• Kristyn Burtt

Ballerina Margarita Simonova Discovers A New Love For Dance After Starring In ‘The Bolshoi’

Updated: May 4


When it comes to ballet movies, there are a few great ones that come to mind: The Turning Point, White Nights and yes, cult favorite Center Stage. It’s time to get ready for a new coming-of-age story, The Bolshoi, which has been a huge hit in Russia and the Baltic States. More: How Kurt Froman Took Jennifer Lawrence Through Ballet Boot Camp For ‘Red Sparrow’ The story follows a scrappy young girl whose lifelong goal of becoming a ballerina is coming true, but she faces incredible obstacles along the way. Dance Dish had the opportunity to interview Margarita Simonova, a leading dancer in corps de ballet at the Polish National Ballet and star of The Bolshoi. Her journey from the dance studio to the lead character in a feature film is a fascinating one. The Bolshoi was filmed about two and a half years ago and took eight months to shoot, so it’s been a long ride with the film. Simonova was cast as the lead character of Yulka after a long search. The actress playing the role had to be a strong actress, dancer and needed to speak Russian. “They were searching for someone for a year and a half. When they didn’t find anyone in Russia, they had to search in different countries,” she explains. “They found me on the Polish National Ballet’s website, thanks to my Russian last name.”

Simonova had never acted in a film before, so this was a big leap to the silver screen. It was also a dream come true because she was able to perform at the Bolshoi Theatre, where they shot all of the stage scenes. “It was a lot of hard work on those scenes, we got fewer days in the Bolshoi Theatre than we expected. We did everything in six days, but we originally expected [to shoot there for] 15 days,” Simonova shares. “I felt like my big dream came true. It doesn’t matter that it was dancing in the movie, it was an incredible feeling to step on that stage.” More: ABT's Christine Shevchenko Dives Into 'Of Love and Rage' The most challenging aspect of working on the film was keeping her muscles warm in between scenes — that’s when dancing and movies work opposite of each other. “I don’t even want to think about that,” she laughs. “It was extremely hard since our shooting day was about 15 hours. We had to stay warm that whole time, so I was totally dead after this. It’s two very hard professions all at once.” This role allowed Simonova to play classical ballet roles that she hasn’t done before and she related well to her character, Yulka. “I loved this role because I could watch this profession, not from the inside, but the outside. I lived a different life in the ballet world, but we still all have the same situations. I was able to get a second chance and do ballet in a different way.” She also appreciated that director Valery Todorovsky asked for the dancers’ input to make a realistic film about Russian ballet. “I don’t like ballet movies about my profession usually, but I love The Bolshoi. We would tell him when a moment didn’t ring true,” she shares. “The director listened to us. The movie wasn’t just created by the script, but also by our dance tips.” More: Tiler Peck Steps Outside Her Comfort Zone in Hulu’s ‘Ballet Now’ After she finished filming, Simonova went back to her job at the Polish National Ballet. It was a transition she found a bit difficult after spending so much time on a film set. “It was hard for me because I liked the movie process. It surprised me that I found something else outside of ballet. It was exciting,” she says. “Ballet isn’t as open-minded as the film world. I felt like I was back in the cage again when I returned. I was so free when I was shooting.” However, doing The Bolshoi also helped her rediscover her first love — ballet. “I enjoy dancing more after shooting the film. I don’t know why, maybe I understood acting more? All of my dance roles that I had done before, I understood it better.” Simonova expressively explains. “I love to interpret it differently. The work isn’t the same. I feel different onstage.” Simonova is looking forward to future acting roles, even though she’s continuing with her dance career. “I would love to continue my career in acting,” she says. “For now, I am sticking with ballet. I love it. In my mind, I will do something with my acting in the future.”

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