The first time that I heard about Maestro Vladimir Issaev was at my first ballet competition in Caracas, in 2010. Perhaps I heard his name before near the Teresa Carreno Theatre, since, based on the Venezuelan ballet history, Maestro Issaev worked many years with the national ballet company alongside Maestro Vicente Nebrada during the golden era of ballet in the country.
During that competition, Maestro Vladimir was the principal judge and the master class teacher. Little by little I began to understand the important position that he has and the appreciation that many people have on him. In between the rehearsals, a lot of former dancers from Teresa Carreno Theatre arrived at the place looking and wanting to say hello to their Maestro, telling him how much they missed him and how important was his support on their careers. This was incredible!
The next year (2011) Maestro gave me the scholarship to participate in the Summer Intensive of Russian Technique from Arts Ballet Theatre of Florida. I got to fly to Miami for a month to take this summer course and it was brilliant. What a warm welcome I got! And the world class teachers were incredible! But nothing was compared to my actual move to Miami in 2013 when he opened once again the doors of his school when my mother and I ran away from Venezuela for political reasons. Then, I noticed what kind of person he is: a hard worker, passionate about what he does, dedicated to every single one of his students, careful for his company dancers, creative, very detailed with his productions and also with a lot of sense of humor. Maestro takes his time to help and correct every dancer that needs help and he can even stay until very late in the studio, working. A lot of times we think that he can be in two places at the same time!
Maestro Vladimir is a person worthy of admiration. A lot of places look for him so they can have master classes; and he is also requested by many artistic directors around the world including Japan, Spain, Peru, Poland, Mexico and recently China. I will never have the right words to say thank you. He, along with his wife, Ms. Ruby Romero, received me with open arms. Here I have an interview from a few months ago. It is short since his time to talk was actually very limited!
Once more, I feel very grateful for my training with him. THANK YOU, Maestro. Here is the record of our interview:
How did you get started in Ballet, Maestro? How old were you when you started?
-I started when I was 7 years old in Russia, and it was not a big ballet school, it was actually a folk dance school. After I turned 11, I got into the Choreographic School of Voronezh, near Moscow, where I graduated with a degree of “Ballet Artist” in 1973.
Do you remember your first pas de deux class?
-Yes, I remember, I was many many years ago. But it was very interesting because the teacher came from Bolshoi Theatre… that I remember really well.
In all your years in the ballet world, have you ever had a difficulty? Maybe a step that was difficult for you? For example, turns are my difficulty.
-Well with turns I never had problems. I remember that in school, before my graduation I used to do nine pirouettes and finished on balance! The trick with difficult steps is to work hard and practice it every day until you get it.
During your whole career as a dancer and teacher, have you had any major injuries?
-Thank God I never had big injuries. But recently my back and my knees are damaged. But that is because of years and years of teaching.
Do you remember any fun moment before going on stage or during any performance?
-Well if you work in a theater, anything can happen. I remember that one time we were dancing Spartacus and we had quick changes. In the men’s dressing room there was always a TV where we could watch the current performance live. So all of us kept watching the performance, and then we noticed that there were people missing on stage, and it was ourselves!
How is your daily routine?
-I always have to be watching for everything, both the school and company. And that includes taking care of the repertoire, bring new choreographers, choreograph myself, fix the costumes, decide what we are going to do, teach classes and many more things.
Do you have any favorite ballet?
I like all the classics, but mostly the Russian versions from Mariinsky Theatre. I also love Nuestros Valses, by Vicente Nebrada; which is a very fun ballet to dance.
For you, what is the most important thing a dancer has to have?
-For me everything is important: height, physical conditions, and qualities, musicality, if he or she is a hard worker; if the dancer is pretty, that also counts. This is a complete combo for me.
And finally, do you have any additional advice for those young ballet dancers?
-The most important: find a good school in where you can learn, there are few out there. Also, you always have to trust our teachers, that is extremely important.