Life at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy
I cant quite believe I’m back home after completing the second year of my training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy! I left Moscow in the scorching 30 degrees heat – it’s not so hot and sunny here in England but I am pleased to be back and catching up with all my friends and family and having some holiday time. I’ll keep up my fitness and training, of course, training daily at my local gym, training with my old teachers at Bristol Russian Ballet School and I’m also looking forward to attending Prague International Masterclasses later in the summer.
Before I left Moscow, I completed my final two exams: duet and acting. The duet exam was about an hour long and was a demonstration of basic skills that are to be built up on in the years to come; first course (first year of the Diploma) is really laying the foundations for more adventurous lifts in the next two years. Our teacher Gusev is very keen to practise more contemporary takes on the classical duet exercises with us as he knows that, nowadays, it’s required to be able to dance in such styles, as well as pure classical.
For the acting exam, we demonstrated everything we have worked on throughout the year; this meant we began with a couple of simple group pieces, followed by, in keeping with the Stanislavsky method, acting exercises and finally the etudes (short studies). Along with the two group pieces (one in which I had to be an iguana!), I performed one exercise and three etudes: a meeting in the war, gossipers and funerals. It was by far the most fun of all the exams and a great one to end on!
Looking back, this year has been a real treat and I’ve enjoyed every minute of it. I really feel that I have progressed as a dancer and improved at an even greater rate than last year. I’ve also enjoyed the opportunities to perform and rehearse for shows – and I’ve made some amazing friends!
The highlights, in no particular order, have been:
– Seeing the Stars of the 21st Century Gala in September at the Kremlin Theatre, at the start of my year’s training, which I wrote about here. Many top dancers performed at the gala including dancers from the Bolshoi Ballet, Mariinsky Ballet, English National Ballet, American Ballet Theater, Berlin State Ballet, Nederlands Dans Theater and the Royal Ballet). My favourite dancer of all time opened the show, Evgenia Obratsova, doing a pas de deux with Artem Ovcharenko.
– Seeing Sergei Polunin in Coppelia at the Stanislavsky Theatre which I wrote about here. He was so charismatic and mesmerising – and I didn’t even realise he was going to be dancing that night.
– Performing at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy’s Winter Performance which I wrote about here. This really was special. I and three of my class performed with two of the second course boys and girls from the younger classes in a specially choreographed piece by one of the acting teachers at the Academy. I just loved performing on the Academy’s stage in front of all our teachers and contemporaries.
– Doing a photo shoot at Wentworth Woodhouse in the ballroom where Anna Pavlova performed for the King and Queen of England in 1912 which I wrote about here. – Seeing Svetlana Zakharova in Lady of the Camellias which I wrote about here. Words can’t describe the atmosphere she created through her exquisite fluidity and breathtaking emotion.
– Getting to know Gorky Park. Last year I didn’t manage to find the time to explore Moscow’s greatest park so I certainly tried to make up for it this year! As the weather improved, so did the frequency of my visits enabling me to explore and relax in this hub of life and activity in Moscow.
– Taking ballet class at the Bolshoi Theatre in preparation for the Academy’s performance of La Fille Mal Guardee and the end of year graduation show. It’s hard to believe that actually happened – before I only ever dreamed of meeting my favourite ballet dancers never mind dancing in the studios that they use every day.
– Discovering a new restaurant, Black Market. Who knew such a great place for brunch existed so close to the Academy in Frunzenskaya!
I wouldn’t have been able to experience any of these highlights, of course, if it were not for all those who have sponsored me or supported me on Gofundme and, therefore, enabled me to train at the Academy in the first place. I’d like to say a special thank you to all my sponsors and family and friends for all the tremendous support you have provided me with.
The year has truly been another hugely successful learning opportunity for which I’m eternally grateful- again, thank you to all who have shown me kindness and support. I’m looking forward to starting second course (second year of the Diploma but my third year of training) – до свидания until then! 🙂