Maia Makathelli: Trying to reach perfection


MAIA MAKHATELI looks for it every day. Working very much on details. And being as productive as possible in rehearsals. The wonderful Principal dancer at the Dutch National Ballet talks about her life and her aims, explaining why stress never worries her. And why she feels like resting while executing the thirty-two fouettes

by Alessandro Bizzotto

It looks like Maia Makhateli knows what she wants. It really does.
It doesn’t take weeks to plan an interview with her. In spite of being one of the busiest Principals at the Dutch National Ballet, she answers my messages quickly and with propositional attitude. Furthermore, sharing a couple of meals with her is enough to understand she is not just a ballerina of innate polish, but a honest and straightforward artist as well.
You can immediately argue she is a perfectionist. In a positive way. As she doesn't lack sense of humour.
She was in her very early twenties when she left the Birmingham Royal Ballet to join the leading Dutch company as a Grand sujet. Becoming a Principal three years later.
Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, she grew up in the ballet industry. Her father manages a ballet school in US. Her brother David is a former Principal of the Royal Ballet. Ballet seems to have been a destiny for her.

Maia Makhateli © Dutch National Ballet

Is it true? Has ballet been your destiny?

I think it is true. I was born to do ballet, in a way. I have never imagined anything else in my future, I guess I really couldn't have done anything but ballet. I started attending my first ballet school when I was 9, but I have been dancing around in my home since when I was 3.

You finished the ballet school in the US. Has American technique influenced your style?

The ballet school I attended in America, in Colorado, was run by German Zamuel and Valentina Mukhanova. Two great Russian teachers that had previously taught in UK as well. My training was a mix of Russian and American, so. They have given me something, I think… but I cannot tell you my style is American. My whole training was Vaganova-based. I have always tried to take the best out of each style I was taught, in any case.

Maia Makhateli in 'Cinderella' © Angela Sterling

Even as far as Balanchine is concerned? You danced a lot of Balanchine last season.

I have always loved his ballet. I adore the way movements flow in his creations, they need a specific way of using and moving your body… and it looks even quite easy to me, today, after dancing many of his choreographies, such as “Tarantella”, “Apollo”, “Theme and Variations”, “Violin Concerto”… I never had problems in adapting my technique to the style of Balanchine’s ballet. That feeling of challenge has always been thrilling! And I could say it made me grow as a dancer. I still remember very well that sense of sheer joy, when I danced “Jewels”… I even had the opportunity to dance leading roles in both “Rubies” and “Diamonds”, which doesn't happen that often. They are completely different, of course, but they made me feel so happy and satisfied.

What was it like moving to Amsterdam?

Maia Makhateli in 'Tarantella' Pas de Deux with Remi Wörtmeyer © Angela Sterling

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