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The Last Word

Islom Baimuradov, Dancer
Islom Baimuradov is a principal character dancer with the Kirov Ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. He is an Austrian citizen (His mother is Austrian, and his father Uzbekistani), and as such he is the first foreigner to dance full time with the Kirov. He lives with Julia Kasenkova, a soloist ballerina with the company, and his young son.
by Peter Marienpol


Islom Baimuradov as Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty, Kirov Ballet, Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg.
What made you decide to become a dancer?

I didn't decide, it was my mother's decision! She sent me to a ballet school in Austria. She didn't say that she wanted me to be a dancer however, no, she asked me if I wanted to fence. When I said yes she told me that I needed ballet to be able to fence well, so I of course went along with it; somehow I stayed with the ballet, gave up the fencing. Then I had the opportunity to study at the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in St Petersburg, and that was how I went to the Kirov.

What is a character dancer?

It means a dancer who doesn't dance the role of the prince, but the non-classical parts like the Spanish Dance in Swan Lake. The second dancer in a classical ballet is often the bad guy, that's me; like Birbant the pirate in Le corsair.

Do you think it makes a difference to your career that you are not Russian - a foreigner?

Yes, I think so. It made people notice me more, which helped with getting reviews in newspapers and magazines. But, at the same time, I am the odd one out, and this means perhaps that there is a limit as to how far I can go with the company.

The Kirov is full of dancing families - sons and daughters of dancers; do you want your son to become a dancer?

No. It's too much hard work, and it's underpaid! As a kid you have no free time, all your childhood is spent in ballet classes.

What is your favourite part?

Lots of them. I like Carabosse in The Sleeping Beauty, Jose in Carmen (another bad guy), Nurali the slave driver in The Fountain of Bakhchiserai (you see how I like to play the hard man!). But it changes, you can dance a part well and you think it's your favourite part, you dance it badly and you hate it.

Who is your favourite dancer?

When I was a kid I had favourite dancers - Nureyev, Baryshnikov. Now the good dancers come and go so quickly that I don't notice them for long enough.



© 2005 Jeremy Noble