Life at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy
I’m taking the opportunity presented by the public holiday today (Worker’s Day) to provide an update on the past month and, indeed, to recharge – our teacher has allowed us two days off, with the admonition that we meet again, in Friday’s class, as if we’ve had two months off, ready to advance full-speed-ahead on exam work.
Our ballet exam will be on 29th May along with our historical dance exam while our character exam is likely to be the day before. Although I am firmly refusing to stress over anything, I can’t deny the slight change in the air as the exam period commences (already, the younger classes have had their exams).
Classwork is more demanding; our teacher expects much more from us, now. My muscles ache more and yet I’ve never felt so in shape before! I’m determined to try my best – which is all I can do – and put into practice all that I have learnt in my training, for the exams but also, of course, for the future.
I’ve really focused on improving my flexibility – and the Bolshoi approach to training, with lots of extreme stretching, has certainly helped me in this area. I’m now more flexible and toned than ever before. I feel my technique actually has improved all round since everything our teacher tells us is so useful and once applied makes a world of difference. In particular, one thing I’m very pleased to feel improvement on is allegro (jumps) as I always found this the hardest before I came to the Bolshoi.
Looking back at April, however, I can definitely acknowledge it as a great month! I had a wonderful time with my Mum and Grandma who visited at the start of the month. I was able to show them around my favourite places and explore new ones with them.
Our visit to the Kremlin was breathtaking as it’s like a petite city in its own right. We visited the Armouries and then walked past the Grand Kremlin Palace which is the very recognisable building often shown on TV when the Russian government is featured. I’ve fallen in love with the architecture of the Orthodox churches within the Kremlin – each is inspiring and the artwork that adorns the walls inside is unexpected and beautiful. We saw the Annunciation Cathedral, the Archangel Cathedral, the Assumption Cathedral, the Bell Tower of Ivan the Great and the Patriarch’s Palace. We also had our photos taken stood by the Tsar Cannon and the Tsar Bell!
Other sights during the six day visit included the Tretyakov Gallery and St. Basil’s Cathedral and Red Square, of course. Walks down Stary Arbat Street and in Gorky Park gave us plenty of chance to catch up properly. We also saw the Bejart Ballet perform a fab triple bill on the New Bolshoi Stage. I also showed them all the vegetarian restaurants I have discovered here – I have set a trend at the Bolshoi as lots of the students now love Jaggernath and I try to go once a week with my friends – and was able to show them how I go about life on a daily basis!
My Mum and Grandma also were able to watch two of my ballet classes, a pointe class and an acting class, which was great as they hadn’t seen me dance for so long. Ballet class always starts with a set warm up at the barre, then we do a set of exercises at the barre starting with plies and ending in grand battement after which we move into the centre and carry out our centre work, pirouettes and allegro.
After they left, I made sure I held true to my decision to see as many ballets as possible and acquired tickets, last weekend, to see Spartacus, a ballet exclusively performed by the Bolshoi. I honestly think I would class it amongst my favourite ballets; the music was riveting and the choreography so athletic.
This weekend I already have tickets to see the Stuttgart Ballet’s Gala performance which will be very exciting as I have never seen them perform before and am trying to broaden my knowledge of companies around the world for the future. Visiting the theatre in Moscow is quite a different experience to that of the UK – the audience never stop applauding during the performance and shouts of “bravo” echo around the theatre when the principle dancers perform their solos and pas de deux. When the star dancers such as Svetlana Zakharova and Evgenia Obratzova perform, the audience has them coming back for bow after bow at the end of the performance. Ballet as an artform certainly is appreciated here in Moscow and it’s wonderful to be part of that experience!
And speaking of what’s ahead, my next post will mark the completion of my exams! So I’ll close now and relax some more, while I’ve got the chance, before I embrace this next challenge…