With her talent and movements, she has written pages of ballet history, and her dance has hypnotized audiences around the world and drawn ovations. She is the youngest prima ballerina, a recipient of the highest national and international awards in the field of dance, and after an impressive dancing career, she decided to pass on her vast knowledge to others through her dance school.

Ašhen Ataljanc talks to 011info about her career and some important life matters.

What are your earliest childhood memories?

My earliest memories go back to my grandparents' house in Pančevo, where I spent part of my childhood. I remember that house in the city center, the large yard, the garden filled with roses, various flowers, trees... I can still see those colors and recall the silence to which I could always return later in life when my peace was disturbed.

Part of my upbringing was tied to that place, which brought the experience of deep nature. Some other years of my childhood were connected to the Slovenian forests. Although I spent most of my life in cities, I still long for such a home. I am the eldest child in the family, the first of four children.

Nature is something you still consider indispensable for human life.

Nature is the foundation of life. Once we lived in harmony with nature in every sense. There are still people on this planet who have never separated from its original laws. Nature, Mother Earth. It's one way to remember life from the heart... to remember our Divine Mother... She is not just a piece of rock, she is alive and has consciousness, as does everything that surrounds us. Our connection with her conditions our health, the thoughts that create our life, our future, and our past. We live in cities made of concrete, and nature in the city is limited. We wear shoes with rubber soles and have completely lost contact with the Earth, which can heal us if we are close to it.

Animals are also part of nature. Perhaps it's time to reconsider our relationship with them. I'm not referring to pets. The human race has created concentration camps where thousands of living beings are soullessly killed daily. I’m not imposing personal views on dietary choices but rather on the horrific way people do it, with no awareness of where it leads. It seems to me that it's time for a change.

Being connected with oneself, people around us, animals, plants... To hear, understand, feel...

Life in cities poses all this as a challenge. Recently, I had an incredible opportunity to spend some time in a place where I could be barefoot for days, where the only sounds I heard were animals, rain, wind, and the primal human song from the heart... Without the internet, phones... Very quickly, unconditional Divine love flooded my entire body. The mind was stunned and had to surrender. My challenge and task are to live that here, in the noise, chaos, with other people's thoughts attacking from all sides. It is difficult... but the thought that it is possible, the creation of a New world, of harmony, understanding... A world where we can look into the eyes of every being and see ourselves... I wonder how far away that is...


When did your love for ballet begin, and did you have your parents' support on your journey?

At first, my parents didn't take my desire to pursue this art form seriously. Somehow, until I became a prima ballerina, they didn’t seem aware of my wish to express myself through movement. So, I can't say they particularly supported me on my artistic path.

As for my dancing start, my dad told me it all began when I watched some dance on TV. I asked what it was, and he explained it was ballet. I immediately told him I wanted to do that.

However, at that time, we lived in a small town in Slovenia, and unfortunately, there was no ballet or other dance school there. Soon, due to my parents' divorce, I moved to Pančevo and made my first steps in a ballet studio there.

Was that when you started realizing your dream?

At eight years old, I asked my father to send me to an art school in Russia. He said he couldn't fulfill that wish, probably fearing to leave me so young in a boarding school far from home. Only four years later, I lived alone in a rented room in Zagreb for the same reasons... At ten, I asked to be taken to London, to The Royal Ballet School. Unfortunately, that never happened.

I never understood his decisions. Later in life, when I wanted to ask him that and many other questions, it was too late because he had already passed away...

Then I learned to ask my questions immediately and express my feelings without hesitation.


You have experienced many changes in your life. Could it be said that dance and expressing yourself through movement were your firm support?

I believe each of us has very strong guidance and is cared for by a legion of wonderful beings who love us with unconditional divine love. They advise us in ways we don't understand... They help us make choices in life that are best for us. This doesn't mean we shouldn't go through tough life situations, which can include anything. These experiences are our teachers, and through them, our soul grows. We must be grateful for every experience... both good and bad... They make us the people we become, with the perfect roles we are given. It's interesting how we take on various roles to help each other find the best possible path. Sometimes it seems very hard, incomprehensible, and we feel like we will never be able to overcome certain challenges, but when it's all over and we look back, we see the perfect mosaic of situations that led us to be in a certain place at the right time.

Dance has been and still is, now in a different form, the expression of my soul. It taught me Spartan discipline, which helped me many times in life. It taught me that faith can move mountains and that the love we are made of can change the world. It taught me that an open heart, no matter how painful, is the fastest way to hear God Himself... to hear ourselves...

A major turning point in your career could have been expected in 1991 after the prestigious international award you won in Japan with Konstantin Kostjukov. However, things didn't go as expected.

When we returned, the war started, and the country was under embargo. Everything we had agreed upon thanks to that award completely fell through. So, I decided to leave. First to Munich, then Berlin... Italy... The opportunities here were not great, and I practically couldn’t pursue my profession, and I wanted to dance. Abroad was the only option.


Despite your great popularity and significant success outside our country's borders, at one point, you decided to move back to Belgrade. What led you to that?

I returned because I had a young child. We were living in Milan then, working night jobs, my partner in film and television, and I in the theater. It was set up in a way that I wasn't able to raise my child as I wanted. It was much easier to organize if we returned to Belgrade. I think I made a good decision.

What does it take to become the youngest prima ballerina?

Talent – it's not something you can practice. As Mika Antić said: "Who taught water to be drinkable and fire to be hot?" It's a gift people are born with. Everyone has that gift. Everyone for something different. It would be wonderful if every society were dedicated to helping children find that gift within themselves. Then no one would see their job as a burden or struggle. And life would become daily creation for everyone. Inspiration from the heart. Imagine what this world would look like?

Dancers have an enormous sense of responsibility. Winning a competition or playing a role a few times is not the issue. The responsibility is to justify that award, that role or roles, the given trust decades later. I once saw a violinist, whose concert tickets always sell out, perform as a street musician in the subway. He earned only one dollar, and almost no one stopped to listen.

So, success isn't just about how much you know and are worth but being in the right place at the right time and under the right circumstances. However, now, after so many years of life, I don't measure success by the number of performances, money, or anything that is increasingly described by that name... I think success is how many people we have inspired to find their true nature... Their gift... The inspiration with which they will continue to enrich and heal this world, whatever that may be...


You managed your hip problems with alternative methods for years. However, you had an accident that complicated the situation.

Last March, I fell down the stairs carrying a 20-liter bottle that fell right on my foot, crushing three metatarsal bones and tearing ligaments. Because of that, I was in a cast for six weeks. However, the circumstances were such that I had to work despite using crutches. All this led to an overload of my hip, which I had been told seven years earlier needed surgery, but I managed to keep it functional using the knowledge I had about energy healing.

By August, I had to walk with a cane, and surgery was inevitable. I must admit, as someone used to moving and expressing through movement, this was very difficult for me.

In the meantime, I learned about a person in Peru who literally saved a Belgrade doctor's life with his treatments. Since I was already involved in various types of healing, I decided to contact him.

All this happened before the hip surgery. However, after the surgery, which was quite complicated, the recovery was very slow. People usually start functioning normally shortly after such a procedure, but I couldn't walk without assistance even two months later.

So, semi-mobile with a cane, on January 31st last year, I boarded a plane and headed to Peru.

After only three days of healing therapy with that man, I left the cane behind. I stayed there for 18 days in the magical nature of the Amazon, which helped me recover. It was a truly incredible, magical experience. My hip (hips) are my great teachers... And I am grateful for that experience.

Your dance school and passing on knowledge are now your main focus.

I thought it would all be temporary. When I started the school, I began working with high school students. Now I primarily work with younger children. At first, I resisted. My ego questioned why I, with so much experience and knowledge, should work with such young children. But now it all makes sense. Children are the seeds of change. They bring the New Age. Their hearts are still open. I see myself as someone who will hold a safe space for that change. Art is a powerful instinctive force implanted in human hearts... Art is the oldest religion, and dance the beginning of everything.