San Francisco Ballet presents Artistic Director Helgi Tomasson’s version of Swan Lake beginning this Friday. Principal Dancer Maria Kochetkova says of her double role of Odette and Odile that they’re challenging, but help her to get into peak form. “If I can do Swan Lake, I feel like I can do anything. I’m in shape to do any other ballet, any other work.”

There’s more about the performances, which run through April 15th at the San Francisco Ballet website.

Part of the challenge of playing two roles that are so distinct is physical, and part is mental, but it’s a challenge Kochetkova enjoys: “I personally find it’s very interesting to be able to do both parts, to be able to bring two different characters in one night. They are very different, and I don’t even know which I enjoy the most, maybe Odette, to dance. I just find Odile very hard. Swan Lake for me is the hardest ballet. If I think of all the full-lengths I’ve done, Swan Lake is the hardest.” At five feet, her size contributes to that too. “Especially because I’m a petite dancer, I need to work extra hard in order to elongate every single line, and to stretch the positions and bend… You know that curve of the back needs to be like a curved swan neck. Putting your chest forward, elongating your arms and neck, it’s very difficult for me, it takes a lot of energy… I think maybe for some other dancers, it’s more natural, but at this point because I’ve been doing it for so many years, I rather enjoy it.”