Life at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy
Though February might be the shortest month, it really has been the most eventful for me so far this year. Last week I spent five days in Berlin, taking part in the Tanzolymp classical ballet competition. It was an absolutely unparalleled experience; I thoroughly enjoyed myself and only wish it could have lasted longer. This was, infact, my first ever competition and I feel very accomplished having done it. I was the only UK competitor and was one of the youngest in my category in which there were many amazing dancers who I found really inspirational to watch.
I arrived in Berlin the morning of Tuesday 18th February all ready for a masterclass that very day with Valentina Savina from Bolshoi, Stuttgart and Berlin Ballet, whose class was most like my training at the Academy because of her Bolshoi background. There were a series of masterclasses by dancers and teachers from prestigious schools, including Samira Saidi from English National Ballet School, Clairemarie Osta from Paris Opera Ballet, Valentina Kozlova from New York City Ballet and Polina Semionova from American Ballet Theater.
All the masterclasses were held in different theatres which was great as we got to see lots of Berlin en route, plus it felt great to be dancing on flat floors since all the floors at the Academy are raked.
At the competition itself, I could not have wished for my variations to go any better; I was really proud of the way I danced both the Gulnare variation from Le Corsaire and the Fairy of the Woodland Glade from Sleeping Beauty and had a fantastic time up on the stage. Taking part in the competition felt like a welcome breath of fresh air, enabling me to view the international standard and reminding me that all the hard work, training in the studio ultimately leads to performance on the stage. I found it a really invaluable experience and it has encouraged me to do more competitions in the future.
As I’ve mentioned before, I not only enjoyed the competition itself but the process leading up to it and am very grateful for the beautiful tutus and tiaras that were made specially for me and to my teacher, Revich, who spent much time and effort preparing me so that my variations reached the level of quality required.
The whole competition ended with a gala where I was able to see winners from across the different categories. The highlight of the gala, however, was seeing the guest professionals perform; though I’ve seen Semyon Chudin and Ekaterina Krysanova dance before in the Bolshoi Theatre, it was an extremely privileged experience to see them dancing the Sleeping Beauty pas de deux in such an intimate setting. In addition to that, I was lucky enough to finally see Giuliana Bottino and Rishat Yulbarisov from Staatsballett Berlin dancing Nacho Duato’s Bach; a performance I’ve always dreamed of seeing.
To see the photos of my performances, click here and here. I’ve also written a separate post (cos this one was getting very long!) about seeing the wonderful Staatsballett’s production of Sleeping Beauty and some of the sightseeing and foodie stuff that I did, which you can find here.