Diana Ionescu in „Dornröschen“ Ch. Marcia Haydée © Stuttgarter Ballett

On her way to the top: Diana Ionescu conquered the Stuttgart Ballett stage

The ballerina from Constanţa in Romania studied at Tanzakademie Zurich until 2017; she won prizes in Lausanne, at the Youth America Grand Prix and at Tanzolymp Berlin. At the age of 17, she joined Stuttgart Ballet, where she danced the title role in “Sleeping Beauty” already in her third season.

What made you chose Stuttgart Ballet? Do you like story ballets?

Yes! I always knew Alicia Amatriain and Friedemann Vogel, and of course when I was very young, I always dreamed to meet them, I couldn’t imagine to actually work with them. My teachers recommended that I have a look into this company, because they know me as a person and they knew I would fit here.

Is it what you expected?

Yes, it’s even better! I never expected that I would feel like a family here. I felt support from my colleagues from the beginning.

You were in many modern pieces already, you danced Jiří Kylián and Akram Khan. How is the experience to discover new ways of moving?

It was hard in the beginning, I would say. Of course it’s cool that we work with many different styles, but working with the actual choreographer is different. A few years ago, I was doing modern and I was enjoying dancing, but more because I could move however I felt, and it’s more free. But now that I’m starting to grow older, I understand the meaning a bit more. I understand the deeper feeling of the choreography more.

Diana Ionescu in „Schwanensee“ Ch. John Cranko © Carlos Quezada

Do you train modern a lot at Zurich Tanzakademie? Because Oliver Matz and Steffi Scherzer were pure classical dancers…

We did both. It’s a very good school. I am so grateful that I went to that school. Maybe I didn’t understand then, but now I understand. And I just want to go back there and hug them. All the hard work in school pays off now.

How is ballet life in Corona times?

Of course it was hard for everybody in the beginning. But maybe we had time to reflect on the mental aspect of our work. I am really grateful that we already started the season in summer. Of course I would like to dance more, but I understand that our health is more important, because especially as a dancer, you have to be 100% healthy.

IT.FLOPPY.RABBIT. Ch. Katarzyna Kozielska © Stuttgarter Ballett

You did Aurora in “Sleeping Beauty” in February, one of the most difficult roles for a ballerina in the classics. How was the experience?

It was really wonderful. The whole work process. Also I knew the ballet well because I danced almost every other role there could be. I was very nervous, but my friends, the Princes and Friedemann all helped me so much! I could feel the energy of the corps so much! I really felt like a princess!

“Mayerling” Ch. Kenneth MacMillan
© Stuttgarter Ballett

There is very famous ballerina from Romania: Is Alina Cojocaru a role model for young dancers in your home country, is she famous?

Oh yes! I never got a chance to meet her. Every little girl knows her. She is definitely a role model for everybody, and I respect her a lot.

Any dream role?

Of course Kitri and Giselle, and one of them was “Sleeping Beauty”… But ever since I joined the company, I think it’s Tatiana – it is so amazing! It’s a dream role.

Interview by Angela Reinhardt