What was your first job?
It was in Saint Petersburg at the Mikhailovsky Company. But, earlier, I had signed on to jobs in Munich, at the Bayerische Staatsbalett. Timing for auditions are different in Europe and in Russia and when I was offered a job in Russia, I took it. Breaking the contract in Munich was not popular. But the dream had to be tried!
Ella has just turned 19 when she starts her employment.
You have now lived in St. Petersburg for a long time. What was your life like there?
The first year, life was tough and hard. It was a harsher atmosphere, everyone is more straightforward, especially in the theatre but also in the community. I think Russians would like to test who you are. If you can pass the test, the press releases a little bit. In the theatre there was an extremely high tempo and, of course, fierce competition. On the positive side: a bustling big city, lots to explore. Challenging tasks at the theatre, like Giselle for example!
What about the language, do you speak Russian?
Yes, I speak Russian. International dancers like me got Russian lessons. There were maybe six of us in the beginning, today there are more.
How was your housing situation?
At first, I stayed at the boarding house for a few months, that opportunity existed for both opera singers and dancers. But after a few months, in the middle of the first season, I moved to an apartment. There are homes to be found in St. Petersburg, the market is not like in Stockholm, but it's a lot about contacts.
Is it true that an injury prevented you for a period?
You probably mean when I was in the Vaganova School. I lacked the solid foundation I had needed at the time and with sloping floors and heavy tasks I overworked my hip. The training was solid with repertoire and character dance (professional folk dance) which was enormously demanding. I had an injury and I went home to rest and rehabilitate, but a lot was lost that season. It was my first major setback. I was home about six weeks and could barely walk. Then I was depressed for the first time in my life. Everything had gone so well, I had gotten attention at school, so it hit me hard.