Just after her 33rd birthday in 2004, English National Ballet Lead Principal Daria Klimentová told Czech journalist Martina Kubáňová, “I’ll hold out ’til I’m 35.” But as Daria explained later, at that time, she hadn’t danced with Vadim Muntagirov, and foreseen the impact he was to have on her life.
Ten years later, and still a big favourite with audiences, she has finally decided that the curtain should come down on what has been a sparkling career. Her final performance for English National Ballet comes on June 22, the day before her 43rd birthday, at the Royal Albert Hall alongside Vadim in Derek Deane’s production of “Romeo and Juliet”.
CriticalDance’s Charlotte Kasner asked a few questions about her feelings and plans for the future.
CK: Did you plan for your retirement? Is there for instance, a formal support mechanism within the Company, or are you perhaps planning to take up a re-training bursary?
DK: Yes, I planned to stop dancing. I have been seriously thinking about it from the beginning of this season. We have a dancer’s resettlement fund, that if you are in the Company for six years, they will financially support your retraining. I am just about to finish The Royal Ballet teachers’ course for dancers. So in July I will be qualified ballet teacher.
What’s it like now that it is actually happening?
Scary, very scary, but very exciting as well. I will get the chance to help other young dancers.
Will you stop dancing completely or do something else in the dance world?
I will stay in the dance world but I won’t dance myself anymore.
You are an accomplished photographer. Your work has been exhibited and published in many books and magazines. Perhaps you might pursue that as a career?
Yes, there is that option.
Did your career pan out as you expected or did your expectations change during your working life?
My career went much further than I expected. I didn’t think I will dance all the beautiful roles I did. I didn’t think I would be Prima ballerina the way I am. I did achieve much more than I thought.
What were your favourite roles and why?
I like “Swan Lake” but it took me years to get into it. Dramatic roles are always nice such as Manon, Marguérite in “Lady of the Camellias”, Juliet, Anna Karenina. I loved all those roles.
Are there any that you wish you had danced or any people that you wish you had worked with?
I did work with Jiří Kylián once but I wish I could have worked more with him. I love his natural movements. I would love to dance “Manon” with Vadim Muntagirov. I would love to dance “Dying Swan”.
Are there any roles that you are glad that you didn’t dance or that you felt weren’t suitable?
No. I learned something on every role.
Did dancing with Vadim Muntagirov change your perspective?
It made my career longer, he gives me energy, he inspires me, he makes me to enjoy every second of dancing.
Is finding a compatible partner a major help or hindrance to a dancer and how supportive are companies in terms of casting?
You cannot choose with who you want to dance, the director or choreographer chooses. It can be big problem for some dancers if they don’t get on. For me is very important to get on with my partner.
What advice would you give to your daughter regarding a career as a dancer?
She doesn’t want to be a dancer. I’m happy if she finds something she will love and enjoy doing. If she would want to be a dancer, I would tell her to enjoy every minute of it as it goes fast and its very short life.
After leaving English National Ballet in June, Daria will teach at the Prague International Masterclasses. After Prague, she will dance in a gala in Italy with Vadim Muntagirov and Ivan Putrov. She plans to remain based in London.
English National Ballet perform Derek Deane’s “Romeo and Juliet” in the round at the Royal Albert from June 11-22, 2014. For details, click here