The first time I ever saw Derevianko was at one of the Bolshoy School's recitals. He was still a young boy, I think he was in the third year. Even back then, he used to amaze us all on account of his exceptional physical characteristics. His legs were incredibly ..... and his movements very, very light. By comparison with him, the girls all looked positively heavy!
Nevertheless, I tried not to place too many hopes in the boy because it is often the case that a young dancer who is physically gifted fails to grow artistically. When I worked with Derevianko in "Icarus" and "Macbeth" a few years later, I was therefore overjoyed to discover that the boy with the extraordinary physique had also grown into a true artist; indeed, he was continuously growing. I have always admired those artists are not in competition with their colleagues but, rather, with themselves. It was clear that Derevianko belonged to this category.
It was Volodia's precision that I loved then, and still love today: the perfect graphical quality of his body and, over and beyond this, his unbounded emotional energy. He has a very wide range, not when it comes to interpretation (insofar as he can interpret any kind of role, from the tragic to the comical), but from the point of view of choreography. What I mean is that Volodia is able to execute any kind of step in the most perfect way - both the small and the grand ones, the dramatic gestures and the slow ones alike. Clearly, it is certain movements that become a dancer's hallmark: in Volodia's case it is jetÚs and arabesques. But he is equally capable of performing the entire gamut of ballet steps and movements, and this is a rare quality indeed.
From the perspective of the choreographer, which is what I am today, working with Volodia is like working with a thriving, malleable substance like clay. He has painted all the roles I created for him in strong colours, starting with the highly original character of the witch in "Macbeth". I missed him terribly when I had to re-stage that same ballet without him. Moreover, Volodia is able to interpret roles that were originally created for other dancers, making them look even better. An example is the role of Paganini, in Lavrovsky's ballet by the same name, which I re-staged for him at the San Carlo Theatre in Naples in 1988.
I have always been of the opinion that Volodia requires his own personal repertoire. He needs original roles in order to exploit to the full his special qualities as a dancer and an interpreter. I was able to give him some of these special roles and I hope that my destiny as a choreographer will hold many more opportunities to work beside him in the future.