Tala Lee-Turton

Life at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy

A day in the life of a Bolshoi Ballet Academy student

This is a typical day in the life of a Bolshoi Ballet Academy student…… I’m currently in Second Course, the second year of a three-year diploma. We train six days a week:

7:30 am – My alarm sounds!

Although most mornings you can’t see much due to the heavy morning darkness in Moscow for most of the year, I have quite an encompassing view of residential Frunzenskaya from my window when I wake up.

Outside the Bolshoi Ballet Academy

The view from my window

I prepare for classes and have a good breakfast as I’m not sure when I’ll have chance to eat again during the day.

9:00 am – Russian language.

The first class of the day is Russian language in which we focus on grammar and language skills required for the State Russian exam – this we take at the end of this year and are then classed as proficient!  Consequently, this is the last year I will have a formal Russian class, however, all our classes are in Russian so there’s never an end to our learning!

With my friends in Russian class!

With my friends in Russian class!

9:50 – Double academic or acting.

Almost all our morning classes this year are academic, with the exception of acting twice a week; the Second Course acting class sees us studying the ways of portraying feeling through classical dance, as opposed to everyday movement, and we are currently working on specific scenes from ballets, such as Giselle.

Today is academic, however, История театра (history of theatre), in which we are following the development of Russian theatre, from its Pagan beginnings, through Russian Classicism, until our most recent topic, the famous Pushkin.  Other subjects this year include history, history of ballet, history of the world and culture, maths, science, geography, IT, citizenship.

11:30 – Pre-ballet class warm up

The next class is always ballet, which I spend an hour warming for.  I have a set warm up routine which I previously posted here.  I base my warm up on the need to articulate the joints, stretch and strengthen my abdominals and back.

12:50 – Ballet class

We have ballet class every day – six days a week.  Class starts with a full barre which last about three quarters of an hour, followed by centre work and finally allegro.  Our teacher, Natalia Igorivna Revitch, often adds pointe or repertoire at the end as well.  We are currently practising the Clock Dance from Coppelia and have already worked on variations such as Bluebird from Sleeping Beauty, Dulcinea from the Dream Sequence in Don Quixote, the first Paquita pas de trois and the Giselle first act solo.  The Russian training focuses a lot on flexibility and turn out; at nearly two hours long, it is a strenuous class that has increased my stamina and mental endurance noticeably since I started here at the Academy.  See more class photos here.

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

Tala Lee-Turton Bolshoi Ballet Academy

Having ballet class in the middle of the day is a bit inconvenient for lunch – but I tend to eat a light meal either just before or after the class and make sure I have a healthy snack at least a couple of times during the day to keep up my energy levels!

2:40 – Duet (or rehearsal)

We have duet class twice a week.  In duet, we practise set routines and lifts such as the classic ‘shoulder-sit’ and Bluebird lift.  I have a regular partner, Andrei, who I’ve been dancing with since last year. By now I feel we have improved our coordination and work well together- a factor that is so obviously required in duet, and yet quite difficult to cultivate!

With my partner in duet class - Tala Lee-Turton

With Andrei in duet class

We also sometimes have to use our duet slot for rehearsals, depending on what productions are scheduled.

4:40 – Character

In character class, I feel as though we are learning character from a new light; our teacher, Tatiana Vitalyevna, trained at the formidable Moiseyev Folk Dance School  and she is determined to instil in us correct and clean technique. She is drilling a basic few barre exercises into us every lesson to strengthen us and improve our character knowledge, while also working on various group pieces, for example, the Fandango from Don Quixote.

6:10 – Rehearsal

Sometimes rehearsals are held earlier in the day but this is the favourite slot as most classes are finished.  So far this year we’ve had rehearsals for the annual production, La Fille Mal Guardee and a character festival.  I’ve been rehearsing variations with my teacher, Revich, including Gulnare from Le Corsaire and the Spanish from Paquita.

8:00pm – Tea

After a very full day, I get to eat something, get showered, do some homework or FaceTime home!

9:30 – Post-ballet class stretch

This is relaxation time for me – I plug in my earphones and listen to my favourite music while stretching out.  These are some of the same exercises I use for my pre-ballet class warm up.

10:30 – Lights out, plenty of sleep, ready for the next day!

If you want to know more about the Academy, how to apply etc. read my post here on tips for international students thinking about training here.

Tala Lee-Turton Life at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy - portfolio Summer 2014

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12 comments on “A day in the life of a Bolshoi Ballet Academy student

  1. Claire
    November 30, 2014

    So proud of you, your determination & your work ethic. Tala, you make the art of your profession look seamless & effortless & I know what an inspiration you are to so many people young & old for so many different reasons. I have loved watching you grow (from 7hrs old) & bloom into this wonderful young woman that you have now become. I also know how unbelievably proud your mum & Grandma are of you too. Love, hugs & Kisses – Claire (using Hubby’s Facebook) Andrew, Samual, Eva & Ruby (your precious Godsisters) xxxxx (see you soon)

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      November 30, 2014

      Thanks so much, Claire, that’s really lovely! I can’t believe you’ve known me since I was 7 hours old!!!!! I can’t wait to see you all at Christmas and give you proper hugs xxx xxx xxx

  2. pamt1
    November 30, 2014

    How hard you work, Tala. Now I am able to picture where you are at any given time of the day xx

  3. Mike Martin
    December 2, 2014

    Wonderful to see this, Tala. What an inspiration you are. 😉 Mike (for the Rats)

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      December 3, 2014

      Thank you, Mike – that’s really kind of you! I was so pleased to be featured in the annual ball programme – what an honour – thank you!

  4. tutusbymonica
    December 5, 2014

    very very interesting – thank you so much for sharing this with us. So interesting to note the emphasis on expressing feeling in the acting class. The Russian productions are always so much better “acted” – you feel the whole cast is totally immersed in the story – makes such a difference. Also learning and studying Ballet and Dance History so important to understand classical ballet properly. Also interesting that you get to work with one partner for duets most of the time. Thank you – dont know how you find the time – but it is appreciated.

  5. Sylvia
    March 25, 2015

    Hi, I saw that you did the traineeship program for a year and I was wondering how many girls were in your class and how many were chosen to do the three-year Diploma program? Thank you

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      March 27, 2015

      Hi – thank you for reading my blog, Sylvia. There were about 30 students in my traineeship year, split into two classes. The reason I say “about” is because some students left after a few months and some just came for a specific period during the year. Of the 30, about 10 transferred into the first year of the Diploma (first course). Of those who didn’t come back, there were various reasons – some were not invited back, some only wanted to benefit from the year’s training at the Bolshoi and then move on (to work or back to their own countries to continue training) and some left after a short time on first course realising it wasn’t for them. So I’m sorry there isn’t a precise answer to your question but I hope that gives you some idea 🙂

      • Sylvia
        March 28, 2015

        Thank you, your reply was actually quite useful 🙂

  6. Maddie Irwin
    January 29, 2017

    Hi Tala,
    I am 14 at the moment and train at my ballet school every day along with the Royal Ballet associates very Saturday. My school offers the vaganova training and I really enjoy it. My number 1 dream is to dance in Russia in a company and/or the school.
    I just wanted to ask, how did you prepare for your bolshoi academy audition/how many hours were you dancing a week.
    Thank you, Maddie
    Also, you are absolutely beautiful and are so inspirational! X

    • Tala Lee-Turton
      January 30, 2017

      Thank you, Maddie – that’s lovely! I actually had private lessons at weekends and during holidays with Russian teachers, alongside my core training. They private lessons were at Bristol Russian Ballet School which is not close to where I live, so it was hard to squeeze it in, but it was so valuable in preparing me for the Bolshoi Ballet Academy way of training. I did ballet class for 1 hour and a half each day, and then on weekends when I was in Bristol, I would do 2 hour classes. I hope this helps and good luck with your ambitions xxx

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