Backstage: A Danseur

Backstage: A Danseur

IngoDance captured one day in the life of Artemy Belyakov, a Bolshoi Theater principal dancer, and talked to him about his interests, ambitions and philosophy.

Ballet is the school of life for me. Like sports, it builds character, dancers get used to discipline from a young age. Few people make a conscious choice to take up dancing, because parents send their children to ballet schools. At a more mature age, my life had already become so closely intertwined with ballet that my further choices were based on the life experience I got at the ballet academy and boarding school.

Backstage: A Danseur

By default, it was important for me, as an ambitious person, to study well. Ballet as such didn't really interest me, but since I was in ballet school, I had to do it well. Only over the years, I’ve realized how big a role ballet plays in my life. Ballet education teaches you not to waste a single minute. When most people just go to college, graduates of ballet schools are already starting to develop their careers and struggle for their place. This inner state of constantly running and struggling motivates to perform feats and achievements not only in ballet, but also in other areas.

Backstage: A Danseur

Of course, I always dream of getting something just like that... Unfortunately, life is not arranged this way, and even if you get something without any difficulty, then only in the areas you are not interested in. I can't even remember now how many obstacles I had to overcome at every stage of my life. Starting from minor everyday issues and ending with attempts to earn respect and problems that I created myself trying to grow up and overcome my demons. Moving forward would be impossible without overcoming difficulties.

Backstage: A Danseur

Even professionals have this sensation of being nervous or scared before going on stage and it doesn’t go away. It's not just about the size of your audience. Whether there is one person or two thousand people in the auditorium, the artists feel responsible to some invisible force that appears when we dance. Since childhood, we’ve been taught that if we go on stage, everything should be perfect. We have no room for error and get nervous because of this. The presence of spectators, on the other hand, is rather motivating and helpful.

Backstage: A Danseur

When I joined the Bolshoi Theater, I dreamed of working with Mikhail Lavrovsky and Alexander Vetrov, two legends of Russian ballet. My dream has come true and I’ve learned a lot from them. Together with Alexander Nikolaevich Vetrov we prepared almost all my roles.

Backstage: A Danseur

 I read almost all the books by Dostoevsky before the age of 16, the major works by Tolstoy - before 18. I am very impressed by two classic "male" writers - Remarque and Hemingway. Their outlooks on life differ but, at the same time, both of them reflect human nature in their books perfectly: in the case of Remarque, this is unrestrained romanticism, and in the case of Hemingway, simple and understandable male pain.

Backstage: A Danseur

I have always reacted calmly to envy and often experienced it myself. For example, I envy people with good flexibility and natural turn-out. I have limited capabilities in this regard, so when I see how a person's legs get into the right position just by themselves, I can’t help but think about how much effort and time it took me to do the same. On the other hand, I have good endurance and I can cope with strenuous physical activity and complex duet movements easier than other dancers. People often say to me, without hiding their envy, that I am an "iron man".

Backstage: A Danseur

People who reach great heights in ballet don't do it because they had flexible legs from birth. The most important talent is in your head. This is a talent for overcoming, a deep understanding of the fact that some things require more time or patience and some goals you won’t be able to achieve at all. When you learn to efficiently assess your capabilities, maneuver between them and use the right ones in the right places - this is, probably, the real talent.

Backstage: A Danseur

I have typical male interests: as far back as I can remember, I’ve always liked everything that guys usually like. Everything, except football, perhaps. I like fast cars, loud guitars, cool books that one might even call pop literature, like Fight Club and Game of Thrones.

Backstage: A Danseur

I am very serious about music, this is, probably, the closest thing to what I could do instead of ballet. Even if my life was not connected with dance, I would still be inspired by music. I was brought up on classical music, but I’ve always tried to expand my horizons and find strange bands in a wide variety of genres. Unfortunately, right now I don't have enough time to play the guitar, but sometimes I still take up the instrument. This is not an activity I have to be a professional in and make it public. I can just take any piece I like, play it with notes - purely for myself, for fun.

Backstage: A Danseur

My life is very tightly organized now, but I’ve never limited myself in development. Even when I was at the ballet academy, I was already studying the piano professionally, then I learned to play the guitar using a self-instruction guide, and I was doing boxing for a long time. Now, I continue my self-improvement: I stage performances, I’ve recently received a master’s degree in State Municipal Administration in Science, Education and Culture.

Backstage: A Danseur
Backstage: A Danseur
Backstage: A Danseur

I am a believer, but even in school I wondered how people find their way to God not so much from the prospective of canonical teachings as from the standpoint of logic and rationality. That is why, I enjoy reading religious philosophy. Recently, I’ve got very interested in the philosopher Miguel de Unamuno. He tries to convince himself that God exists, and eternity is possible, even though logic opposes this. I remembered his quote: “In the strong, the thirst of eternity overcomes doubt about its attainability.”

Backstage: A Danseur

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