“What scares me, actually, is being too calm and not having enough nervousness to be on stage” – Daniil Simkin
Born in Russia, raised in Germany, Daniil Simkin comes from a ballet family. His mother and father were professional dancers and his older brother, Anton Alexandrov, is a member of The Hamburg Ballet.
Simkin fell in love with performing at a young age when he joined his father onstage in small parts. His dance serious training, however, did not begin until age 10 when mother started teaching him ballet in private lessons. Her regime featured two hour classes per day, six days a week. Her syllabus drew upon Russian, French, and Cuban training techniques.
Simkin continued his academic studies at a regular school and never attended a formal ballet school. He told The New York Times, “I didn’t grow up with the clichés about ballet school, the competitiveness or aggressiveness, because I was the only one. I never saw it as a mission to be a ballet dancer or make it my life.”
Simkin started competing at age 12 and went on to win prizes at on the international circuit. A tech enthusiast ahead of his time, he began sharing videos of his competition solos online before it was common for dancers to do so. As a result, he became an internet sensation in the dance world. Despite his success, he wasn’t certain he wanted to become a dancer until he won grand prix at the International Ballet Competition in 2005 at age 16.
In 2006, he joined the Vienna State Opera Ballet as a demi-soloist. In 2008, he left to become a soloist at American Ballet Theatre, one of his dream companies. Company life presented certain challenges for Simkin. Since he was privately-trained, he initially lacked partnering experience. In addition, learning many different roles at once was a stark change from his mother’s more singularly-focused lessons. Yet, Simkin adapted to the new work environment and has no regrets about his upbringing. In 2012, he was promoted to principal dancer at ABT.
One of Simkin’s goals is to use the internet and social media to try to remove the mystique surrounding ballet dancers. He says, “I am not a “special breed” of a human or some super-natural, royal person. I am a simple person, who is a dancer.”
- He keeps cookies in the dance bag for a sugar-high.
- His favorite choreographers are Jiri Kylian, Alexei Ratmansky. and Mats Ek.
- If he could be a superhero, he said he would be “HappyMan”, a character possessing the ability to make people instantly happy.
Follow Simkin On:
Simkin Dancing in 2001 at Age 13 Alongside his Father:
Simkin dancing at the Helsinki International Ballet Competition in 2005:
Montage of Simkin Dancing as a Child and Today:
Simkin in the City (Humor, 2013):
New York Times Article on Simkin
Simkin’s Interview With Rogue Ballerina
MEN IN TIGHTS: Daniil Simkin!
Simkin’s Interview with Madame B NYC Blog
Simkin’s Interview with The Ballet Bag, Plus a List of What’s in His Ballet Bag
Simkin’s Interview with Gramilano