*Why do we report on Russian skaters and publish interviews with them in spite of the terrible war (which is even not allowed to be called war in Russia) in Ukraine? We believe that these horrible events are not the fault of the Russian people and we feel that the civil society in Russia should be strengthened and not excluded.*
"Tango in a Madhouse” is interesting music and an interesting character. How do you approach it?
MK: I've done a lot of programs, but I haven't done something like this yet, so that is interesting. I'm discovering new creative sides to myself. When actors graduate, they're given some roles. Some stay in one genre, either comedy or something else. I still want to be able to play a variety of roles. So that something specific doesn't stick to me.
What's new for you in the character of "Tango in a Madhouse"?
MK: I let everything go through me and the portrayal of a mentally unstable, unhealthy person is very difficult. The difficulty for me is to process everything through me and give the spectators something incredible, something new, that is, not just some kind of suffering, but something of my own, my vision.
What is your vision?
MK: That's a very difficult question. I'm still in the process of searching, learning about different feelings, emotions, facial expressions, gestures. There is a very wide range of material to cover in order to be able to express it all in four minutes.
Mikhail performs his Free Skating at the test skates in St. Petersburg
Where do you find your inspiration?
MK: I read books and watch movies. Also, I think everyone faces some kind of problems in life. And I'm no exception. I also had some difficulties and I had to overcome them.
In training, one can see how you work on every detail, on every gesture. How close is this way of working to you?
MK: Close, because I'm the kind of person who likes precision in everything. I'm told, let's say I have an hour and I have to do a certain activity. I calmly do it, do it, do it ... the next day the same thing. And I do not get bored with it. I like to polish all aspects of it. Indeed, you correctly noted that a look, a gesture, it is all recognizable. Yes, I understand that perhaps not everyone in the audience will see it, but that is my job, to make sure that everyone sees it, so that it is not just sitting somewhere deep inside myself. And the interest and the difficulty is exactly what to show.
I think in this program you're even better at showing those inner emotions than before.
MK: Maybe because this season I have a slightly different attitude to my work, more meticulous than in previous seasons. It's experience, I guess, I'll answer like that.
In "The White Crow" I think you stayed more within yourself, and in "Tango" you come out more. How do you feel yourself about that?
MK: The process of coming out of my shell has been the hardest for me so far. In the White Crow, I learned to feel the inner character, and people could read that. And in this program, I see that I have to pull everything out from the inside. The main thing is not to overplay it so it doesn't feel like some kind of theatrical production. I understand that, it's difficult. It's really a lot of work.
Mikhail at practice in St. Petersburg
The choreographer of the programs is Ilia Averbukh, but there is a constant work with different choreographers, every day with Tatiana Prokofieva for example and also you worked with the ballet choreographer Konstantin Keikhel. What does working with different and new people like Keikhel give you?
MK: Working with different choreographers opens up new sides of me, a new vision of my program, not only for me but also for those around me. It enriches my movements and makes me different.
You kept “The Nutcracker” for the short program, but I see in practice that you continue to work on details of it as well.
MK: The rules have changed, so we have to redo the footwork and the spins. This is what we have been working on.
And what do you have to do so that you do not become bored with this program?
MK: What do you need to do? Just skate! Of course (I find something new). We include some new features. And it will encourage me a little, refresh the program, and it will make me feel better. Of course, it's very good and comfortable when a program well is broken in, because I know every step. But still somehow I want to add something. I like that this year there will be such an interesting contrast, I am such a prince (in the short program) and quite different in the free program.
Mikhail works with choreographer Tatiana Prokofieva at practice in St. Petersburg
We have not yet seen the costumes at the St. Petersburg test skates. What ideas do you have?
MK: Again, it's complicated. Apparently, I'm aiming for something very high. In “The Nutcracker” I had a more or less outlined vision - I've seen the ballet and had some idea of what I might look like - but as for the madhouse, I have no idea what kind of costume I could do it in.
Would you change the costume for the Nutcracker?
MK: I would definitely change the Nutcracker costume, because it's already worn out.