Archive for September, 2012

Hello my fellow Bun Heads!

For those of you that keep up to date on my progress at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, you will already know that this is my final year! In just 10 months time I am expected to graduate and enter the big bad world of auditions and then hopefully into full time employment! This is a very scary thought as it seems like only yesterday that I was the very scared, timid new person entering the world of Bolshoi. This country and these 4 walls that I have been living in for the past two years are now the place I call my second home. How time flies when you’re having ‘fun’… or should I say ‘kept on my toes with so many elements of life to deal with whilst living here’! I have made friends here that I know I will never forget due to living in such close contact with each other 24 hours a day – it becomes more of a family unit rather than a circle of friends. One person I know will forever hold a special place in my heart and is entwined in a large majority of my memories is Miss Natalie Carter! The students here usually refer to us as the ” married couple ” as you will rarely see us apart and when one of us is down the other knows exactly the right words to say to lift the spirits in the room and vice versa. I am definitely embracing every last minute I have left here with my “wife” this year, because we just don’t know what will happen after graduation. It is a weird thought knowing that eventually I won’t be waking up to that wee smiley face everyday; the one that has become so dependable during my time at Bolshoi. Natalie is someone that I know I will never forget nor get rid off, indeed she has already informed me of where I will be seated at her future wedding (when she eventually settles down) and the frequent pictures I will receive in years to come of her own family! This shows how much of a close bond we have with each other and I do believe we will never lose this closeness.

I have had some very difficult times here in Russia, from injuries to illness to tears and homesickness BUT I would never ever delete any of the time I have spent here because I think it has made me the strong, dependant person I am today. People often say that it is your life experiences that make you, and make you your own unique person. I most definitely have many memories and experiences here that I will take with me and use to my advantage in reaching future goals that I will set myself. Most of those experiences have moulded the Hayley Stobo you are all seeing today and made me a better person for it. Bolshoi may at times have broken me down to my most vulnerable but it has also held some of the most surreal and beautiful moments in my life! Indeed, how many 15 year olds (the age when I arrived here) are able to say that it felt normal to be walking the streets of Moscow seeing such well known attractions as the Kremlin and Red Square… not very many! One of the reasons I am so proud of what I have achieved so far is that nowadays many teenagers are given a bad name for not making the most of their life, and most go through day to day life unaware of the things they could and should achieve, but I have been blessed to be given opportunities and when they where placed in front of me and I grabbed them with both hands! Even though I haven’t finished my diploma year yet and haven’t walked out with it tightly in my hand, (but I will be doing my utmost to achieve this last final goal!), I am still safe in the knowledge that I have done something that very few people in this life get the opportunity to fulfil, and the very few but very special years that I have spent here are something I can forever be proud of and smile about. I hope that the young aspiring people that read this blog have never been put off by my more serious and down heartened insights into the Bolshoi life because you all need to understand that yes it was difficult and yes there are times that I have wanted to pull that bun out my hair and give up, but this is life and you are always going to be faced with walls that seem too high to climb alone. That is where I have always been lucky to have the support on hand that I did, and often never gave thanks enough to the people that have helped me all the way through this experience, my family.

My family are the most special people in the whole world to me and I could not contemplate what it would have been like living so many miles away without their words of advice and wisdom. Those crackly skype conversations that frustrate the life out of you because you haven’t seen your mum’s face in a couple of weeks are the hardest thing ever because people just don’t realise how lucky they are to have their mums in the same house as them, to give them that one cuddle that doesn’t even need words to make you feel 100% better no matter the situation. I am not going to make out that I feel deprived of mummy cuddles because I promise you all I most definitely made up for it this summer and it was amazing! I am so safe in the knowledge that no matter how much time I am apart from my family as soon as I step foot on Scottish soil everything clicks straight back into place and it is as though I have never left. I cannot thank my family enough for keeping me sane and I love you all to the moon and back.

I returned to the Academy completely refreshed after a very interesting summer at home and I was very excited to get back into a routine of classes from 9am instead of my usual 11am start with a bit of Jeremy Kyle and Homes Under the Hammer on TV (!), but I also needed some well-earned rest so I was allowed a little time to recuperate. I used the facilities at my local gym to keep fit and also attended the Scottish Ballet Classes which are on a couple of nights a week throughout the summer.

I was very lucky to have met so many new and amazing people this summer who I can say have made a big impact on me, in a good way of course. In addition to this I of course got to spend time with my usual Scottish crew and I had lots and lots of fun out celebrating birthdays and having long catch ups over lunch and a wee cocktail or two. This summer made me realise that no matter what age you are friends will always weave in and out of your life but the ones that remain at your side thought the toughest of times are those you know will be there for the long run! Summer ended with my usual farewell family and friends dinner party, but this year an extra seat was added to the table for a very special someone that made the latter part of my summer have some of the best days ever. I just need to hope that he can cope with the ups and downs that Russia brings and the uncertainty of which country a dancer will eventually land in, and that he will be standing at the airport with open arms next summer to make that big cheesy grin grace my face once more. Hopefully another special person I can add to my list I already hold close to my heart from Scotland. I have to say I was very impressed with how I managed to keep the tears to a minimum this summer right up until my final goodbye but as usual the last wave is always the hardest and I burst like a wee tomato… saying this though, I am only human and at 18 years old it is still very appropriate to be a crying mess when saying goodbye to your Mummy and Daddy. I arrived in London and as usual the few hours before my connecting flight flew by as Natalie and I had far too much to catch up on and before we knew it we had landed in Moscow. We had a very long delay at the airport, a whopping 3 hours due there not being any taxi’s available, which was very stressful, but we eventually got one and were soon catching some zzzz’s in room 31 – our own special room since 1st year.

This year started off with the schools “Welcome back Opening ceremony” that they hold every year. This ceremony is very special to all included and I have had the privilege to watch it since first year. However this time was even more special as Natalie and I were included on the stage, all suitably attired in our dresses and high heels, standing in the 2013 graduating line! It was such a surreal and scary feeling as it finally hit me that this is our final graduating year and how well we have done to come this far. It is Bolshoi tradition that the Seniors (graduating year) hand over a pair of pointe shoes to one of the new 1st class children (approx 7 years old) and this year Leanova (Rector of the Bolshoi Academy) called for the passing of the pointe shoes. Natalie and I looked at each other with tears in our eyes and grabbed each others hand to embrace that moment of pride as we walked across the stage gazing upon Russia’s up and coming ballerinas, knowing that one day any one of these little girls could be the next star of Moscow. Natalie Igorovna Revich (our ballet teacher) stood alongside us with a smile on her face the whole way through the ceremony and was not hesitant to sneak a few photos in with our class “3 international”. The children also present all the teachers with bouquets of flowers and it is such a sight to behold. It is a very emotional day but also makes you feel very proud to be part of this very famous Academy.

The Genesis Foundation has asked me about my aspirations for next year after my final graduation and what I plan on doing with my life after Russia. Is there life after Bolshoi? I certainly hope so! I have to admit that this is such a difficult question. Dancing is a very unreliable career that never goes to plan, but what that does mean is that my life will never be boring -which is certainly a plus. The “plan” I have in my head at the moment is to audition for as many ballet companies all over the world as I possibly can. It is common knowledge that your first job is always the hardest to achieve and touch wood (with good luck) once your face is known and you have one foot in the door you are able to exhale and hopefully be in a more stable situation. I am planning to not just attend ballet auditions, which may come as a shock to you as obviously that is the main object of the Academy and all the work I have done here, but I think it would be more beneficial for me to apply myself into as many dance styles as I can throughout my career. This will make me a more employable person as a versatile dancer rather than only having one string to my bow (as the saying goes). I love styles such as contemporary, jazz, singing and even a wee bit of tap and I am so excited to gain a bit more experience in all of the mentioned styles as I know I haven’t lost the ability to pull out a wee jazz fourth out my closet and it will be interesting to see just how much of it is still lurking under all my ballet technique. This year is my most scary in the sense that I don’t have the comfort of knowing that next year I can return to Russia and have another year of training. This is it now, the final hurdle and countdown to my future in dance – there is no turning back and I look forward to keeping you all up to date on auditions, news and the ups and downs that this year will entail. Wish me luck and I hope you all have your fingers crossed for me.

This year I have a lot of academics to achieve for me to finally have my diploma in my hand! These include Anatomy, History of Ballet, Philosophy, Survival Class, Economics, Psychology, Politics and History of Theatre, also included are my ballet, pas de deux and narha classes. I am also planning to apply to companies for open auditions towards the end of the year as our exams will unfortunately be at the same time as auditions, so I am hoping to achieve some positive feedback from companies in the near future and hopefully they will let me audition outside of their timetable. I am going to do all I can to remain the healthy happy girl I am right now and I look forward to filling you all in on everything that happens in my final year at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy! Until then, wish me luck bloggers 🙂 xx

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