Born in Moscow, Maria Kochetkova trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School for eight years before dancing with The Royal Ballet and English National Ballet in London. She joined the San Francisco Ballet as a Principal Dancer in 2007 and has performed as a guest artist with the Bolshoi and Stanislavsky Theaters in Moscow, the Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky Theaters in St. Petersburg, ABT in New York and the Tokyo Ballet in Japan. Kochetkova also performed the Grand Pas de Deux in San Francisco Ballet’s Nutcracker which was broadcast by PBS in 2008 and won the solo gold medal in the NBC series Superstars of Dance which was watched by over 10 million viewers.

You grew up in Russia do you still call it home?

As my family is in Moscow I still call it home, but I currently live in San Francisco which is my home away from home.

As a dancer you are very disciplined is their anywhere you truly turn off and escape to?

I find it’s hard to turn off from what I do after all these years of discipline. I know that the more I let myself relax the harder it’s going to be to get back in shape. But sometimes it’s necessary to take a day off and recharge for the week ahead. Also reading or watching a film are one of the easiest escapes for me. My dream is to have a library at home one day.

Do you travel with your ballet company? Is it like rock band on tour?

I don’t know. I never traveled with the rock band, but if they have to get up early every morning for class then I guess it probably is.

When you travel for work are you very protected or allowed to go out and explore?

I’m allowed to do whatever i want, but the problem is I don’t have time. Most of the time I try to make my trips as short as possible so I can get back for the rehearsals and shows in San Francisco and miss as little work as possible. Sometimes I wake up very early the morning after the show and explore before my flight back.

Do you have any rituals when traveling?

I have to make sure I bring enough pointe shoes

I pick all my outfits before I travel too

Whats the most important thing to you in the world?

Family. They are always there for me and help me when I have to make a hard decisions



Do people react differently to ballet in different cities?

The best audience without a doubt is in Japan, I always feel like I’m a movie star there. The toughest audience is in Russia; ballet has such a long history there and people have seen some of the greatest dancers and can be hard to please. Also being from Moscow I always feel like I have to prove myself and show what I’ve learned being away from home.

Where is the most inspiring place you have ever performed?

Arena di Verona. It was a first ballet performance there after I think 18 years! There are  15,000 people in the audience. It was huge and  It was just me and my partner on stage in front of  all these people. The energy I felt from the audience that night was incredible! Also being invited  back to dance at the Bolshoi theater 10 years after I left was very special. All my friends, family and teachers were there. Dancing on the Mariinsky stage where Anna Pavlova, Rudolph Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov used to dance. The theater is so old and has so much history!

Is your dancing inspired by things around you?

All the time I’m looking for inspiration. I was brought up with my parents constantly taking me to museums and theaters.  So when I travel I still try to go to museums . I hope one day I’ll be able to do my own projects where I will bring talented fashion designers, musicians and artists to work on a shows together like Diaghilev used to do with his Ballets Russes in Paris

What’s next?

I’m going to dance in Buenos Aires this month, then I’m going to Paris for the 21st Century Ballet Stars Gala and on tour to New York with San Francisco Ballet. Also a short film that I’m in and we have been working on for over a year is premiering in September.

Favourite things in the world?


An empty opera house, after everyone has gone home



My grandma’s cooking, apricot wine, Charbonnel et Walker pink marc de champagne truffles and Pelmeni of course


Place to wake up on a Sunday morning?

In my bed preferably knowing I don’t have to do the Sunday matinee show.


Place to fall asleep?

A cabin in a forest with a fireplace


Temperature ?

Warm and foggy


Place to write?

I don’t write



There are so many great views in San Francisco because of all the hills, but my favorite ones are looking back over the city from the Marin Headlands. St Petersburg during white nights. Looking over Covent Garden from the roof terrace at the Opera House. It’s very peaceful up there while life buzzes on the streets below



Orchestra warming up and tuning their instruments before the show.



Pine trees


Send A Voyage Postcard

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