Ballet dancer Anatoly Stavrov continues promoting Japanese-Russian cultural exchange in Sapporo

Anatoly Stavrov, 40 years old

Based in the city of Sapporo for 18 years, Anatoly Stavrov has continued to perform while also working to promote Japanese-Russian cultural exchange as an instructor and an artistic director. His efforts have even been recognized by the Russian government, and he was awarded a medal in late January by Foreign Minister Lavrov at the Consulate General of Russia in Sapporo. Stavrov expressed his exuberance, reporting, “Receiving this award is still but one step in the overall journey. I want to produce a multitude of dancers from Japan who can perform worldwide.”

Stavrov hails from Omsk in Western Siberia. After graduating at the top of his class from the Novosibirsk State Ballet School in Sapporo’s sister city of Novosibirsk in 1999, he performed at the Kirov Ballet before becoming a principal dancer at the Royal Danish Ballet. A knee injury in 2003 led him to briefly consider switching to the teaching track, but he was invited to a ballet school in Sapporo through connections he had forged in cultural exchange during his student years, and decided to make Sapporo his new base of activity.

Stavrov has sent approximately 80 students to study ballet abroad in Russia to date. Under the opinion that, “Japanese ballet is catching up to Russian ballet, and will most certainly surpass it,” he still continues to work devotedly at the instruction of ten students from 12 to 20 years old who want to be professional ballet dancers. During the “year of exchange between Japan and Russia” sponsored by both governments in 2018, Stavrov served in the important role of artistic director for a ballet performance in Russia’s second largest city of Saint Petersburg.

Last year he was almost completely unable to be active due to the coronavirus pandemic, but the Sapporo performance he served as artistic director for finally opened on February 5 of this year. The performance was “Sleeping Beauty”, which is the same title as when he first appeared on stage in Sapporo in 1999. The memory of being surprised at the nonstop applause during his performance 22 years ago, and the feeling of being unexpectedly moved by just how much the people of Japan love ballet, is still freshly alive for him as one of the main reasons he is active in Hokkaido. Stavrov reports, “I want the coronavirus pandemic to be over quickly, and I want to be able to dance as much as possible in front of audiences.”