Interviewing my former Director, Vladimir Issaev

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The first time that I heard about Maestro Vladimir Issaev was at my first ballet competition in Caracas, in 2010.

Perhaps I heard his name before near the Teresa Carreno Theatre, since, based on the Venezuelan ballet history, Maestro Issaev worked many years with the national ballet company alongside Maestro Vicente Nebrada. All during the golden era of ballet in my country (70s and 80s).

During that competition, Maestro Vladimir was the principal judge and the master class teacher. Little by little I began to understand the important position he has. In between the rehearsals, former dancers from Teresa Carreno Theatre arrived just to say hello to their former teacher.

The next year (2011) Maestro gave me the scholarship to participate in the Summer Intensive of Russian Technique from Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida, in which I learned so much from world-class teachers. But nothing was compared to my actual move to Miami in 2013, when he opened once again the doors of his school when my mom and I ran away from Venezuela for political reasons.

I will never have the right words to say thank you to Maestro Vladimir. During my time in Miami, apart from learning a lot, he gave me the opportunity to perform professionally in his company.

If you know Maestro Vladimir well, he barely has time to sit down and talk, as he does so many things at the same time. Sometimes we thought there were two Vladimirs! 

Here is the record of our conversation:

CS: How did you get started in Ballet, Maestro? How old were you when you started?

VI: "I started when I was 7 years old in Russia, and it was not a big ballet school, it was actually a folk dance school. After I turned 11, I got into the Choreographic School of Voronezh, near Moscow, where I graduated with a degree as Ballet Artist in 1973."

CS: Do you remember your first pas de deux class?

VI: "Yes, I remember, I was many many years ago. But it was very interesting because the teacher came from Bolshoi Theatre… that I remember really well."

CS: During your whole career as a dancer and teacher, have you had any major injuries?

VI: "Thank God I never had big injuries. But recently my back and my knees are damaged. But that is because of years and years of teaching."

CS: Do you remember any fun moment before going on stage or during any performance?

VI: "Well if you work in a theater, anything can happen. I remember that one time we were dancing Spartacus and we had lots of quick changes. In the men’s dressing room, there was always a TV where we could watch what was happening onstage. So all of us kept watching the performance, and then we noticed that there were people missing on stage... it was us that were not there!"

CS: How is your daily routine?

VI: "I always have to be watching for everything that happens here in the studio, for both the school and company. And this includes taking care of the repertoire, bring new choreographers, choreograph myself, fix the costumes, decide what we are going to do, teach classes and many more things. So yes, it is busy, but I like it."

CS: Do you have any favorite ballet?

VI: "I like all the classics, but mostly the Russian versions from Mariinsky Theatre. I also love Nuestros Valses, by Vicente Nebrada, which is a very fun ballet to dance."

CS: For you, what is the most important thing a dancer has to have?

VI: "For me, everything is important: height, physical conditions, quality, and musicality. But the most important things is that he or she is a hard worker. This is a complete combo for me."

CS: And finally, do you have any additional advice for those young ballet dancers?

VI: "Find a good school in where you can learn. There are few schools out there that teach very well. Also, never stop trusting on your teachers, that is extremely important."