This 11-year-old girl will make you feel like a big slacker
Here’s one New York City tween who doesn’t spend her free time obsessing about headbands and Robert Pattinson: Maria Gorokhov, the 11-year-old girl in the role of Marie in the New York City Ballet’s production of George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker. Maria has a pretty amazing family story. When she was just six and living in Barcelona, her Soviet Georgia-born mother, Elisa, had an idea in her head that her daughter would one day be accepted into the School of American Ballet in New York and star as Marie in The Nutcracker. Elisa and Maria moved to the States, and after about a year (during which time little Maria learned English, got her bearings and applied to the prestigious dance academy) she was fully on her way. This is actually Maria’s third year playing one of the Maries in the NYCB’s Nutcracker (there are two alternating casts). We found a moment to chat with the four-foot-three, 59 lb sixth grader during her busy schedule of performances, school, dance classes and piano.
Even during the Nutcracker run, you’re going to school every day. What’s that like?
After a 6pm performance, I get home at like 9, I do a bit of homework, and usually go to sleep. If I don’t finish my homework I just go to sleep and wake up early in the morning and finish it. It’s not too hard.
What about the days when you’re not performing?
I have dance classes six days a week. An hour-and-a-half every day, and two hours on Wednesday. But it’s not too much or anything. When I get home, I just, like start playing the piano.
What school subjects do you like?
Oh, I love to read! When my teacher gives us a half hour of free reading time, I’m just so happy. And I love math. We’re doing fractions right now.
Maria in the party scene of Act 1 of “The Nutcracker”
What sort of projects are some of your classmates
at Professional Performing Arts School
A lot of them do commercials and modeling. And a lot of my friends are on Broadway. One of my friends is in Ragtime, and in the 7th grade someone’s in The Lion King.
Are you a fan of Hannah Montana?
I don’t usually have time to watch TV and I don’t really look up to singers, actually. I look up to dancers that are in the company, like the Sugarplums and the Dewdrops.
So, no Jonas Brothers?
[Makes a face.] We share lockers at school and I share with a girl who does like the Jonas brothers, so you see half of our locked filled with pictures of stuff like the Jonas brothers, and the other half with like, ballerinas and a picture of Julie Andrews in the corner. I love Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews.
What about like, the Twilight movies?
My friends at school are so into it, they make Twilight signs, and I’m like, “What are you doing?”
Where does this dancing talent come from? Are there other dancers in your family?
No. My aunt is a doctor and my uncle is a dentist, and the other half of my family is dentists.
Photos by Paul Kolnik (Production), W Magazine (Portrait)