Marko Juusela

Special project Foreigners in St. Petersburg

It has been long time the Russian ballet has opened its doors to the world, and our domestic theatres confirm the statement. The companies have become very multinational: with the dancers from Korea, Japan, Brazil, USA and Europe. The foreign names are so hotly favourite to the Russian audience, and we’ve been already watching the dancers graduating from Russian academies. La Personne team has met seven foreigners, dancing in Mariinsky Theatre, and created extended photo stories about future (and current!) heroes of the Russian stage. We were wandering with them by the windy Neva costs, we got behind the scenes and to the studios and even asked to be allowed to visit the secret art and sculpture workshops of St. Petersburg.  

Marko Juusela


Mariinsky Theatre, Ballet Studio

Author: Olga Ugarova

Photos: Ira Yakovleva

Translate: Ekaterina Bornovitskaya

MUAH: Maria Bystrova

I was born in a small town in Finland. My parents have never had any connection to art: my father is a fireman and my mother is a real estate agent. Bu I’ve been drawn to dance since childhood, speaking the truth I can’t remember why it has happened. I was asking and praying my parents, especially my farther, for a long time to carry me to a dance school, finally they gave up (laughing). So, I moved to Helsinki to learn classic dance.


When I was 15, I got into the summer intensive camp, which was attended by the teachers from Vaganova Ballet Academy, one of them invited me to St. Petersburg. In autumn I arrived at Architect Rossi Street.

My two last years in the Academy I was taught by Nikolai Tsiskaridze. All our grade had very warm relationships with him. Yes, it was very hard to study, physically hard, but it was amazing! Anyhow I’ve never thought I could get to Mariinsky Theatre, although I danced Prince’s part in the Academy – first with Masha Khoreva, then with Sasha Hiteeva. It all seemed unattainable.    

St. Petersburg alerted me at the beginning. I think because of the fact I am from a small town. But approaching my graduating year, I’ve learned the city more and more: museums, theatres – it’s full of culture. When I started working, I could manage to walk sometimes (laughing). Mostly, I am impressed by the embarkments, Neva and channels, I suppose… Because I was also born by the big water.    

Yes, I love classical ballet, but the modern choreography is also close to me: David Dawson, Akram Khan, Mats Ek. Not long ago in a summer school in Dresden I danced an episode from The Sleeping Beauty by Ek. During my first year in Mariinsky I took part in The Daphis and Chloe by Vladimir Varnava. I liked so much the delicate and joyful plasticity of his language. Currently I participate in a number of classical ballets, but I always want to try different things, because it’s so interesting! 

Special thanks to PR-department of the Mariinsky Theatre, Darina Grybova and Vitaly Kotov in person for assistance in creating the material. 

Original article Marko Juusela on La Personne.

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