Features & Interviews
Cyber Dancer - May 2009 by W MagazineHe can't deny his gift - on December 2009 by Ha'aretzWorld of Daniil Simkin - June 2011 by Pointe Magazine El ángel caído; Con El Bailarin Ruso Daniil Simkin - August 2011 by El Pais (Spanish) Man of the moment - December 2011 by Taipei Times
You are one of few classical dancers currently using social media to connect with your audience. How did you get into it and what are you trying to achieve in all these different platforms (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.)?
DS: I have always been interested in computers and any technology-related gadgets. Some boys are drawn towards cars and motorsports, whereas as a kid I was drawn to computers, science and gadgets. I spent more time on my father’s first computers than he ever did. Then came the Internet and its ever-increasing presence in our lives. Luckily I was born in an age when everything was just starting. I was designing personal websites by myself in my spare time and once codecs for videos became more efficient I put in there videos from my competitions as downloadable clips.
Then one day I saw one of my clips in somebody’s MySpace page and found out somebody else had uploaded two of my clips and was selling a DVD of it on YouTube without my permission. I was shocked. Because of that I decided to put my own videos onto YouTube, otherwise others would. I also started to use MySpace after my competition in Jackson (2006) since it was the perfect way to keep in touch with a lot of the US dancers I had met there.
From there it was not a long shot to Facebook and Twitter. I was the second professional dancer to use Twitter, after San Francisco Ballet Principal and good friend Maria Kochetkova. I had fun updating my status and therefore kept doing it, until twittering was the next popular thing for pretty much every and anyone. Nowadays all of my platforms are interconnected, which means that my profile and my work can be discovered through different channels. If somebody gets to know a little bit about what I do from watching my YouTube videos, this person can then have a full picture through my Facebook page, Twitter and my personal website, which is currently in the process of being upgraded to a new, fully integrated, Web 2.0 version.
Who are some dancers you consider inspiring (both past and present)?
I would take Mr. Baryshnikov’s technique and coordination, Mr. Nureyev’s charisma and stage presence and my father’s work ethic, put them all in a shaker and you would have the perfect male ballet dancer. Unfortunately—or maybe fortunately—life is not that simple.
You were born in Russia, raised in Germany, danced all over Europe and now are a soloist with American Ballet Theatre. Where is home?
It’s hard for me to define the term home. Is it where my parents live? Is it where I live six months of the year? Is it where I was born, but don’t remember? Is it where my suitcase is? Is it where my laptop is? Home is not just one particular place, but has different meanings and layers. I was born in Novosibirsk, in Siberia, Russia, and I feel connected to the essence of my Slavic soul. My psychological home is where my parents are. I was trained as a dancer by my mother, one of the reasons I am very close to my parents who remain incredibly supportive of my career and life. I make sure to stop by Frankfurt, where they live, a couple of weeks each year in order to reboot. I spend about six months of the year in New York which I love. The rest of the time I am performing in different places, often in Europe and Asia. Thanks to the Internet I can be in touch with my friends and family from basically anywhere and nowadays even on planes. Overall, I would say I am cosmopolitan and become more so every day.
Given that audience numbers are dwindling -- and that there is a load of competition for the audience in today's society (you can watch an Opera at the movies nowadays for $12!)...what do you think is the one thing that is necessary to forward the classical form -- and what can prohibit this art form from moving forward?
DS: Our art-form and the approach of our art-form is a little dated. I believe that the veil of mystique needs to be lifted.... I am not a "special breed" of a human or some super-natural, royal person. I am a simple person, who is a dancer. This image of the Ballet World as being elite and mystical, I believe that this could be updated -- we need to give access into the community and to the dancers and dances. Our art-form has a lot of potential but only if it chooses to grows as our culture grows, only then can it be successful and appreciated into the future.