Fairy-like and technically flawless, Larissa Ponomarenko is a ballerina’s ballerina. She began her studies at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, winning third prize at the first Vaganova Ballet Competition in 1988, and went on to join the Donetsk Ballet Company in her native Ukraine. After brief stints as a guest artist with Tulsa Ballet and Ballet Mississippi, Larissa landed at Boston Ballet in 1993. Since then she has become one of Boston’s most beloved ballerinas, dancing nearly every principal role in the company’s repertoire. Her nuanced interpretation of Marguerite in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias even won her a nomination for the International Ballet Prize at Benois de la Danse in 2005. —Margaret Fuhrer
I would like to start by saying, “Thank you.”
Though I consider myself a modest person, I must admit you are a very good student (the kind of student I would wish to work with if I were to move into the field of teaching). You are obedient and self-disciplined, absorbing details and attentive to corrections. You never miss class, and you take good care of your body. You spend a lot of time in the theater watching all the classical ballets in the Kirov repertory. Your analysis of the interpretations of different dancers has helped me become the artist I am today.
All of it, in combination, I believe, allows you to get the most out of the great training your ballet school [the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia] has to offer. This is why I would like to express my gratitude to you, my student self.
But I do wish that you would be more daring and confident in everything. It wouldn’t hurt to be more curious about different genres and forms of art—to explore more outside of the ballet. And find the time to continue your piano lessons! You don’t have much interest in it now, but you have talent and that is precious.
Finally, I want you to add more of a sense of humor and laughter to all your hard work, to love yourself, and to live every minute of your life to the fullest.
16-year-old Larissa performing the Bluebird variation from The Sleeping Beauty at the Vaganova Academy. Photo: courtesy of Boston Ballet