Dreamcatcher Series. Interview with Professional Ballet Dancer and Teacher, Natalia Kremen

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Today Mindfood Magpie have the honour and pleasure of welcoming one of our inspirations to our magpie nest – and my goodness, can this one teach us a thing or two about flying gracefully! Not only is she a dream catcher, she’s also a dream creator and as lovely as she is talented. 

It’s my pleasure to introduce you to the very beautiful, supremely gifted, ex English National Ballet and Bolshoi Academy dancer-turned-teacher and owner of the incredible Natalia Kremen Ballet School, Natalia Kremen herself! 

It’s such a pleasure to chat to her and share her remarkable journey with you guys. I think you’re going to fall in love with her! 

One of my favourite quotes of hers demonstrates her sweet personality perfectly; When she was asked who’d be in her dream audience, if she could pick anyone at all, she answered that it would “be great to dance in front of my teachers, family and friends so that they could see that their work, help and support didn’t go to waste”.

It certainly didn’t, she’s had an absolute dream of a ballet career and is now helping others on their road to emulating her success. 

If you have any interest in ballet, then you must explore her school and what they offer further. Check out the end of the interview for some exciting news for any ballet student! 

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MM : Welcome, lovely Natalia! Tell us about how it all began? What’s your first dance memory? 

NK : My father was a professional ballet dancer. My parents would often take me to see ballet performances, competitions and rehearsals. I always loved the idea of becoming a professional ballet dancer, but at that time, I didn’t really realise how much effort and hard work it would take. My father didn’t want me to follow his footsteps, but I got accepted to The Bolshoi Academy very easily and that was it! 

My First happy dance memories were with Lavrovsky Academy on the stage of the Stanislavsky Theatre. I was dancing little yellow bird in “4 Seasons” by B. Myagkov! 

MM: When you were 10 years old, you began training with The Bolshoi Ballet. Do you think you realised the magnitude of that achievement at the time? 

NK: Not really, but from the age of 11, my life changed and my family and I had to sacrifice a lot to help me with the journey. It was a lot of tears, as well as good and sweet times. At 15 years old I joined the Lavrovsky Academy were I felt more at home, I just loved the artistic and supportive atmosphere of the school. 

I started very quickly performing soloist roles at the company (Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre) when I joined straight after the school. It was a challenging but interesting time. I had roles which were created for me and learned a lot from my teachers (G. Krapivina, N. Sorokina).

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MM: Fast forward a few years and you’re a dancer with the English National Ballet. What was that transition like? 

NK: It wasn’t easy, again. The style, classes and approach were very different. Plus I didn’t speak English at that time. It was a huge pleasure and honour to work with Wayne Eagling and perform very interesting ballets like Manon, Carmen, Suite en Blanc, Etudes and many others, which we never had in Moscow repertoire at that time. 

MM: Can you pick a favourite role within the ENB and outside the company, and why? 

NK: I would say my most memorable performance with ENB was Swan Lake in Versailles and Carmen by Roland Petit. I have also performed in many different Gala Concerts outside ENB company. Some of the most memorable roles were the roles Juliette, Raymonda and Giselle. 

MM: Did you always know you would make it or did you have moments of doubt?

NK: I always had doubts as a child, I was very insecure… I had a tough journey, but with time I learned how not to show my emotions, how to stay calm and go through the hard days. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help and support of my family and my teachers. And in the end the results were worth it all. 

MM: What was the biggest challenge you faced on your road to becoming a successful ballerina?

NK: To stay focussed, to believe in myself when everything was against me, to ignore jealousy or unfairness and keep going towards my dream and goals. 

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MM: What was the best and the worst thing about being a professional ballerina? 

NK: Having a dream and following it was the best thing. Worst- to avoid focussing on the bad, you shouldn’t allow anyone or anything to spoil the journey. 

MM: When and why did you decide to transition into teaching children?

NK: I completed a 5 years course in RATI (GITIS) while I was still performing in Moscow. At that time I wasn’t sure it was for me. My first students changed my mind, though, and I fell in love with the fact that you can help others to reach their dream and teach them how to avoid your mistakes. And of course, pass on your experience and knowledge. There are a lot of responsibilities in teaching. 

MM: Were you apprehensive about making the change in career from full-time ballerina to teacher? 

NK: It was surprisingly very easy and natural for me. No-one and nothing forced me to make this decision. So I am very happy about it and have no regrets whatsoever. I love teaching almost more than dancing. You give away more as a teacher. And I love it! 

MM: What dance method do you teach and why? 

NK: Vaganova method. All my teachers were trained with this method. It’s the best, in my opinion, to give the right, most solid foundation.

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MM: What’s your school philosophy?  

NK: Supporting students with different backgrounds and giving them an opportunity of reaching their dream or helping them to become a professional dancer. It requires a lot of individual attention, that’s why our classes are small. Quality of education, having extremely professional ballet staff, a unique programme, being able to provide personal attention – these are the most important things for me. 

MM: Your show ‘Alice’s Dream and other Ballet Adventures’ is the most beautiful children’s dance show I have ever seen. Huge congratulations! It included The world Premiere of ‘Alice’s Dream’ created by the renowned choreographer, Jenna Lee, as well as your own choreography. Here’s a hard question: What do you prefer… choreography, performing or teaching? 

NK: Thank you! No doubts – teaching. 

MM: Your girls have had the opportunity to meet and perform at the same event as superstars of the stage, like Bolshoi Ballet prima ballerina Evgenia Obraztsova, and before royalty. How does it make you feel to be able to give the girls these opportunities? 

NK: It means a lot to me. That’s why I work almost without a day off. I want my students to have the best possible education, support and inspirational opportunities like no other schools can offer.

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MM: Your school has only been open a relatively short time, compared to more established London ballet schools, yet your students have had some magnificent successes. Successes that most teachers only dream of in their whole teaching career. Tell us about some of your alumni and where they are now? 

NK: This year we will be celebrating our 5th anniversary. Our first school alumni Polina Bacon (school scholar) has joined Perm Ballet Academy and I am very proud of her achievements. Our NK Ballet Foundation is supporting talented students like Polina and giving full and part scholarships. Our students are already winning different competitions and were invited to Royal Ballet Junior, Mid and Senior Associates, Elmhurst Full Time Ballet School, Summer programmes in Royal Ballet School, Paris Opera, Princess Grace Academy in Monaco, Bolshoi and Vaganova Academy and many others. I am very proud of the achievements of my students as they have been invited to perform with Mariinsky and the Bolshoi Ballet in London. It’s great to see the success of your students. 

MM: Why would you encourage parents to enrol their children in dance classes?

NK: Discipline, hard work, motivation, the opportunity to share the professional stage with leading dancers of nowadays, strength of character, musicality, concentration, beautiful posture and a strong body, plus the opportunity to live an exciting and interesting life. That’s just a few things that a child can learn during our ballet classes. 

MM: What do you do to relax? Do you have any hobbies?

NK: Spending rare time off with my family, husband (Natalia is married to Pascal Lavorel, who owns his own successful florists, Pascal Lavorel LTD, which provides exquisite flower arrangements for hotels, restaurants, weddings and even the royal family!) and Cookie, my dog. When I visit my parents in law in France I always go horse riding. It’s my favourite hobby! 

MM: You’ve done some television work. The most memorable for me is when you played the wonderful Anna Pavlova in Mr Selfridge! I adored that scene! Was that fun and would you like to do more television work? 

NK: It was unforgettable and very special experience indeed. I would do more, but only if I had some free time and if it was something really interesting for me. 

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MM: What are your dreams for the future? 

NK: In Russia we have a saying that you shouldn’t share your secret dreams, otherwise they won’t come true… 😉

MM: What tips would you give an aspiring ballerina? 

NK: Work hard, find the best possible professional teacher. I have seen a lot in my life, it’s a big challenge to find the right teacher, who will believe in you and will always be there to support you. Lastly, NEVER give up.

MM: What’s next for NKBS Where can people find out more about your wonderful school? 

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NK: On our website www.nkballetschool.com 

I am starting a new project called “NK Ballet Lab” which will be open for all students, even for those outside our school. Famous dancers and the greatest teachers of today will be giving unique one day workshops. First dates are already confirmed; 7th of January Andrey Klemm ( Paris Opera), 14 Of January Isabelle Ciaravolla (Paris Opera and Conservatoire).

Connect with Natalia

Follow NKBS on Facebook https://m.facebook.com/profile.php?id=213478738721914

Follow NKBS on Instagram Instagram.com/nk_balletschool

A small taster of what NKBS have to offer http://nkballetschool.com/blog/school-promotional-video.html

Thanks for visiting our magpie nest, Natalia! It’s been a real pleasure!