Life at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy
This Saturday and the following Monday will be the first of any kind of break since September (obviously including Sunday as well which is always a free day), and yet I don’t feel desperate to stop due to lack of motivation, interest or anything else that would stem from the feeling of time dragging by. I feel like everyday has a new challenge to it whereby there are always improvements to be made, new aspects of the Russian language to discover and new places to visit.
My day always begins with technique class at nine o’clock although I’m always down by our studio at least half an hour before to stretch. There are eleven of us in the class and the pace is quick, enabling us to cover many exercises. I have learnt a lot of new steps and new ways of carrying out steps I already knew- even the basics- as our teacher explains the style to us in a way that affects everything we ever did before. I feel different in the way I think and use my turn out, arms and upper body just considering posture. I can tell that our teacher pushes us more and more every day and I love to work in this atmosphere. I feel very inspired by our teacher who, not only makes classical ballet make sense to me, but is an amazing dancer herself!
In addition, I have at least one session (45 minutes) of Russian language everyday too. Our teacher is fantastic- without him, we wouldn’t know what was going on! He lets us know when anything important is coming up and what the weather’s going to be like as well. He may not speak English, but he is fluent in French, so any word I don’t know, he tells me the French for. Plus, I prefer not having the option of reverting to English when something needs to be explained. I feel like my Russian is improving as I can express ideas to people fairly well now, but I still have a long way to go!
On top of those lessons, I have gymnastics, character, historical dance, make up, modern dance, acting, repertoire and pointe spread out at different times in the week.
Gymnastics is really great because I’m learning new stretches that I would never have even attempted before but which are so beneficial in that they push my body to new limits. Character is really interesting as I’ve never studied it as intensively before so all the different styles from the different countries (Spain, Poland, etc.) are all fascinating to learn.
In make up I have learnt the basic stage make up and how to make myself look like an old woman! Now we are focusing on hair styles; last lesson was the Giselle bun. Historical dance helps a lot with the understanding of ballet, as that was what it evolved from; the arms are smaller and the shoes different but it is very good to broaden your ballet technique.
Modern dance, of course, is very important as there are so many contemporary ballets now so I really enjoy moving in less classical forms for a change! Also, acting pushes us to be more expressive; recently we have been watching previous exams on DVDs to help us understand how an acting exam works. The younger years perform set pieces or scenes to music, eventually building up to actual repertoire pieces in the third year exam.
In repertoire we are focusing on our own chosen solos, mine being Etoile from Paquita, as there is a concert coming up that we can audition for and so we need to prepare pieces for it. We each dance our solo and our ballet teacher corrects us, one to one. We have the same ballet teacher for technique, repertoire and pointe where, again, I feel as if I am learning to dance on pointe in a completely different way.
To sum it all up, I’m still really enjoying all my classes and love the challenges they bring!