Life at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy
There is no form of summer training more ideal for the independent, challenge-seeking dancer than Prague International Ballet Masterclasses; an opinion I expressed in my review of said masterclasses last year (see my review here) and, therefore, making the decision to attend again this year an extremely obvious one. Prague is a great city, while the faculty was once again full of dancers and artistic directors I admire. The masterclasses are really well-organised by Daria Klimentova, former-Principal of English National Ballet, and her husband, Ian, enabling full benefit of what is on offer. You can see additional photos here.
The 2015 faculty included: Evgenia Obraztsova, Principal Bolshoi Ballet, Isaac Hernandez, Principal ENB, Nehemiah Kish, Principal Royal Ballet, Christopher Hampson, Artistic Director Scottish Ballet, Roberta Marquez, Principal Royal Ballet, Cyril Pierre, Principal Bavarian State Ballet, Aaron Watkin, Artistic Director Hamburg Ballet and Filip Barankiewicz, Artistic Director of the Ballet of the National Theatre in Prague, aswell as Daria herself.
Each day included a solo class; the first week with Evgenia, in which we learned Aurora, Third Act and Talisman variation, and the second week with Roberta, who taught us many variations of which Kitri, First and Third Acts were my favourites. I found these classes most enjoyable as they allowed me to practise variations I have always wanted to dance, plus it was so inspiring to work with two huge female stars of the ballet world at the top of their game right now.
In two group repertoire classes over the course of the two weeks, Christopher Hampson taught us a really fun piece from Scottish Ballet’s commissioned version of La Sylphide, Highland Fling. The ballet was an ingenious creation by Matthew Bourne, adding fresh energy to the classic tale in a tongue-in-cheek, often hilarious way.
Pas de deux classes were conducted by Daria and Nehemiah in week 1, where we learned the Sleeping Beauty pas, and by Daria and Cyril in week 2, where we learned the Black Swan pas. The latter was my favourite as I find it is rarely taught and gave me the chance to try and find the very specific type of character required to dance it.
I was also really lucky to be selected to do two additional pas de deux classes with Daria and Nehemiah which were being filmed for a documentary for Czech TV that Daria is doing. In these sessions, we worked on the Nutcracker and Giselle pas.
We also were taught contemporary class. I really miss contemporary while in Moscow so I was glad to be able to make the most of the classes in Prague, both of which were very demanding of pushing your body in ways completely unlike those of classical technique.
As well as the exemplar training on offer, there are lots of other things that I love about the masterclasses. There is an opening night welcome where everyone has chance to meet up – and then an end of fortnight get together to celebrate the hard work and achievements during the past weeks. I made lots of new friends over the two weeks, many of whom I’m sure to see again along to way – the ballet world is so small!
Ian keeps a blog which provides an insight for parents and others to keep track of what’s happening – I know my Mum really appreciates this and I’m sure other parents do. Also, a professional dance photographer takes pictures throughout the fortnight which are available free of charge, however, this year, there were also professional photographers doing portfolio shoots that, though at a cost, provided a great opportunity for those of us about to go into our final year of training and requiring photos for auditions. All the photos are here.
In short, it’s a great experience for dancers about to embark on a professional career – I would definitely recommend it!