Sitting cross-legged on the floor of the Crosby Street Hotel wrapped in a plush white robe, Violetta Komyshan is on a break from her Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini shoot and is in the midst of describing how she came to be a professional ballet dancer. Once a hobby and now her career, the topic of ballet makes her fluctuate among nostalgia, ambition, and infatuation. “It’s a really cute story,” she begins, but as she goes on, it sounds more like the story of raw talent and hard work.
Born in New York, Komyshan spent a year in the Ukraine—her mother is Ukrainian and her father is Russian—when she was four years old and became known there as the little ballerina since she was constantly twirling around looking the part. Once she returned to the States, her mom enrolled her in the rigorous Ballet Tech, followed by the famed LaGuardia performing arts high school, where she received the formal training she needed to officially fall in love with dance. Following school, as many of her dancing peers opted out, Komyshan decided to dive in even further and got accepted to join BalletNext, a prestigious and innovative dance company that blends classical ballet with creative exploration.
“When you combine artistry with physicality, beautiful music, and an end goal—there’s no way it couldn’t make you feel fulfilled in life,” the 21-year-old dancer gushes. “It’s so difficult, and you can honestly drive yourself crazy—especially if you’re a bit of a perfectionist, like me.” She attributes her success to great mentors like BalletNext’s founder Michele Wiles, who promotes freedom of expression within the studio. “At BalletNext, the concept of ballet doesn’t restrict, it just provides the platform. After we do our classical ballet class warm up, we throw on our pointe shoes and go crazy,” she explains with a smile. “It’s a super close-knit and cooperative group.”
Later in the day, she describes a recent breakthrough she had in the studio while dancing a piece called “La Follia” that Mauro Bigonzetti choreographed for BalletNext. “Yesterday was actually the first time I feel like I did it really well, because after running it 100 times, my body finally has the choreography down, and I can really get artistic with it,” she says excitedly. She adds that it isn’t always easy, which is why the rewards are so valuable. “I’ve had outbursts and even wanted to cry before, just because something wasn’t working, or I couldn’t get my body to do it.”
While BalletNext has been Komyshan’s full-time gig for the last year, she makes time for other passion projects, which have increasingly included collaborations within the fashion industry. She’s especially excited to be modeling Philosophy di Lorenzo Serafini, commenting that it was her mother’s love of Italian designers that first exposed her to fashion growing up. “I’m obsessed,” she admits as she changes into suede pants and a knit top by Philosophy. The look is edgier than the romantic dresses she wore in the morning, and she can’t decide if her favorite look of the day is this, or the white lace and ruffle blouse/skirt set that she’d soon be dancing around in on set.
Finishing the day with a barefoot and impromptu dance routine, you’d never know that Komyshan had nerves at the start of the day. “I’m not a model, so I was a little scared to be honest. I’ve done some shoots, but always either with friends or related to dance.” It’s clear that the same grace and strength she possessed while dancing “La Follia” the day before also translates to her coming alive in front of the camera—a true star in bloom.