Vanessa Zahorian

Soaring in Don Quixote at San Francisco Ballet

What do you get when you combine diamond-strong technique with old-Hollywood beauty and glamour? San Francisco Ballet principal Vanessa Zahorian, who has been one of the Bay Area company’s leading ladies for a decade. Trained in both the Vaganova style (at the Kirov Academy of Ballet in Washington, D.C.) and Balanchine technique (at Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet), Pennsylvania-born Zahorian apprenticed with Russia’s Maryinsky Ballet before joining SFB’s corps in 1997. She quickly rose to the rank of principal, and has since danced nearly every major classical lead and originated roles in ballets by Jorma Elo, Yuri Possokhov and Helgi Tomasson. Zahorian recently married fellow SFB principal Davit Karapetyan (who proposed to her after they performed Romeo and Juliet together!). Catch her dancing with SFB this month.  —Margaret Fuhrer

Dearest Vanessa,

Right now, you get corrections from your teachers and think it’s

the worst thing in the world. You think it means that you’re a

bad student or dancer, and you often end up getting emotional in

the corner of the room. But eventually you’ll realize that these corrections are good for you, and that they’re given because your teachers want you to improve and be the best that you can be. I wish I still received those corrections today! In the professional ballet world, you’ll have to figure things out on your own.

Family and friends are incredibly important. In order to get through some of life’s most challenging encounters, you’ll need the help and guidance of your parents and loved ones. Their encouragement will keep you going. Throughout life’s struggles and challenges, they’ll be there to guide you along your path.

Last but not least: If you put your mind, heart and soul into something, you will never be a failure. Any field or path you choose to follow is worthy, as long as you strive to become the best you can be. No one can take that away from you; in fact, others can learn from you.

Vanessa Zahorian

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Photo by Joe Toreno. Hair by Marina Migliaccio and makeup by Lisa Chamberlain, both for the Rex Agency.

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