Carmen. 

Interestingly, Zharova's daughter didn’t follow in her mother's footsteps but got into figure skating, which happened at the age of five as well. 

Polina Semionova and Dmitry Semionov

They were doing figure skating at the CSKA sports club when they were little. For four years, Polina was taking the ice on a regular basis: she trained intensely and participated in competitions. Semionova also practiced dancing. 

It is likely that being tall would’ve prevented the girl from achieving significant success in figure skating. But in ballet, this was not a problem for sure: in 2002, Polina Semionova graduated from the Moscow Academy of Choreography. She began her stage career in Germany, where she quickly became the prima ballerina of the Berlin State Opera. As a guest soloist, Semionova appeared on stage at La Scala and Vienna Opera, she also danced with the ballet companies of England, Tokyo and Zurich. The audience of the Bolshoi and Mariinsky theaters also saw her on stage.

Polina's brother Dmitry kept her company in figure skating as a child and, according to his recollections, both of them were deeply involved in this process. Subsequently, Dmitry Semionov also made a choice in favor of ballet, enrolling in the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in St. Petersburg. The stage career of the dancer developed with the Mariinsky Theater, where he was a soloist from 1999 to 2006. Over the years, Dmitry Simeonov worked with the ballet companies of such theaters as the Dresden Opera, the Berlin State Ballet, the German Theater of Dortmund. As for the figure skating, it, obviously, remained a hobby and one of the childhood memories.