Q: I recently watched the 1977 movie The Turning Point, for which you earned a Best Supporting Actor nomination, and your dancing was mind-blowing.
A: Well, yeah, maybe technically. That was my first film, and I was hired just to dance around. They added a little role while we were filming it. At that time all those technical details for me were easy, and they asked me to repeat and repeat and repeat from different angles.
Q: There is a scene in The Turning Point where your love interest is performing drunk and stumbles onstage. Were you ever inebriated onstage?
A: Yes. Yes. I was at the Kennedy Center, and I danced the day performance. Somebody else was dancing the same part in the eveningit was Don Quixoteand I had business between the shows. I had dinner with a few friends and had probably a couple of vodkas and a little wine. You know, it was a serious dinner. I was running American Ballet TheatreI was the directorand the leading dancer arrives onstage, takes a few steps, and grabs her knee or hip or something. She cannot continueit's an injury. First I think, Can we locate my partner? They locate her. Then I ask myself, Can you dance or not? Just because I'm a bit tipsy. But I jump in the hot shower, cold shower, this and that. I danced. I danced better than I'd danced in the afternoon. It was definitely an improvement.
Q: We seem to be passing through a moment in which Americans are obsessed with vodka, especially the luxury brands.
A: The Russians have a great saying: "There is no bad vodka. There is vodka, and there is very good vodka." I don't drink vodka anymorevery rarely, with a little good Russian food or something.
Q: Any advice for young men who want to dance?
A: You're a dancer or you're not. Young man or young womanit doesn't matter: This disease hits everybody. No gender is spared. When a young man is a dancer, gay or straight does not matter anymore in our society, luckily. The dance world was always much more open about being queer. In a way, it still isbut more open to straight guys. You know what I mean?
Q: Are there people who only know you as Aleksandr Petrovsky, the dude who got a little rough with Sarah Jessica Parker in Sex and the City?
A: Of course. For some die-hard people who are interested in dance, it's one thing. But for most people, when I go around the world, I'm that Petrovsky guy. Even my last name does not belong to me anymore. It happens in Paris, in London"It's that Russian guy from the Sex and the City."