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Diana Vishneva (Dancer)

Principal Dancer

Recipient of the State Prize of Russia.

Prizewinner at the International Ballet Competition (Lausanne, 1994).

Won the Benois de la danse prize (1995), the Golden Sophit St Petersburg theatre prize (1996), the Baltika prize (1998), the Golden Mask, the highest theatrical prize of Russia (2001), the Dance of Europe prize (2002) and the Ballet magazine prize (2003). 

Diana Vishneva was born in Leningrad (now St Petersburg). She began to study dance at the age of six. At the age of eleven she entered the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, from which she graduated in 1995 (class of Professor Lyudmila Kovaleva). In 1994 Vishneva won her first victory at the International Young Ballet Dancers’ Competition in Lausanne where she took both the Gold Medal and the Grand Prix. This feat has never been repeated by any other competitor since that day. In 1995, while still a student at the Academy of Russian ballet, Diana Vishneva became a trainee at the Mariinsky Theatre and performed the title role in Cinderella as well as the roles of Kitri in Don Quixote and Masha in The Nutcracker. Ever since, she has performed lead roles in the international ballet repertoire including works by Petipa and Fokine, Balanchine and Neumeier, Ashton and MacMillan, Alonso and Grigorovich, Béjart and Petit and Preljocaj and Ratmansky at the world’s great theatres in addition to Nureyev, Makarova, Malakhov and Bart’s versions of classical ballets.

In 1996 Diana Vishneva made her debut at the Bolshoi Theatre of Russia as Kitri and she continues to appear there in lead roles in the ballets Swan Lake, Giselle, The Sleeping Beauty, Lost Illusions.

In 1999, together with the Mariinsky Ballet Company she gave her first performance at the Metropolitan Opera, while in 2000 she made her debut at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, as Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty).

Diana Vishneva’s international career as a guest soloist began in 2001 with her performance together with the Bayerisches Staatsballett in Manon and at the Teatro alla Scala with the ballet The Sleeping Beauty. In 2002 she made her debut at the Berliner Staatsballett (Giselle and La Bayadère). The same year witnessed her Opéra de Paris debut in Don Quixote, where she later went on to give highly acclaimed portrayals of lead roles in the ballets Rubies (from Jewels), Manon and Swan Lake. Since 2003 Vishneva has been a Principal Dancer at American Ballet Theatre. Her repertoire at ABT includes Giselle, La Bayadère, Swan Lake, Romeo and Juliet, Don Quixote, The Sleeping Beauty, Manon, Sylvia, The Dream and The Lady of the Camellias among other works. In the 2010-2011 season she appeared in works presented by the companies of Édouard Lock (Canada) and Martha Graham (USA).

Diana Vishneva’s work has brought the ballerina numerous awards and prizes, among them the title of People’s Artist of Russia, the State Prize of Russia, the Divine prize, the Benois de la danse award, a Golden Sofit, the Spirit of Dance prize in the category in the category “Queen of Dance,” the prize as best dancer of Europe, six Golden Masks and the Ballerina of the Decade prize.

On Diana’s initiative, 2010 saw the establishment of the Diana Vishneva Foundation, a cultural and charitable organisation that works in Russia, the USA and Japan. The main tasks of the foundation are to increase access to ballet for all social classes, to promote it, establish new dance projects and assist young performers and retired performers.



1994 - Gold Medal and Grand-Prix at the International Ballet Competition in Lausanne

1995 - Divine prize

1996 - Benois de la danse prize for the role of Kitri in the ballet Don Quixote

1996 - Golden Sofit prize for her solo role in George Balanchine’s ballet Symphony in C

1998 - Baltika prize for “Best Duet” (Diana Vishneva and Farukh Ruzimatov)

2000 - State Prize of the Russian Federation for lead roles in Mariinsky Theatre productions of The Sleeping Beauty, Manon, Le Jeune homme et la mort and Schéhérazade

2001 - Golden Mask prize for the lead role in George Balanchine’s ballet Rubies

2002 - Dancer of the Year prize from Dance Europe magazine

2003 - Recipient of the Spirit of Dance prize in the category “Queen of Dance”, awarded on an annual basis by Ballet magazine

2007 - Honored Artist of the Russian Federation for her achievements in the arts

2009 - Recipient of the Golden Mask, Russia’s most prestigious theatre prize, in three categories: “Best Female Role in Ballet”, “Best Ballet” and “Critics’ Prize” for Sergei Danilian’s Russo-American project Diana Vishneva: Beauty in Motion

2010 - Recipient of the Ballerina of the Decade prize from the Organizational Committee of the international ballet gala project Stars of the 21st Century

2011 - Golden Sofit for the lead role in Angelin Preljocaj’s ballet Le Parc


Repertoire includes:
Giselle (Giselle);
Pas de quatre (Fanni Cerrito);
Le Corsaire (Gulnare);
La Bayadere (Nikia);
"Paquita" Grand pas (variation);
The Sleeping Beauty (Princess Aurora);
The Nutcracker (Masha);
Swan Lake (Odette-Odile, Pas de trois);
Raymonda (Raymonda, Clemance);
Don Quixote (Kitri);
Fokine s Scheherazade (Zobeide), Firebird (Firebird), Le Spectre de la rose;
Romeo and Juliet (Juliet);
Balanchine s Apollo (Terpsichore), Symphony in C (3rd Movement), Tchaikovsky Pas de Deux, Jewels (Rubies), Ballet Imperial;
Robbins‘ In the Night (1st movement);
Auber‘s Grand pas classique;
Roland Petit‘s Le Jeune homme et la mort, Carmen (Carmen);
MacMillan‘s Manon (Manon);
Neumeier‘s Spring and Fall, Now and Then, The Sounds of Empty Pages;
Alexei Ratmansky‘s Le Poe me de l‘extase, Cinderella (Cinderella);
William Forsythe‘s Steptext. In 2001, Diana Vishneva made her debut at the Bayerische Staatsballett in MacMillan‘s Manon and at the Teatro alla Scala (Milan) in The Sleeping Beauty.

In 2002, she made her debut at the Opera de Paris in Nureyev‘s Don Quixote.

Guest artist with the Staatsoper Unter den Linden (Berlin) since 2002, where her repertoire includes Giselle (Giselle), Nikia (La Bayadere), Odette-Odile (Swan Lake, Fricka and Brungilda in Maurice Bejart‘s Ring um den Ring



A word from Diana Vishneva

September 2010 marked fifteen years of my career as a ballet dancer at the Mariinsky Theatre. For a professional classical ballerina that is a long enough period to understand the difficulties of the profession, to understand the role this kind of art plays in public life and, at the same time, to make a respected name for myself in the ballet world.

And today, using that experience, I would like to say and do something for the arts that amounts to more than just dancing the ballet repertoire. Unfortunately, it is difficult for one person to solve big and serious problems alone.

That is why I have taken the step of setting up the Diana Vishneva Foundation for the Coordinated Development of Ballet which, I hope, will unite organizations’ and individuals’ efforts and abilities to achieve the foundation’s cultural, charitable and creative goals.

At this stage, it is proposed that the main areas of the foundation’s activities will involve:

1. Improving access to ballet for all social classes, including children who study ballet and dance, retired performers and ballet-lovers alike.
It must be admitted that today ballet has become a privilege for the wealthy few. And, in my opinion, this is happening because of a drop in the prestige of ballet as a profession. 2. Targeted support for ballet dancers and retired performers.

Accidents that can lead to the temporary loss of income or even having to abandon the profession altogether are a tragedy for any ballet dancer. There is, at present, no single system to help dancers in such circumstances. I think a personal appeal from the Diana Vishneva Ballet Foundation to potential sponsors could help resolve this problem.
Many once illustrious and acclaimed dancers are, sadly, today forgotten and experiencing great difficulties. Finding feasible means of helping these people is also an important task, and one that I feel can be dealt with.

3. Organizing and producing new ballet projects.
Very often I have to work with foreign ballet companies and choreographers. I would like to point out that experimentation and a variety of genres form a good stimulus for the development and allure of ballet. Russia is experiencing a lack of good contemporary choreographers, and there are problems organizing new ballet programs. We already have experience of organizing these programs, such as the premiere of the Russo-American project Diana Vishneva: Beauty in Motion, which in 2009 won Russia’s most prestigious theatre prize, the Golden Mask, in three categories.

Photos © Marc Haegeman. All rights reserved. 

Diana Vishneva official website

"Anna Karenina" ballet at the Mariinsky theatre
About This Video
Starring Diana Vishneva and Ulyana Lopatkina

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