Tala Lee-Turton

Life at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy

Top tips for international students thinking about training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy

Last updated June 2016.

When I was offered my place at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, I thought very carefully through my options before making the decision to accept.  It’s a long way from my home and family and so, although I couldn’t believe my luck when I got the offer, it was a tough decision.  There wasn’t much information either to go on – so I had to trust in the Bolshoi’s reputation and the advice of my teachers at Bristol Russian Ballet School who convinced me that Russian training would be a great benefit to a career as a classical dancer.

So I thought it would be helpful to provide a whistle-stop guide for anyone out there interested in training here at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

1. One year Traineeship or three year Diploma?

Tala Lee-Turton - in the studio at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy

In the studio

A Traineeship is a one year course which consists of ballet, character, acting, make up, gymnastics and modern classes plus lessons in the Russian language.  The Diploma is a three year course which consists of all of the vocational classes plus duet class plus academic subjects. You have to successfully complete the Traineeship in order to be invited on to the Diploma.  All classes and lessons are taught in Russian.

The Academy prefer international students to do the Traineeship first so that they can see your potential and also so that you can learn Russian before starting on your academic studies on the Diploma course.  However, some international students do get offered a place directly on the Diploma.  At the end of the Diploma you will have reached the standard of: speciality – choreographic art, qualification – ballet dancer.

2. What does it cost?

The cost of training at the Academy is 17,000 euros per year.  The exchange rate has a big impact on how much you pay in your own currency, however.  The fee covers the costs of vocational training, academic studies and food and accommodation at the Academy.  It is less if you do not opt for the academics to be included.

3. How to apply.

Entry is via application form and video.  There is no official deadline date for the August start.  There is link to the Academy’s website which tells you how to apply here or you might find it easier to access the information from the Academy’s blog for international students here with the relevant application forms and details here.

4. What is the training like?

Tala Lee-Turton Bolshoi Ballet Academy

In the studio

I have some great teachers here at the Academy.  All the teachers have great CVs and most of them have performed in top companies.  Marina Leonova, our Rector, was a renowned Russian dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet Company.

Once you start on the Diploma you get the same teachers for each of the three years.  There are students from ages nine to twenty here all training in the Vaganova method. Classes take place in one of the 20 studios; all with high ceilings and windows so they are light and airy.  The floors are all raked.

Classes take place Monday to Saturday with Sunday free.  The week consists of: daily 1.5 hr ballet classes, 2 x 1.5 character classes, 2 x 1.5 hr rep classes, 1 x 1.5 hr duet class. 1 x 1.5 modern class, 2 x 1.5 hr acting class and 2 x 45 min gym class.  On the Traineeship we also had a make up class each week.  You are examined in each area at the end of each year and given a mark from one to five.

Warming up!

Warming up!

The Russian training focuses a lot on flexibility and turn out.  It really is the best training I have had.  My technique and flexibility have improved so much since I came here – I would recommend it to anyone considering a career as a ballet dancer.

The other, most important point, is that the teachers here really help you to believe in yourself.  They are very direct but everyone is given the best opportunity and is nurtured; if you work hard, you can really develop yourself and your confidence here.

5. Are international students treated differently?

Outside the Academy

Outside the Academy

As an international student you have to be prepared to prove your worth, because, of course, there are Russian students that have been here since they were 10 or 11 whose progress the teachers have followed through the years and, therefore, naturally attract the majority of attention.  However, it’s perfectly achievable for the international students to demonstrate their abilities if they possess the required amount of determination and good work ethic.

Female international students are generally taught in a separate international class; although some do get placed in the Russian classes.  There are no international classes for male students, so all male international  students are placed in the Russian classes.

The international students come from all over the world.  There are students here from America, Japan, Portugal, Italy, Spain, South America, China to name a few; so it’s a very international experience.  As well as absorbing the Russian culture, you get to learn about lots of other cultures too.

6. Is there a guide on weight?

Tala Lee-Turton Life at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy - portfolio Summer 2014There is a height and weight chart in the contract that you will be asked to sign.  It’s true that here in Russia they like you to be slim – and they will tell you if you are too big – often in front of everyone in the class!  It’s part of the directness that you just need to get used to.

They do not expel students though on account of their weight unless they are also not working hard or not making progress.  They will also tell you if you are too thin and they view this as harshly as they do if you are too big; so you can lose marks in your exams if you are too much one way or the other!

7. Do you study academic subjects?

Tala Lee-Turton during the International Ballet Masterclass at Czech National Ballet Studios, Prague on August 11, 2015. Photo: Arnaud StephensonAcademic classes start in the first of the three Diploma years.  All academic classes are taught in Russian which is actually a big help as it really does improve your language abilities.  The academics are largely made up of arts subjects such as history, history of culture, history of ballet, history of theatre.  We also do maths/ IT, sciences, geography and citizenship.

You will be expected to pass the State Russian exam in the second year of your Diploma and the Diploma is awarded at the end of your third year, alongside the dance Diploma for vocational studies.  Each of the academic subjects are examined and, again, you get a grade, one to five, at the end of each year.

8. Do you get the opportunity to train with other teachers from outside of the Academy?

To top up the excellent training we get from our regular teachers, the Academy often brings in external teachers and schools to choreograph work with us or give us an insight into different training methods.  So, for example, Nacho Duato and the Wayne McGregor Dance Company, Random Dance, have done sessions with us.

9. Are there opportunities to take part in performances?

Tala Lee-Turton Bolshoi Ballet AcademyThe Academy holds performances at least twice a year, in Winter and Spring.  Our teachers encourage us to take part and you can be selected to rehearse a solo variation or group piece, or have something specially choreographed by one other teachers or even Bolshoi Ballet Company members.

All those that perform are selected via an audition that takes place a couple of days prior to the actual concert.  The concerts take place in the Academy’s theatre; we are very lucky to have such a huge stage with theatre seating for over 400 people as a resource.

The Academy also puts on a ballet each year – normally in November.  The last few years, La Fille Mal Guardee has been the chosen production.  This is usually performed at the Bolshoi Theatre on the New Stage.  Again you are selected to take part on the basis of auditions.  Rehearsals are quite intensive in the run up to the performance and you will need to be prepared to attend even if you aren’t selected for the first cast.  It’s hard work but worth it if you are selected and get to perform on the Bolshoi Theatre New Stage!

Tala Lee-Turton Tanzolymp 2015 Bolshoi Ballet AcademyThe Academy also gets invited to perform with other schools in galas and other similar events – so we often partner up with American Ballet Theatre Studio Company, La Scala, Theatre Opera Rome, Hamburg Ballet School and the Vaganova Academy, for example.  The Academy held one such event while I’ve been here which I wrote about here; but some of the students also get to fly out to similar gala performances in other countries.

10.  What’s the Academy’s approach to summer schools?

Tala Lee-Turton Bolshoi Ballet Academy Prague International Ballet Masterclasses

Prague

The Academy hold their own summer school in New York.  It is a six week summer intensive and you can find out about it here.  You are encouraged to continue your training over the holidays.  I’ve attended the Prague International Ballet Masterclasses (see my review here), Vaganova Master Classes in Finland and the Royal Ballet Summer School (see my previous post here) in London.

11. Do you get to go to the theatre?

Tala Lee-Turton Bolshoi Ballet Academy

Bolshoi Theatre

One of the great benefits of being a student at the Academy is that you can use your student card to get very cheap tickets to see the Bolshoi Company perform.  You often have to make do with seats high up in the theatre, sometimes with restricted views, but it doesn’t matter when you get to see such great performances.

Whilst I’ve been here, I’ve been fortunate enough to see many performances including: La Bayadere, Coppelia, Paquita, Spartacus, Swan Lake, Giselle, Jewels and the Pharaoh’s Daughter.  I’ve also seen many great Bolshoi dancers such as Svetlana Zakharova, Evgenia Obratsova, Artem Ovcharenko, David Hallberg and Olga Smirnova.

We also have another great company here in Moscow, the Stanislavsky Ballet Company.  They are also very good and I even got to see Sergei Polunin perform on Coppelia which I wrote about here.

12. What is the accommodation like?

Tala Lee-Turton Bolshoi Ballet Academy

My room

The accommodation for international students is on the third floor of the Academy.  It is above the studios on the second floor and the administrative offices on the first floor.  All of the Academy has been refurbished over the last two to three years.  It is modern and clean.

The building is set around a quadrangle and there are some large areas in each corner and along some of the corridors for socialising and also stretching and practising.  It’s very rare to walk along the corridors without passing students in strange positions stretching out their muscles!

Each room has facilities for three students.  There is a large window at one end so the rooms are nice and light and there is plenty of wardrobe space, a desk and a side table.  There is a washing room where you can do your laundry and also shared shower and toilet facilities.

13. What’s the food like?

Tala Lee-Turton Bolshoi Ballet Academy

At the local market

I was told a vegetarian diet would be difficult to maintain in Moscow.  However, I have managed to eat very well here.  There is a canteen at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy – however, I tend to make most of my meals.  You do have to be creative though, as there is only a microwave in the kitchen area of the boarding floor.  I have my own fridge and freezer which I keep in my own room – I purchased it at a good rate from one of the graduates when they left.

I source most of my ingredients from the three main supermarkets in Frunzenskaya – all within walking distance – and one or two other shops that are a short metro journey away.  I have also found some wonderful vegetarian restaurants – Café Jaggernath and Fresh are my favourites.  But you will find a range of international restaurant chains and coffee shops such as Le Pain Quotidien and Starbucks – plus Russian ones such as Му-му (Mu Mu), Шоколадница (Shokoladnitsa) and Кофе-хауз (Coffee House).

14. How do you set up internet and wifi connections?

Tala Lee-Turton Bolshoi Ballet AcademyUnfortunately there is limited wifi in the boarding area, so you have to source the best deal for what you need in the many mobile phone shops in Frunzenskaya.  The staff in the shops are mostly very helpful, however, you do need to take a fairly fluent Russian speaker with you and an 18+ year old to sign the contract.

Wifi and internet are really cheap here in Russia.  It’s super fast so I can Face Time and Skype back home regularly each week.

You top up your phone and wifi connections at little booths that are dotted along the high streets.  Wifi is also freely available in every coffee shop and many other places in Moscow.

15. What are Moscow and Frunzenskaya like?

St Basil's in Red Square

St Basil’s in Red Square

The Academy is based in Frunzenskaya, just four stops on the Metro from the heart of Moscow.  It’s a residential area and the Academy is located just two minutes walk from the main high street where you will find a good range of supermarkets, restaurants, coffee shops, mobile phone shops and other facilities.  It’s safe although we are not allowed to go out on our own.

I love every part of Moscow that I have seen so far.  There are some really iconic, must-see places.  And I love discovering new places.  I wrote about my favourite places to visit here.

16. What’s the weather like?

Snow!

Snow!

Well I have to be honest – it does get cold in the winter.  The coldest I have experienced so far is -26 degrees!  You have to cover up every part of your face and body with lots of layers and walk very quickly to where you are going.

It does snow a lot any time from November through to February.  The Russian authorities, however, have a great system for clearing the snow, so nothing stops.  We all just carry on doing what we need to do regardless of the snow which can get very deep, very quickly.

In the spring it gets very mild – from about April onwards it will be 10 degrees plus and in the summer you can walk about in shorts.  It gets very hot.  In August, when I start each new academic year, the temperatures are also very mild but they soon drop in November.

17. What currency do you use?

The currency is roubles.  There are cash machines within very close proximity to the Academy.  I have a pre-paid currency card (Caxton) that my Mum tops up for me in the UK.  So I work to a budget and draw out what I need each week but don’t get charged for each time I use it.

18. Brits at the Bolshoi

Tala Lee Turton Bolshoi Ballet Academy Final Year Exams 2016In June 2016, I became the 3rd Brit female student to graduate from the Bolshoi.  I have written a separate post detailing the history of British students at the Academy – you can find this post here.

One of the things you will have to get used to is the press and media fascination with British students at the Bolshoi.  I, along with most of the other British students, have had documentaries and news stories produced and written about our choice to train here. I was featured on the One Show but turned down several requests to be part of bigger documentaries.  It can be very exciting though any involvement with documentary type features does require time and effort.  The five minute feature that the One Show did about me took days of filming to produce!

Well I think that’s quite a bit of information for now!  I hope you find it useful.  If there are any areas that I haven’t covered then please contact me and let me know and I’d be happy to up date this post or answer your questions directly.  Thank you for reading!

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60 comments on “Top tips for international students thinking about training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy

  1. Pingback: Brits at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy | Tala Lee-Turton

  2. clairelyell
    May 26, 2014

    Reblogged this on The ultimate global guide to great dance education and commented:
    A very clear opinion on life at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow…

  3. Tala Lee-Turton
    May 27, 2014

    Thanks clairelyell! It’s a real compliment to have my post re blogged:)

  4. Monica Newell
    June 21, 2014

    This is so interesting do you mind these posts being shared on facebook

  5. Monica Newell
    June 22, 2014

    When I was younger we did not have internet – so it was almost impossible to get this sort of insight into life at the Bolshoi for a UK student . Thank you for giving your time to write this for all of us , it is fascinating.

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      June 22, 2014

      I’m really pleased that you have found this interesting – part of the reason for writing this post was because I found it very difficult to find information out about the Bolshoi and to understand what sort of decision I was making as a 16 year old ballet dancer in training. I wanted therefore to provide as much information as I could to anyone in the same situation! Thanks very much for your feedback – again, really glad it was a good read – I update the blog at least monthly so please keep in touch! 🙂

  6. Monica Newell
    June 22, 2014

    I certainly will , I am sure this must be such an inspirational read for so many students and so helpful for anyone hoping to do the same as yourself. Don’t feel you have to reply to much – we all know how busy you must be and really appreciate the time and effort you put it to write this.

  7. Pingback: Top tips for international students thinking about training at the Bolshoi Ballet

  8. Pingback: A day in the life of a Bolshoi Ballet Academy student | Tala Lee-Turton

  9. Kathryn
    March 24, 2015

    Dear Tala,
    It was wonderful how you shared all your information and thank you!
    My daughter participated last summer in the Bolschoi intensive in NYC and loved it and wants to move there already to study. She will be 11 this summer. Has taken Russian lessons since the summer. What kind of tips can you give her and is it realistic that she apply?

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      March 25, 2015

      Thank you, Kathryn! I’m glad you found the information useful and its lovely that your daughter has so taken to the Russian style. My tips would be to keep working on flexibility and core strength; this is key to Russian style training. Also, you have to be determined and focused if you want to take up classical dance as a profession. This involves lots of hard work and sacrifices; particularly if you are thinking of moving to another country to train!

      International students tend to come to the Academy at ages 14/ 15/ 16 – there have been some exceptions but these are few. It’s worth contacting the Academy if you think your daughter has the kind of potential that the Bolshoi is looking for. A good measure is to ask the teachers at the Summer Intensive, if you are intending to go again this summer, as that is how most of the American students get invited to attend the full-time school.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  10. Da ballet
    July 23, 2015

    Hi I loved reading your blog ! I can’t seem to find much information about bolshoi ballet academy else where so is it fine if i ask you a few questions ?

    First thing was until what age can you audition for bolshoi academy ?
    Then I was wonder is possible to decide to only do the traineeship year or do you have to do the diploma as well and lastly what is the standard or the people in the traineeship year?

    Hope I’m not a bother thanks !!

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      July 24, 2015

      Hi it’s fine to ask questions! Part of the reason for writing my blog is because I found it so hard to find information when I was first considering applying!

      I auditioned at 16 for the traineeship programme – but there were students of 14 also in my class as well as some that were 18/19. You can also audition to start earlier in the younger classes. Lots of students just come for the traineeship year – you don’t have to go on to the Diploma and sometimes traineeship students are not offered a place on the Diploma. The standard is very high.

      I hope that helps 🙂

  11. Lynda Sears
    August 10, 2015

    Dear Tala,

    Thank you for sharing this well written and thoughtful information! You stated that academic classes start in the first of the three Diploma years. How did you pursue academics during the traineeship programme?

    I appreciate your time and wish you all the best!
    Lynda

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      August 10, 2015

      Hi Lynda – thank you very much! In answer to your question, all of the academic classes are taught in Russian so we had to spend the traineeship year learning the Russian language alongside our dance classes in order to prepare. Some of the international students do online courses from their respective countries during the traineeship year (and some continue to do this on top of the Diploma). We continue studying Russian language alongside other academic classes during the three-year Diploma and sit a formal state exam in the second year. It is then optional to study Russian language to advanced level in the third year of the Diploma.

      I hope that helps!

      Tala 🙂

      • Lynda Sears
        August 10, 2015

        Thank you, Tala!!

  12. Lily Smith
    September 21, 2015

    Hi Tala, I am auditioning for the Bolshoi academy and I am doing my video tomorrow. I am from Australia and spent July this year training at their intensive. I was just wondering if you would have any idea how long it takes for them to reply once I send my video and application? Thank you 🙂

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      September 21, 2015

      Hi Lily

      They actually replied to me almost straight away – within a couple of weeks of me sending the DVD. I applied in February and heard back the same month. There wasn’t a deadline date when I applied – I think they reply as each application comes through. x

      • Lily Smith
        September 22, 2015

        Hi Tala,

        Thankyou so much! I did the video today, I think it went well, sending it off in the next couple of days, so fingers crossed!! Thank you for you advice x

  13. Lily Smith
    September 21, 2015

    Sorry I just had another question, hope I am not a bother!! I am 15 (today is my birthday in fact) and I am in year 10 school in Australia, year 11 starting in January. I was just wondering whether I should be applying for the traineeship or the diploma? I have friends who I met at the intensive who are my age and going into first year diploma so is it based on age? Also I am a full-time ballet student here (meaning I don’t go to school, I do school online and train 9-3 Monday-Saturday then more night classes from around 5-8) if that has any influence on what I should be applying for 🙂 Your help is much appreciated!

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      September 21, 2015

      Hi Lily – no worries, it’s not a bother at all.

      Access onto the traineeship or diploma isn’t based on age. I started on the traineeship at 16 which is a natural break in the education system in England so made sense for me. There were one or two students as young as 14 and one or two that were 19 and 20 but most were around 16/17. Generally, international girls are placed in the traineeship year so that you become accustomed to the training and also learn the language ready for more intensive training on the diploma and academic classes – all taught in Russian. Some girls do get placed straight onto the diploma but this is an exception and generally means that the Academy thinks these girls can cope with the diploma straight away. I got a lot of value out of the traineeship – it really brought me up-to-speed with Bolshoi-style training and I think I was better prepared for my academic classes having had a year to learn the language first off. The Academy will decide where to place you though so even if you say you would like to start on the diploma they will make the decision.

      I hope that helps – good luck! xxx

      • Lily Smith
        September 22, 2015

        Hi Tala,

        Thank you so much for your advice! Your blog has been such a help as I found trouble finding much information regarding the application process etc so thank you!!
        Do you think that possibly I should put on the application form that I am applying for either, and let them choose which to put me in? (if I am lucky enough to get in!) Can I do that? haha 🙂 Thanks so much xxx

        I was also wondering, when I put my video up on youtube, could I possibly give you the link to look at and see what you think? Sorry if that is a really weird question haha

        Thankyou for all your help xxox

      • Tala Lee-Turton
        September 22, 2015

        Hi Lily – yes, I think it might be best to put that you are applying for both – they will decide for you anyway.

        I’m happy to have a look at your video – you can send me the link on here or if you want to do it privately send it via the contact page on the blog and it will come to me as direct mail.

        I’m glad my blog has been helpful! xxx

  14. Lily Smith
    September 27, 2015

    Hi Tala,

    I sent off my DVD the other day (putting it on youtube) and emailed the link with me application, only to find out that the woman who processes the auditions is on annual leave until Sept 30th! But thats ok, only two extra days now until the wait begins haha. I was wondering if you could possibly take a look at my audition video? It is totally embarrassing, I know I have soooooooooo much to work on, and I am not in fact trained in the Vaganova syllabus, I am actually trained in mostly RAD. But I work very hard and have tried as hard as I can to apply everything I learnt at the intensive. I know I am not very good yet, but if you could take a look and give me your thoughts and some tips on improving for the future that would mean the world 🙂 Thanks so much for all your help!! xxox
    Here is the link– https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1s_B6EUJJy8&feature=youtu.be

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      September 27, 2015

      Hi Lily – well done on sorting your DVD – I’ve sent you a direct message 🙂

      • Lily Smith
        September 27, 2015

        Yes sorry just got it! Thank you so so much for all your help and feedback, it is much appreciated 🙂

      • Tala Lee-Turton
        September 27, 2015

        🙂 xxx

  15. Lily Smith
    October 2, 2015

    Hi Tala!!

    I just wanted to tell you that I got in!! They sent me an email just a few hours ago that I have been accepted into the Bolshoi Ballet Academy!! Thank you for all your help!! I have accepted and if I can get a visa in time I will hopefully be there in the first week of this November!!

    Hope to see you soon 🙂
    Thankyou,
    Lily xxox

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      October 2, 2015

      Lily – that’s great news – well done! I very much look forward to seeing you in November then 🙂 xxx

  16. Allison walker
    November 9, 2015

    Hi, I am thinking of auditioning for the full year not the summer intensive and was wondering When the due dates are or when I would go there if I sent my audition in December when do you think I would go (if accepted) that year or in September. Also how do I convince/tell my parents that ballet is my passion and to let me go to the Bolshoi? Thanks

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      November 9, 2015

      Hi Allison – there isn’t really a deadline date for applications and they are generally very quick at getting back to you. I applied in February and heard back the same month. That was for a start in September. The Academy year starts on 1st September every year and that’s when most students start, subject to visas being sorted.

      I’m not sure about convincing your parents, it is a big ask of them and of you to go and train in another country, not to mention the cost. If it’s what you really want to do, then hopefully they’ll understand your drive and determination. There are lots of other benefits and life skills to learn, of course, by being here – I speak fluent Russian, have learned about lots of different cultures, Russian and those of my fellow international students from Japan, America, South American, Portugal, Greece and Spain to name a few, and can look after myself in a foreign country 🙂

      Good luck x

      • Allison walker
        November 9, 2015

        Ok thanks, I think I convinced them to let me audition at least but do you have any tips for the video auditions or what they are looking for? I’m petite and have really hyper extended feet and a good arch and I am 14. Also do you know Morgan Hastings I think she goes to the bolshoi and she came from Utah which is where I’m from we have danced in the same company before and I didn’t know she was in Russia. Thanks again

      • Tala Lee-Turton
        November 10, 2015

        Yes, I did know Morgan but she only did a year and isn’t here any longer. As for the video, they’ll be really interested in turnout as that’s a major part of the Russian technique and, I guess, try and show exercises that will give them chance to see your hyper extended feet. Upper body posture is really important too; we’re always being reminded to pull back our shoulders and have a definite eyeline. I wish you the best of luck – don’t forget to show that you love to dance 🙂

      • Allison walker
        November 10, 2015

        Ok, thank you so much for all the tips. I will let you know when I send in my video!

  17. Ella
    November 30, 2015

    Hi Tala, I was just wondering – do the Bolshoi ballet academy only accept people with full 180 degree turnout or are there some people who’ve got good turnout just not 180? Thank you 🙂

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      December 1, 2015

      Hi Ella – the Russian teaching is very turnout focused but that means that all the training helps you to improve it and enable you to stand in 180 degree, flat turnout. You don’t necessarily have to have flat turnout to be accepted 🙂

      • Ella
        December 5, 2015

        Thank you 🙂

  18. Guineapig22
    February 22, 2016

    Does the Bolshoi (Or Vaganova) Russian academies ever give full or partial scholarship to foreign students with all the natural facility (height-weight proportionate by their standards, good turn-out, pretty feet on hyperextended legs, high extensions, upper body elegance and expressive arms and fingers) and who are technically well-trained already in Vaganova curriculum outside of Russia by age 13 or 14? What is the best age to enter either of these two programs in terms of maturity? Do you have to speak some basic Russian already to be considered for the Russian program instead of the international program?

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      February 22, 2016

      Hi – I can only really comment on the Bolshoi as that’s where I’ve had experience. I’m taking that by “full or partial scholarship” you mean the traineeship and diploma programmes as there isn’t a scholarship? In my first year (traineeship), there were students with ages ranging from 14 – 20, some of whom then were selected to move onto the three year diploma programme. I think any younger than that and students may get put into the lower school classes. I started on my traineeship year when I was 16 – that’s because it fitted in well with the UK education system and we have a break at 16.

      Not everyone has basic Russian – but you do learn very quickly once you get here as all of the teachers and the staff in the boarding area only speak Russian. Speaking Russian, however, isn’t a determining factor for being placed in a Russian or International class – the decision is based on technique and facility. There are only ever one or two, at most, international students in a Russian class, however. The training and exams are identical for international and Russian classes.

      Hope that helps – thank you for reading my blog! Tala 🙂

  19. Regina
    March 10, 2016

    Hi Tala! I really love reading your blog- it’s so interesting to read about being a student in Russia!! My dream is to study at the Bolshoi one day, but I started dancing quite late (12, but started training more seriously at 13). I study the Vaganova method, and I feel like I’ve caught up pretty well except for my turns. I would love to study there eventually, but I’m nervous that my turns won’t be good enough. Do they expect you to have really good technique when you get there? And what do they specifically look for when you audition? Thank you so much and best of luck for your auditions 🙂

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      March 10, 2016

      Hi Regina – thank you, I’m glad you find my blog interesting! Don’t worry about having perfect technique – they will look for potential as well. My tips would be to keep working on flexibility and core strength; this is key to Russian style training. For the audition, try and show exercises that will give them chance to see your strengths. They’ll be really interested in turnout, as that’s a major part of the Russian technique, and upper body posture is really important too; we’re always taught to pull back our shoulders and have a definite eyeline.

      Hope that helps 🙂

  20. Regina
    March 11, 2016

    Thank you so much! 🙂 If you don’t mind me asking, what are your tips for turning? And what is your favorite and least favorite part about studying at the Bolshoi?

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      March 11, 2016

      Hi Regina – turns are something that I have had to work on too. It’s really about your coordination. I’ve really broken down the mechanics of the turn, thinking about and working on each individual aspect in isolation and then focusing on putting them all together so that they happen at the same time.

      My favourite part about being here – oh, there are so many, it’s difficult to choose! From a dance perspective, I’ve been pushed and stretched (literally) to the limits of my ability and beyond in order to perfect my technique. I have benefited massively from this and am not sure I would have made such progress elsewhere. I also love the fact that I get to see the stars of the Bolshoi perform regularly with cheap student tickets to the theatre! And I love the fact that I can now speak Russian fluently and have absorbed, not only the Russian culture, but cultures from many parts of the world from the range of international students here at the Academy.

      My least favourite part is being away from home and only getting to go back twice a year 😦 It’s also a very tough, six day-a-week training regime here; you have to be committed to stick with it, particularly if you are injured or don’t get picked for performances. It can be hard on your morale when you work so hard! And, of course, it gets very cold in the winter (-26 degrees), so I try to stay indoors or hurry if I’m going anywhere if the temperature gets that low!

      Let me know if you decide to apply! Take care – Tala x

  21. Cassandra
    April 27, 2016

    Hello. My daughter was accepted into the year round program. However, I am concerned about the weight requirements. Must the student lose weight, and have their been students that haven’t? What happened to those who didn’t lose weight? Thank you.

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      April 27, 2016

      Hi – thank you for your question and congratulations on your daughter being accepted. I’d advise you to use the weight chart as a guide. The teachers here will tell you if you are overweight and they also tell you if you are underweight (in terms of the way you look) – and both will result in a slight mark down in your exam grade. The important thing is to not obsess about it and stay healthy. Tala

  22. Kat
    May 13, 2016

    Hello! I think it’s really amazing that you wrote down all those informations, it’s so helpful! And also your journey at the bolshoi is amazing! I read your blog for a while now and you are quite a big inspiration!
    I also would love to study at the bolshoi ballet academy but have so many questions before and am a bit concerned if I’m good enough..
    Maybe do it is possible to contact you and ask you private for advice and send you an audition video?
    This would be so awesome!
    Keep up your good work, I’m excited to see where you’ll dance in future.
    I wish you all the best of luck and never forget how far you’ve made it!
    Best wishes 🙂

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      May 15, 2016

      Hi Kat

      Thank you very much for your lovely e mail and I’m so pleased you’ve been inspired by my blog! You can send a link to me via the contacts section of my blog – that way it remains private – and I’d be happy to have a look. 🙂

  23. nepentha
    July 22, 2016

    Hi, how is the supervision at the school? Are girls allowed to leave the school ?

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      July 25, 2016

      Hello – thank you for your question! Supervision is good – there are staff on the accommodation floor and security at the main entrance 24/7. We have to have notes to go out of the Academy which are presented to the entrance security. Students have to return by 11pm at the latest. Students aren’t allowed out overnight without written permission form parents. Hope that helps 🙂

  24. Cassandra
    September 13, 2016

    Hello. Do the Bolshoi Academy students get discounted tickets to the Bolshoi Theater? If so, how do they go about getting the tickets? Thanks Again!

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      September 14, 2016

      Hi there – yes, students (any students) can obtain tickets directly from the theatre by the box office. The process is sometimes a little convoluted, however! You have to queue, on the morning of the performance you would like to see, and put your name on a list. Normally you have to be there quite early in the morning to stand a good chance of getting a ticket. I generally used to try about midday though because you then have to hang around until the box office then lets you know how many on the list can have tickets (this varies) which they generally do about 4:30pm! I wrote about this process in one of my posts – it’s quite frustrating but worth it when you get to see a great performance. (The seats are always up in the upper circles though). So it’s a long time to wait, unless you can take turns with your group of friends. Sometimes teachers are able to obtain tickets for certain performances too so it’s just a case of getting to know!

  25. Hailee
    October 11, 2016

    Hi Tala! Thank you so much for posting this blog post it’s incredible! I just have a couple of questions. I’m an international student that lives in London. Now follow me on this one: I’m 12 years old and I’m in Year 9 (British system) because I skipped a year and am born in September. I’m trying to do my GCSEs next year and my A-levels the year after that (basically skipping half of 6th form) because my parents want me to finish school before I go to a ballet school. So, if you finished school, will the Bolshoi Ballet Academy make you do the whole thing again in Russian? Because I’m a quarter Russian and speak Russian fluently (I can write and read but not well however I am working on it). Could you ask or find out or maybe tell me who to email or ask please? Also, is it possible to get into the school at 16 years old and still be eligible to get into the company (it’s okay if you could just answer the first part of this question)? Or maybe be put with all the 15 year olds? Thank you answering these questions because they truly mean a lot to me.
    Xoxo,
    Hailee

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      October 12, 2016

      Hello Hailee – you can join the Academy senior courses for their diploma on a contract that includes academics or not. The non-Academic route includes Russian language lessons. The Academy will offer you a place based on ability, not age, and will determine which year you should join. If you’d like any more specific information you can contact the Academy’s international department at mgah-bia@yandex.ru

  26. Katharina
    October 12, 2016

    Hey! I was wondering if there are any holidays without ballet-training and how long do they last?

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      October 12, 2016

      The holidays at the Academy run from the end of June until the 31st August and from 31st December until around the 12th January. If you’d like any further information you can contact the Academy’s international department at mgah-bia@yandex.ru

  27. Kamala McDaniels
    February 27, 2017

    Hi! I have a question about the academics… what were the classes like? Were they really hard? If you got bad grades, would they kick you out of the school?
    Thank you so much for posting! This information is so helpful! 🙂

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      February 28, 2017

      Hi – it depends on your view of hard – but I didn’t think so. Obviously they are all taught in Russian so you have to have a fair level of proficiency. You have Russian language classes and all of the vocational and academic teachers speak to you in Russian so you have no choice but to pick it up. The only real difficulty is fitting it in alongside all the vocational classes and rehearsals for performances. Hope that helps 🙂

  28. Cat
    April 29, 2017

    Hi, I love your blog! The information given has been so helpful. I actually applied to the academy for the 2017-18 school year but I haven’t heard back yet. How long do they usually take to respond, and if not accepted, will they send an email stating so?

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      April 29, 2017

      Thank you, Cat! It took a couple of weeks when I applied but that was five years ago so processes may have changed since then. Good luck! X

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This entry was posted on March 8, 2014 by in About Moscow, About the Academy, My training.
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