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In September 2018, I was honored with the opportunity to spend one month at Moscow's highly prestigious and acclaimed Bolshoi Ballet Academy or Moscow State Academy of Choreography, a magical place that has fostered countless beautiful dancers and served as a temple for the world of dance.
It was the greatest joy in the world for me to be able to study with these wonderful teachers and mentors in September, an experience that I will hold close in my heart and never forget.
Every day at the Academy was a day of inspiration and discovery, full of moments that redefined the way I perceive the word "art".
I arrived in Moscow on September 1st, and was shocked by the beauty of the city, by its lively atmosphere, its infinite streets and amazing city center, the Red Square, and of course, the Bolshoi Theatre. Seeing the Theatre for the first time and even being near it is an emotion that simply cannot be described. Its sheer size, its grandeur and its air of significance makes it a symbol of excellence and perfection. The memory of seeing it live for the first time, going inside it and feeling its tangible regal energy, is a memory that has been stamped in my mind, something that I will treasure for the rest of my life. It's almost like life is divided into two parts: the part before having been in the Bolshoi Theatre and the part afterwards. Art at such a high level, with such discipline and genuine passion, is no longer just art - its a nourishment for the soul, something that we all need.
Seeing the Academy and entering it had a very similar effect. A part of me could still not believe that I, a girl who had started ballet just two years ago, who knew nothing about dance at the beginning and struggled with every part of it, was going to spend a month of her life here, in this amazing place. It was really a dream come true! When I entered the Academy (after taking a few minutes to accept the fact that I am actually here!), everyone at the Academy, the teachers, the security guards, the dormitory staff, were eager to help and very welcoming. This really helped me settle in, and gave me a sense of relaxation and ease. I realised that being surrounded by such passion and talent everyday must, in a way, make people happier, as I could see by the compassion of those working at the Academy.
I was soon brought to my room, occupied by myself and three other girls. They were caring, supportive, and I really couldn't have handled the hard work and pressure there without them. The friendships I built with my three roommates became priceless ones! The evenings that we spent together, our conversations and our trips to Moscow were experiences that made my stay in Moscow what it was: unforgettable. Their friendship is something that I will always hold close, and I hope to stay in touch with them forever as a source of joy and love!
My first day in Moscow was such a special welcome, and a great prelude to the experience that lay before me. The official first academic day at the Academy was September 3rd, two days later - story continued below the photos.
September 3rd: the first real day at the Academy!
September 3rd was one of the most amazing days of my life, a day that truly changed the way I look at and understand the world. First, at 9 AM, was the introductory ceremony of the Academy, held in its theatre (the Academy has its own stage where concerts and other important events are held). This was an experience of exploration, like delving into another culture and learning about it. The degree of discipline and love for ballet that the students in the ceremony executed was something I have never seen before. A true testament to the Russian tradition, students on the stage would receive awards, recite poetry, and welcome the audience into a new year of hard work.
A tradition during the welcoming ceremony is that the students of the graduating year at the Academy (the 3rd course) and the students that are about to experience their first year after being accepted last summer, or the "freshmen" (1st class, 10/11 years old) stand on the same stage and exchange gifts. The graduating students give them a pair of pointe shoes as a token of inspiration for the journey that lies ahead of them. It was beautiful to see two groups of dancers merging together.
The rector of the Academy, Marina Leonova, gave a long introductory address which perfectly showed her signature grace, while the teachers of the Academy were also brought to the stage.
September 3rd was a perfect opportunity to meet many students of the Academy that I myself had been idolising for years, following their progress. My mother left that same day, and from then on it was the start of my independent ballet journey.
Classes started the next day.
The classes that I had in my schedule - I was in 3rd class, or 8th grade for my age group, 13/14 years old:
*** The girls in Moscow who study there full-time from the first year also have other academic classes during the day in Russian - chemistry, mathematics, piano, French, English, etc... just like in a normal school. Since I was an international student who came for a traineeship, I didn't participate in these classes. During my free time, I would work on things from my academic school in Switzerland - assignments to catch up on, homework, taking notes on what I missed while I was away.
The Life of a Dancer
Living in Moscow was difficult - I missed my parents, it was a whole new environment, and the conditions were different from what I was used to. Though the people were extremely welcoming and I met a lot of amazing girls from many different classes - from younger groups, from older classes, and other international students, all of whom I am still in touch with and appreciate - the living conditions were hard. There were certain aspects of dorm life that many of us struggled with. It was our goal as girls living in the dormitory to support each other.
There is a weight chart that you must sign upon entrance to the Academy, and weight is measured regularly. Students must prepare for exams and earn high marks in order to advance to the next class.
Of course, all of this pressure is necessary - the life of a ballet dancer requires total investment into the difficult profession. You must be willing to sacrifice everything, and these sacrifices start early.
However, seeing all of this pressure, the excruciating pain, the hard work, was really a lot, and at times you can see the unhealthy effect.
There is a bright side and a darker side to everything.
While I loved Moscow, it taught me countless amazing lessons and gave me beautiful experiences, in order to achieve that level of perfection, there is always something lurking in the shadows. You must sacrifice everything and give everything away in order to shine in a profession which requires everything. It's easy to fall into a fantasy - becoming a ballerina is amazing. Shining on stage is a feeling like no other. But you must think twice before you realise what is really necessary to achieve this fantasy - this is no secret, every student and teacher at the Academy knows it and says it upfront. Being a ballet dancer means giving your 150% everyday no matter what.
Highlights of my stay
Lessons I learned
The classes in Moscow, the people that surrounded me, the city itself - rides to the center, walks in the parks, discovering the many sides of the ballet world in its very core - all contributed to the most important lessons that I learned.
Thank you to...
I would like to thank first and foremost, my Classical Ballet teacher, who was the greatest teacher I have ever had - both in the sense of dance and in all definitions of the word "teacher". Meeting her was the best thing that ever happened to me, and the lessons that she taught me, the opportunities that I had while training with her, were simply priceless. THANK YOU!
I would like to thank all my other teachers in Moscow - my gymnastics, historical dance, and Russian teacher - for all of their care and kindness. I truly felt welcomed by them and their careful attention and corrections!
I would also like to thank my classmates in Moscow for their inspiration and for their kindness. I am still in touch with many of them today. Their beautiful personalities, their kindness from the very first day that I arrived made me feel like a real part of the class, and made me feel at home in Moscow rather than like an outsider. Furthermore, their talent, their hard work and their passion inspired me every single day that I was around them.
Thank you to my wonderful roommates! The friendships I have built with you, your support, your kindness and the fun times that we had together made my time in Moscow simply unforgettable. I would never have been able to survive at the Academy and handle the pressure without your help and your words of experience - you were like sisters to me!!!
Thank you so so so much to Masha and Alexei, my friends in Moscow, who were kind enough to show me the beautiful city, bring me on excursions and take me to my first performance at the Bolshoi Theatre - a life-changing experience! Your kindness and generosity made my time in Moscow something that I will treasure forever!
And of course, thank you to my amazing parents who made all of this possible, and especially to my mother, who came all the way to Moscow with all her heart and soul to make me happy. I am forever grateful!
Thank you, Moscow!
Stretching is simply indispensable. It is necessary for good health, for ballet, and for general well-being.
In ballet, one must master the five aspects of physical development: turnout (opening of the hips), extensions (leg flexibility), back flexibility, feet (high arches), and jumps. Stretching is necessary to master these five aspects by developing each and every one of them, both by increasing your natural abilities, and creating new abilities. For example, if you weren't born with good feet and high arches, stretching helps develop them rather than making you rely on your natural abilities, which are often insufficient.
- reduce muscle pain and back pain
- increase blood circulation
- increase your flexibility and your muscles' range of motion
- decrease tension in all areas of your body
- reduce stress and increase calmness; can be a great method for meditation
It also helps you understand your body and what it needs, which can influence all areas of your health in a positive way.
Two years ago, I made a stretching plan for myself when I was just beginning ballet and my flexibility was at a low level. The file is attached below, at the end of the article.
It's a great way to warm up, or to stretch a bit during the day.
The most important thing about stretching is making it a habit - we tend to follow habits and routines rather than do things spontaneously. If you can make room for just a few minutes of stretching everyday, that will lead to small steps and big progress!
July 13 was a magical day, celebrated by ballet lovers worldwide as the great Diana Vishneva's birthday. Regarded as the icon of dance by international audiences, Diana is a true prima ballerina - she has it all, from technique and lines to artistry and musicality. She is a living legend, as well as a genuine, kind, and good-hearted person with a warm and generous personality. I was lucky enough to experience this level of perfection personally, and meet the great Diana Vishneva on her birthday, as well as dance next to her and learn from her expertise.
In 2018, Diana opened a dance studio in St. Petersburg called Context PRO, a place for people of all social classes and skill levels to develop their love and interest in ballet. It is located near the center of St. Petersburg in an artistic district, a very pleasant area with a positive, radiant energy similar to the glowing radiance that Diana herself possesses and emits.
The masterclass began at 11:30 AM. It was part of a larger summer intensive program organised by Diana and held at her studio, which I wasn't able to attend as I only came to the city for a few days. During this summer intensive, Diana invited several important principal dancers to hold master classes for the students, further following her noble goal of enabling the pursuit of ballet to all people. Her dedication to this Studio is a direct reflection of Diana's big and giving heart and spirit. Participants of the masterclass were recommended to arrive around half an hour before the start of the lesson. There was time to check in, register, and change before entering the studio. Around 11:15, Diana entered the room and everyone froze. Even the simple act of being near such a legend can be nerve-wracking, and certainly unforgettable!
The Studio itself was beautiful, a large, airy space with room for audience members (parents, ballet enthusiasts) to watch the lesson live. The people working at the Studio were welcoming and helpful, making the atmosphere extremely professional and pleasant. There were 24 people attending the masterclass, plus the audience members.
Diana began the lesson with a warm welcome, and soon began strengthening warmups (abdominal exercises, stretches). I was right next to Diana during the start of the class, an emotion I will always cherish and never forget! It was shocking to see just how amazing she is in real life, a degree of perfection that is unimaginable even to someone like me who has been admiring her for years. Not only is she beautiful, she is so skilled, strong, and flexible, the definition of what it means to be the ideal dancer. After the warmup, the participants took their places at the barre and the masterclass itself began.
Diana chose to begin with regular barre exercises - plié, battement tendu, adage, etc. She conducted the class with extreme care, always looking around to correct her students, giving helpful advice and tips that could only come from a dancer as incredible as her. It was an honour to get corrections from the queen of dance herself!
One of the things that I noticed when listening to her advice was that Diana does not only focus on technique - she focuses on the music, on the artistry, and on the beautiful, delicate side of dance. I specifically remember when she said (the class was in the Russian language) that when you are a ballet student, you must always do MORE. More than what the teacher asks of you, more than the exercise requires. You must always push yourself beyond what you think the limit is, and that is what makes a beautiful dancer. I will cherish this advice forever!
After the barre exercises, which were all thought out and designed with care and professionalism, we moved to the center, where we did exercises such as adage, battement tendu, jeté, etc. divided into two or three groups. Diana demonstrated each combination with such beauty and such care, that her passion for dance shone through completely. Even in the Studio, she looks like she is performing on stage. Finally, we did diagonal turns and combinations, and, in the end, jumps.
What amazed me most about Diana was not just what an amazing dancer she is, but also how kind and real she was. She gave such open comments and advice, maintaining a relaxed and warm atmosphere throughout the whole class. It was a true testament to herself as a dancer and as a person - she is an example to be followed in all the ways that someone can be an example, as a force of character and as a force of art.
Diana was so professionally motivated throughout the class. My mother, for example, has been a fan of Diana for a while now, always referring to her as her favourite dancer. She was also amazed by how engaged Diana was, doing the maximum number of exercises that she could, exploiting each minute to the very end, really trying to give the participants everything that they could possibly gain from the class. She even made the class a bit longer, genuinely willing to make the participants learn and benefit from her guidance.
In the end, a huge crowd gathered around Diana, begging her for photos and autographs. Each participant wanted to talk to Diana, hug her, and have the honor of being near such an exceptional human being.
I myself got her autograph both on a piece of paper and on my pointe shoe. I also got to take two pictures with her, and gave her a small birthday gift.
It was heart-warming to see that my perception of Diana as a fantastic dancer and a wonderful person was not at all different from reality. She is one of a kind, and meeting her as well as learning next to her was something that I will hold close in my heart for the rest of my life.
Thank you, Diana, for your dedication to dance, for your noble goals, for having the motivation and kindness in your heart to change ballet for the better. I strongly recommend coming to Context PRO Studio to learn with Diana and her staff. I flew to St. Petersburg all the way from Switzerland in order to see her and be near her, and I must say that every single moment was worth it.
Happy Birthday, Diana! Thank you for giving your fans and your audiences life-changing memories!!!
Finally, it came! The performance that I was marking off on my calendar for months - La Bayadère at the Mariinsky Theatre.
For so long, I have been fascinated by Maria Khoreva - a young rising star, a true prodigy mesmerising audiences since her early years at the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg. She already took the world by storm with her beautiful photos and videos published online, photos that I myself looked at for hours.
La Bayadère has been my favourite ballet for a long time. I love how unique it is, how it stands out from the classics with its Ancient Indian setting and oriental influences. I love the beautiful costumes, the thematic music by Ludvig Minkus, the plot, and the ultimate message: love triumphs over all. When I learned that Maria is going to be dancing Nikiya, I ran to the computer and bought tickets immediately. Immediately, I visualized her ideally in this role as a gorgeous temple dancer, and even though I was already expecting perfection, I did not expect such a degree of beauty as I saw on Saturday.
Before my visit to St. Petersburg, I would listen to the music from La Bayadère, picture Nikiya's iconic entrance in the first act out of pure joy and excitement. And on July 13, I got to witness it live.
One must admit that going inside the Mariinsky Theatre is a special experience in itself. It has a special energy, a special feeling that you get when you step inside. Just like in La Bayadère, it's the temple of ballet, where young talent nourishes its potential and where ballet stars can showcase their excellence.
After jumping in my seat from happiness, the overture began to play. The ballet was about to begin!
When Masha came onto the stage, my heart simply stopped. That's all that I can say, because for a moment I stopped thinking, I stopped breathing. I just looked at the beauty before me and I could barely believe my eyes. Just from her entrance, you could tell that it would be a beautiful performance. Every step was measured, delicate, and perfect. When she stood before the audience, everyone erupted with applause for the unlimited beauty standing before them.
Then, she danced her first variation: the flute solo. I always thought that Svetlana Zakharova was the perfect Nikiya, that no one could match the way that she moved her arms.
But Masha brought something to the role that to me was completely new and completely magical. Every movement had its own meaning, its own message. She technically perfect - her feet are God-given talent, her legs are always turned out, her poses always ideal, nothing to change. And in that first flute solo, I saw a star shining before my eyes. She had a stage presence so ideal that it was so quiet in the audience, everyone was looking at her, amazed.
Then, she and Solor, portrayed by the wonderful Kimin Kim, danced their first pas de deux. It was breathtaking, a living flurry of emotion. I didn't need to think of the plot because I saw it before me: two people in love, mad with happiness but torn apart at the thought that their love had to be shrouded in secrecy.
I once read a quote by Xander Parish about Maria Khoreva: that she dances with her head as much as she dances with her body. During this performance, I could see how true this was. At one point, I was leaning so far on the edge of my seat that I almost fell because I couldn't believe that every one of Masha's movements was so perfect. Her arms, her back, her head, everything was in the right place, everything was dancing. I would lean over to my mother every once in a while just to whisper to her that I can't believe what I am watching, that she is dancing like a true prima ballerina.
Maria was an impeccable Nikiya. She maintained her character throughout the entire ballet, and every inch of her was creating art. I loved her solos, I loved her pas de deux's with Kimin, I loved every single moment that she was on stage. Every time that she entered my heart made a little jump. Often, when you watch videos of a dancer, you don't know what to expect live. Will she really be as amazing as she is on these photos? But with Masha, nothing disappoints your fantasy. She is truly a prodigy, and I can't even imagine what an incredible career lies before her. I think Nikiya, however, is "her role" - a role that she was born to dance.
Kimin Kim was also magnificent. He is known as a technical legend, and that really shines through on the stage. Every single time he jumps, it's like he's flying - the audience went wild with every one of his movements. He is a true virtuoso, and he and Masha were a wonderful match. He was the fierce, technical warrior, and she was the ideal, delicate dancer. It was truly a gift for the eyes.
Highlights of the performance:
- Nikiya's Entrance, Act I
- Nikiya in the first act: Flute Solo, Pas de Deux with Solor, Confrontation with Gamzatti, Dance with Konstantin Zverev
- Gamzatti/Solor's Variations in Act II - magnificent!
- Act II Dances: Scarf Dance, Dance with Parrots, Golden Idol
- Act II: Nikiya's Death Variation (her dance, when she receives the flowers, when she falls to the ground). I think this moment was a huge artistic step for Masha, I saw her do the best acting I have ever seen with a young dancer - it's almost like in Act II, she developed a new side of herself.
- Act III: Entrance of the Shades, absolutely breathtaking music and choreography
- Act III: Trio of Shades Variations
- Act III: Coda (incredible fast diagonals for Masha!!!) and Nikiya/Solor's first meeting, when they are finally reunited in the Kingdom of the Shades. Here, there was a whole new emotional level and a real connection between Masha and Kimin.
I loved the contrast between the first two acts, which were full of variety and colors, and the last act, all in white with a whole different message and attitude - the contrast between Nikiya when she is first shown as an innocent girl in love, and in the last act, when she is already corrupted by love and destroyed. Beautiful emotional performance by Masha.
The performance truly left the audience speechless. I have never seen so much applause - the curtains had to be closed and opened again and again countless times, with the whole theatre giving a standing ovation and constant cheers. It moved me to tears, and I was really left with no words but only full of emotions and admiration.
It was a true masterpiece, and I couldn't be more amazed by the beautiful and ideal performance by Masha - in a technical, artistic, and emotional sense - and by Kimin. She is definitely going to change the world of dance with her beauty! Bravo!!!!!
Is ballet a sport or an art? A question asked constantly, with answers contrasting along a widespread range of opinions.
Ballet was born hundreds of years ago, meant to serve royalty not only as a means of entertainment, but as a new type of poetry: poetry through movement.
Though dance is dynamic, changing with the times, becoming more physically demanding and raised to higher standards, dance is not just a series of movements repeated over and over again, seeking the "correct answer". In dance, there is no "correct answer". There is the correct posture, the correct placement of the feet, the correct form of the arms, but there is no correct answer. That is because dance is not as simple as solving an equation. In order to create real ballet, and real dance, there must be something more, something that draws the line between sheer physicality and the true form of art.
When you watch a ballet being performed, it's utterly different from a marathon, from a swimming race, from golf, to any human eye. Ballet creates a unity not just between the body and the mind, but between the body and the soul. Through dance, emotions are expressed, emotions that lay at the core of your existence, that you can't say in words or even in actions. These are emotions that belong in one world only, a closed and secret world - the world of dance.
There is no simple way to explain what ballet is. Damaged by stereotypes, the true meaning of it is hidden beneath many layers, and must be deeply dissected to be unveiled. It's composed by a variety of elements, elements which form the final balance of a dancer. A dancer with great technique is not enough. A dancer with perfect musicality is not enough. A dancer must have everything, including that indescribable "something" that makes dance poetry. A touch of individuality, a unique style, all combined with the perfect movements.
Those that view ballet as a sport view it as a simple equation with a simple answer. To say that ballet is JUST a sport means that you are looking at the surface, that you aren't understanding the truth behind this art form, what lies deep down, below.
I myself used to believe that ballet was - at least, partially - a sport, in order to defend myself from those that say "ballet is easy", "it's not even physical work". Saying that ballet isn't a sport doesn't make it less valued. In fact, saying that only shows that there is so much more to dance than physicality. The beauty of dance lies in the ability to pour out your heart, to show what lies inside you. That is the way to touch the audience. Dance is so much more than just work with your body. It's a way to communicate with your soul, a way to communicate with yourself, a way to communicate with the past.
Ballet is not a sport, and it's not just an art.
It's pure poetry. A type of poetry that only dancers know, a poetry through movement.
On the 14th of October, 2018, Maria Khoreva danced one of her first major at the Mariinsky Theatre: the title role in Paquita, a Spanish-themed ballet featuring a vibrant, energetic, and good-natured main character. Masha took St. Petersburg by storm, adding yet another achievement to her already bursting repertoire, following her debut in Apollo with Xander Parish, Daria Ionova, and Anastasia Nuykina. From her first performance with the Theatre, she stood out a unique dancer with impeccable technique, a delicate style and a mature sense of emotional expression.
Mariinsky's acting director, Yuri Fateyev, was taken aback by her beautiful debut. "I was shocked by how she presented herself, how strong and clean she was," he says. "In the theatre we have a saying, 'Now a ballerina is born'. After Paquita, I felt like we had a newborn ballerina."
(courtesy of Dance Magazine, May 2019 issue. Article: Insta-Ballerina, Maria Khoreva.)
Personally, I completely agree with Fateyev's opinion of her performance. For such a young girl, a recent graduate, to be given an opportunity of such high importance, is already a sign of maturity and skill. However, I must say that one of the reasons why I became initially fascinated with Masha is because of this performance in Paquita. I showed her videos to my entire family, and we all fell in love with her delicate movements, her grace and poise, and her undying smile. Not only did she keep a remarkable stage presence throughout the performance: she also performed with impeccable technique, completing a set of perfect fouettes, and dancing variations flawlessly, using her physical gifts to add to her emotional execution. It was one of the best performances I have ever seen, even if I had to watch through a screen.
Note: Masha's Paquita videos have been uploaded on her Youtube channel as a playlist. I recommend you watch it - she was absolutely magnificent!
It was a shock, however, to hear that Masha was promoted to first soloist following her debut - a wonderful surprise! I found out through Nikolai Tsiskaridze's fan page on Instagram (@tsiskaridze), and as soon as I read the news, a smile spread over my face. For such a young talent to emerge is a rarity, and certainly a great one! What makes it even more special is the fact that we, as ballet lovers, will be able to witness Masha's career both in its fresh beginnings, and at its peak. It is such a joy to watch a ballerina full of dreams rise higher and higher in the ranks.
Following her promotion, a question sprung up between Masha's followers and all balletomanes around the world. Was this a good decision? Does Masha deserve such an honour?
My answer is simple: yes. A thousand times yes.
Though many say that Masha is young and inexperienced, a ballet career is extremely short - it is the career of a butterfly. In this art form, when there is talent, you must make use of this talent, help it reach its potential as quickly as possible - why waste time, when it's obvious that this girl has the makings of a star?
While Masha is still young, she has even more possibilities, even more opportunities. She can broaden her horizons, dance more roles, and develop as a ballerina. This promotion will help her become the best dancer that she can be,
Furthermore, we all know that Masha is not the type of person to become arrogant and rest on her laurels. One of the things that I admire most about her is her work ethic, her iron will, her constant need to improve despite her skill and inborn talent. This achievement will not serve as a means of laziness - it will serve as a motivation for her to work even harder, and to become what she is meant to become.
Those that hate on her for her successes are simply jealous.
She deserves everything that she has, and everything that she gets.
She works hard everyday, tirelessly, pushing through pain in order to create the best result possible.
While it is true that there are many other dancers out there that work hard and that deserve similar opportunities, let's not use this as a means to stab Masha. This was something that she did not bestow upon herself, but it was a token for the work that SHE has done, for the talent that SHE has. So let us unite in congratulations for this young ballerina, and motivate her further, while giving support to other dancers that deserve the same!
It is a gift and a pure joy to watch such a young talent emerge.
During my one-month long stay in Moscow this September, I was lucky enough to see Don Quixote at the Bolshoi Theatre with my two favourite dancers starring in it: Svetlana Zakharova and Denis Rodkin. It was an evening that changed my life forever and that I will never forget!
The first monumental moment was definitely entering the majestic building of the Bolshoi Theatre. After an early dinner at the famous Vogue Cafe in Moscow, my friends and I set off on our way. I could barely breathe and couldn't utter a word. I was simply taking in every single one of the corners, every one of the walls, every one of the doors and people in the theatre. It was an emotion that I can't explain.
After getting our programs and showing our tickets, we entered into the auditorium. This was the most incredible moment of all. One that has never visited the theatre cannot understand the beauty and energy of this room. The golden decorations and the breathtaking architecture astounded me immediately. The Bolshoi is the temple of ballet, and you can feel this royal energy in every detail of the theatre.
Eyes wide, I waited impatiently for the performance to start. Once it did, I fell into the magical world of Don Quixote and my eyes were glued to the stage.
It was, by far, the most beautiful and most well-executed performance I have ever seen. When Svetlana entered as Kitri, smile on her face and fan in the air, my eyes welled up with tears.
Zakharova gave a brilliant, outstanding performance as usual. There are no words to describe her. This is a woman that was created to dance, and born for the stage. Not only is her technique impeccable (her jumps were simple magnificent!), but every move she makes and every step she takes is that of her character and that of a ballerina. She shone like a star and was perfect in the role of Kitri. I often hear from people that they dislike Zakharova because she is "too focused on the technique" and "not emotional enough". This, however, is a complete misconception. Zakharova's every aspect is ideal, and the emotions and attitude that she brings through in her movements are as expressive as those of Maya Plisetskaya's.
Denis Rodkin was no less of a star than the beautiful Svetlana. His jumps made the audience hold their breath as he flew through the air. It seemed as if he would never return to earth, defying the laws of gravity. I never paid much attention to Rodkin, but this performance highlighted his brilliance and placed him in my mind as a magnificent male dancer, one of my definite favourites.
What I loved most about his performance was definitely his attitude and the unique flair that he brought to the role. At the end of each variation he shook his head explicitly to show the explosion of his flouncy hair. This was a lovely detail and made him even more fun to watch.
Apart from the two stars of the show, every single other dancer was unbelievable - this is no exaggeration. Kitri's two friends were charming, the Toreador and his partner flowed like water, and every single one of the corps de ballet dancers and soloists shone through as well.
Highlights of the show:
My two lovely Moscow friends who were kind enough to bring me with them had not ever been massive fans of ballet, and one of them was going to the Bolshoi for the very first time. They specifically told me after the performance that they fell in love with this art after seeing Don Quixote with me. Two weeks later, after I left, they came back to see Giselle at the Bolshoi - something they would have never thought of before seeing this magnificent show.
Don Quixote at the Bolshoi was the most special evening of my life, and something I will never forget. It showed me how Russian ballet is truly supreme to all other art forms.
Any performance at the Bolshoi is guaranteed to be fantastic. Please, please, please visit it and bring anyone who dislikes ballet - believe me, it will change their minds.
I was lucky enough to visit St. Petersburg for the first time this summer. It was so exciting for me as for years I had dreamt of going to this beautiful, imperial city full of museums, palaces, and... ballet! During the month of August, the regular Mariinsky Theatre company is on vacation and therefore the August performances are danced by other theatres or companies. I was a bit disappointed that I couldn't watch the Queens that pop into my head when I hear the word "Mariinsky" but I was positively surprised by the performance I saw, which was given by the Primorsky Stage of the Mariinsky Theatre. For those of you who aren't familiar with it, the Primorsky Stage is a division of the Mariinsky based in Vladivostok, a large city in Russia. I must say that I wasn't expecting the dancers from Vladivostok to be as skilled as they were!
I went to see Le Corsaire, a ballet that I had never seen before. Let me start by saying that it is an amazing ballet to see. It's incredibly entertaining, even to those who aren't passionate about ballet. My sister, who is often bored by classical ballets, loved Le Corsaire and was excited about every scene.
In the role of Medora was Anna Samostrelova, a principal dancer of the Mariinsky's Primorsky Stage. I enjoyed her performance very much. She was great technically, had beautiful stage presence with which she attracted the audience's attention, and she portrayed the character of Medora perfectly. I was especially astounded by her 32 fouettes during the coda; she performed them so well and so quickly. It was one of the best executions of 32 fouettes that I have ever seen.
In the role of Conrad was Viktor Mulygin, a soloist of the Mariinsky's Primorsky Stage. He was also very skilled and a great choice for the role of Conrad. I was especially shocked by his jumps. It was evident that he is a naturally talented jumper.
All of the dancers gave a beautiful performance, including the soloists and those from the corps de ballet. I especially enjoyed the three solos by the Odalisques. My favourite Odalisque was Yana Selina, who is a soloist of the main Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. This was evident in every movement that she executed.
The role of the Said Pasha was played by Sergei Zolotarev. He was so entertaining and gave the audience some great laughs.
Another thing that I enjoyed very much during the performance was the scenery. It was breathtaking and my whole family fell in love with it. Every single scene had a beautiful set and background. My favourite scene was "Le Jardin Anime", when Conrad dreamt of a beautiful flower garden with Medora dancing in it. The scenery during this part was just incredible. All of the dancers held flower crowns and it formed an amazing effect. (The set designer was Semyon Pastukh.)
The costumes were also gorgeous. They were so decorative and really made the performance even more enjoyable to watch. (The costume designer was Galina Solovyova.)
The fact that it was my first time at the Mariinsky Theatre made the whole experience simply magical. The Mariinsky stage and auditorium is so beautiful and there is a sort of indescribable energy throughout the whole building. During the whole performance I couldn't help thinking, "I'm at the Mariinsky!"
All in all, seeing Le Corsaire in the Mariinsky Theatre was a wonderful experience. The performance by the Primorsky Stage was a very positive surprise and I was shocked by every detail of the ballet! I would strongly recommend seeing Le Corsaire, visiting the Mariinsky Theatre or seeing a performance either by the main Mariinsky or by its Primorsky Stage.
Our favourite Dancing Queen, Diana Vishneva, gave birth to a baby on May 13, 2018!
She announced the news on her Instagram account, saying:
“So much light came into my life on this Mother’s Day, May 13, 2018. Welcome to our world, baby son! 👼💛”
Diana is now not only a living legend of ballet, and the most beautiful dancer alive. She is also a mother, and there is no doubt that she will be the best mother anyone could wish for.
This is the beginning of a beautiful journey for Diana and her family.
Alexia Dochnal, 15 years old.