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Archive for the ‘2013’ Category

Hello everyone,

It’s been a while since my last blog, and I have to say there’s lots of things for me to fill you all in on! I am now at the final part of my Bolshoi journey and what a rollercoaster ride of emotions it has been! It has been packed full of highs and lows, my life over the past three years has never been dull or quiet and I wouldn’t change it for the world as it has moulded me into the person I am today! I have fought tooth and nail with every emotion in my body to get to this point in time, and now to be able to stand proud (limbs still attached) and tell you all that my graduation ceremony is a stone throw away (June 21st) is such a fantastic feeling! The weight on my shoulders from the struggle of past three years knowing that I wanted to achieve my goals and also not let anyone down that supported me has all been worth the sweat and tears … I now slowly feel it all lift from my shoulders as I approach my last hurdle! Genesis Foundation, and everyone that has supported me and fellow bloggers … I have almost done it!

My graduating exams began with acting on the 20th of March and I have to say I felt very calm for someone who was facing her final dance exams. I had to perform two pieces, the first piece I was to perform was a comical doll which is woken only once a year by the full moon at 12 am. I had to show within my piece my realisation that I was no longer lifeless and the comedy aspect was introduced as my jelly like body slowly came to terms with the senses of a human body such as sight and breath and of course simple tasks such as walking dragged a little smile from the crowd of onlookers. This was a very upbeat and light hearted piece that wasn’t such a challenge for me as an actor, but it got my creative juices flowing and has improved my improvisation skills, which is always a bonus to any performer. Also the commission were present for each exam, marking us on our every move which made everyone very on edge.

April 5th was a day that the whole of my class had been dreading as it had not one but two of our final graduating exams … Ballet followed very closely by Pas de deux. The commission felt that a two hour break between the two exams was sufficient (forgetting that not only would each exam have to be completed within one hour and would leave each participant gasping for breath! But also our muscles would be exhausted and to follow on to another exhausting exam so soon would leave us not only mentally exhausted but also physically exhausted.) The tension could have been cut with a knife before our ballet exam and the nerves were running like a marathon round everyone’s bodies as the pressure on us built to its maximum for us to perform to the best of our abilities was piled on by Natalia Igorovna Revich. The commission entered the room and the hand signal was sent for us to follow and the exam began. In the United Kingdom its standard for barre work to be finished within 30-45 minutes, however our full ballet exam (barre to jumps then pointe work) had to be completed in 1 hour therefore barre only took a staggering 7 minutes!! It is safe to say every breath before centre was like dragging broken glass through my throat and my heart rate was raising double time.The second piece proved very difficult for me as I am not used to projecting deep and dark emotional performances to an audience , however as you get older you realise that dance isn’t all tutu’s and tiaras and sometimes real life situations are what you have to focus on to get the correct emotion for your chosen work. I had to portray a young girl who had been raped and subsequently fell pregnant. She is living in a time that abortion is not an option therefore reluctantly gives birth to her child. Although a child is meant to be the most perfect thing in the world to a doting mother, each time she looks into the eyes of her baby the past experiences of how it was conceived haunts her mind and one evening as the child lies crying she panics and strangles the baby in an attempt to stop the noise. I found this piece very hard to relate to and trying to find these emotions within me needed me to dig deep into emotions which are alien to me. I needed to project such a strong storyline to the audience and this was something that left me in tears at the end of almost every acting class and had me doubting my acting ability. On the day of the exam I was able to bring myself into a very dark place mentally and before I even entered into the exam room I had tears streaming down my face! After performing I looked up to find many of the commission members crying and this to me was the most relieving feeling in the world and at that moment I realised that I had achieved what I set out to do and that I am capable of so much more than I thought I could possibly do. Thirty minutes after the exam the marks were awarded and everyone passed with flying colours. I was personally congratulated by many of the commission members and my teacher proudly told the class “today you have become artists!”

It is standard procedure that as the exam finishes, we usually wait half an hour and we would receive our exam the results, however 3v boys had their ballet exam straight after ours and the commission were dragged to the next studio to grade their exam. We were told that we would have to receive both exams mark after duet … the wait was very nerve wrecking and certainly was not fun! The Pas de deux exam was very limited for most of our class as we were amalgamated with 3v Russian girls making the numbers around 20 girls to 5 boys therefore there was no way that each girl could participate in every exercise. The exam started off well until my partner became lazy and felt he no longer had to impress the commission, his true colours were finally shown as he let go of me a number of occasions during mid-dance and then in my last exercise dropped me mid-air through his lack of interest! I have never been so angry in my life and my emotions became overwhelming leaving me in a puddle of my own tears wishing for nothing more than my mum’s arms around me for comfort. After the two exams came to an end we had the pain of waiting for the final results. I must say, due to the events before I felt very unsure on how my marks would go, but I am proud to tell you all that even with the unfortunate events in Pas De Deux I passed both exams! Pas De Deux is really difficult to do with someone who is not 100% knowledgeable of how your body moves and your partner must be able to counter act the mini niggles and mishaps that sometimes occur during a performance. I believe this is something that can only be improved through practice and I have no doubt that when I am given a job that suites my dance style and personality then important things like Pas De Deux will just fall into place and my comfort and safety levels will grow with the right partner.
The 9th of April was my final graduating Character Dance exam and this one was by far my favourite. I loved this exam because it was like a performance rather than an exam as it consists of various types of national dance from all around the world and we performed each part one after the other, being all different tempos, all carrying different emotions and all fun to dance in their own way. I was involved in a variety of different group dances from Spanish to Russian to Polish and more. Throughout every rehearsal for this exam I loved building my own little stories in my head of what kind of person I was portraying and what background my character had for each individual dance. This technique is something I love to use as I believe that if you have a full process in your head of who you are at that very moment and are able to bring your emotions forward through thinking about your characters life and possible hardships then the audience will be fully in tune with your movements and your character. Included in my exam was an Irish solo piece which I Hayley 5choreographed alongside one of my new friends who started in the academy this year. His name is Alessandro. This piece was so upbeat and so much fun to perform and it had me smiling from ear to ear throughout. Irish dancing movement is not well known within the academy, and the quick footwork and rhythmic steps fascinated many of the judges. I absolutely gave it my all in this exam bringing everything I had learnt with the Bolshoi over my past three years, but also keeping my own identity, which I feel is very important. I entered my first exam classes with a smile on my face and determination to succeed and by God did I leave that exam with the exact same determination. It paid off (thankfully) and I was given a fantastic mark for my character exam, I really felt my personality had for once came shining through and it let them all see the true me.

To end my three years of training with the Bolshoi Ballet Academy on such a high note was a great joy and relief and is something that I can always hold dear to my heart and will never ever forget. Tatiana Petrova is a wonderful teacher and any future child that is blessed with her teaching skills over the next generation of Bolshoi students are very lucky indeed. I would like to thank her and Natalia Igorovna Revich for their commitment and belief that they have shown towards me over this past three years and I will use the tools that they have given me to build my career on to new heights.

As you can probably guess I am very proud to have achieved my results and to have passed all exams, now to finish my last academic exam. So fingers crossed and wish me all the luck in the world and I will keep you all posted on any developments over the next month.

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Hello fellow bloggers, once again another month has passed so quickly! I can’t believe we are in the month of March already. I feel like it was only a second ago that the world was celebrating the arrival of 2013. The past two months have flown by all too quickly and my journey here is finally coming to an end.

IMG_7010Bolshoi …as usual has given me very little time to sit back and breath and take in the pressures of the up and coming exams. My fellow third year students have also started to feel the nerves build and the tension has built quite considerably. The first of our graduating exams is in the month of March so we need to be ready and confident of our abilities.

Exam preparation has been ongoing since not long after summer 2012 however the extent of practice has become overwhelming following Christmas break .We are running our ballet exam every day. An “exam” for part of the ballet means barre and is finished within 10 minutes maximum time and the rest of the class work including pointe has to be finished within the hour to fit in with the exam time scale! At first this seemed like an unrealistic task and my lungs and heart certainly didn’t approve after the first class. However after religiously performing our ballet as an exam for the past 2 months I have to say it has become much easier, and although the exam will of course be difficult, due to the extra effort you subconsciously apply to the performance side. I honestly do think this time scale is tight but definitely achievable, and I know we will be struggling for breath after its finished and will be running for the water bottle waiting in the corridor. I feel the exam will be beneficial to my stamina when working for any future company. This is one exam that I am thoroughly looking forward to on April 5th.

The first of my graduating exams is IMG_7135Acting and it will take place on March 20th. In this exam I have two pieces to perform, one being very upbeat and playful and the other a complete opposite – this being a very dark, and full of deep emotion. My teacher felt it was compulsory to include two comparison pieces for myself as she felt that it was all too easy for me to play a more comical character, as that is very much in my personality. The idea behind the “depressed” piece is to show that I am versatile within my acting and I the ability to portray any emotion. I have to say this has been a very daunting task for me.  I can act goofy and joke with my fellow students and play the clown, but given something very out of my comfort box as in a dark emotion has been nothing less than a struggle for me. I am slowly but surely achieving my goal, and I know I can perfect this in the next three weeks. Acting has always been great fun for me and this new piece has opened my eyes to the fact that I need to be more open within myself and my emotions in order to portray scenes such as my exam piece to an audience. It has shown me that if you don’t “feel” what you are acting then no one else in an audience will either!

After the ballet exam I have my Pas de deux exam on April 9th. This is a very short exam for me because our class is combined with the 3v Russian course meaning we have about 25 girls to 7 boys ( 2 of which are first course male students). I have been unable to include as many exercises and lifts as I should due to the amount of groups and I have been unable to connect with a set partner because I am not constantly working with the same boy. This puts pressure on all the girls in my class and puts us all at a disadvantage, I also feel I am at a disadvantage now when auditioning for companies, as I am rather unsure of a vast amount of partnering work. however it is nothing I feel I cant achieve short term and nothing I don’t feel confident that I won’t perfect when given the time and attention. I love duet and I am sure this exam will just be a small stepping stone into the beginning of my partnering future.

IMG_7139The final hurdle of our exams is Character, and may I say it is without a doubt the most fun to perform. This will take place on April 10th. Character is so upbeat and fun and definitely does not feel like an exam in the slightest. Every class is like preparation for a show and the idea of the exam is to have it run like a performance with every dancer giving 100% effort with that all important smile on their face and passion in their eyes. I love this class because I feel I can really show my performance side and also my versatility within dance! I took it upon myself to show Bolshoi something that had never been done in past graduating exams and decided to get my tap shoes from the back of my cupboard, and alongside one of my fellow students ‘Alessandro Caggegi’, we choreographed an Irish tap piece to be included as a solo in my exam. My teacher was so impressed by this piece that she asked me to audition it for the school yearly practical concert, and although I was slightly nervous of entering a tap solo into a long line of ballet variation auditions, I agreed to enter. To my astonishment and delight my audition was met by great appreciation and went fantastically well! The auditions were performed over two days and a total off one hundred and forty participated with a final twenty chosen to perform for the school in the final show on March 1st . The experience was amazing and I felt like a true entertainer being able to bring a smile to people that are very unsure of this style and predominately only know of the ballet technique. Having my stage makeup, hair full of hairspray and my performing head on made me realise why I go through so many tears and stress within my training, and it is because the thrill of being up on stage gives you such a feeling of freedom and excitement that no other occupation could fulfill … it is so hard to explain to those who have not experienced it. But if the audience leaveIMG_7128 feeling as good as I do when I am on stage, then I know I have achieved my goal. Being able to take your bow amongst the vast applause that follows your performance provides you with no greater feeling of pride or thanks. A dancer is only great if they are able to capture an audience’s attention and hearts in the time scale they are on stage, and I hope that Bolshoi has brought me a step closer to finalising myself as a performer. Once again, it was a great experience to be chosen for the third year in a row for this great show and I feel very privileged to be given this opportunity. It was a great evening and one that provides memories that I am able to take home with me and keep forever.

I look forward to telling you all how my graduating exams go and I hope that you all keep your fingers crossed for me.

I hope to do the Genesis Foundation, my family, Maureen and Brian Findlay who have been such a huge support to me, my friends, and of course Scotland proud in these up and coming exams, and I promise to give it my all, and also show Bolshoi that I am someone that they can be proud to finally enter into world of dance! Until then bloggers, keep dancing and loving what you are doing ❤

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Happy New Year to the Genesis Foundation and everyone who supports my time here in Russia and also reads my blog.  ‘Lang May Yer Lum Reek’ … which means in Scottish … ‘Live Long and Happily!’

photo6The Christmas and New Year Season is over and I have returned for my final time to Moscow! It’s crazy how time flew past so quickly in the month of December and I honestly cannot quite get it into my head that I am now in my final hurdle of training in the Bolshoi Academy.  The past three years have gone in a flash and now all that’s left for me to finalise is one academic exam which is History of Ballet (which includes memorising twenty essays and the examiners will choose only two on the day and I will need to recite them perfectly) and also four dance exams which includes Character, Pas De Deux, Acting and finally the most important one… Ballet exam. Then my time and training here will be at an end!

December was a very busy month for me due to many aspects, which included mind blowing exams and preparing for my final hurdle.  But much to my delight, I managed to push past the barriers and achieve my goals.

I do have very mixed emotions… sadness, apprehension, fear, but above all excitement about what the future holds for me.

I landed at Glasgow Airport on the 7th of December to the smiling faces of my mum and dad and before I could even blink it was time to say a few quick hellos to as many family members as possible.  My mummy had to return to work so I thought I would take the opportunity and go to see my cousins and aunts whilst she was gone, and it meant when she finished work at 3 pm, I was able to be with her instead of dashing around.

I also spent my first evening having a mini catch up with my best friend Megan and we went to surprise the other special person in my life, ‘Michael’ as it was his birthday. The look on his photo4face as I entered his house was priceless. We had some dinner and afterwards all went out as a large group to a club in Glasgow to celebrate his birthday in style with champagne! It was a great night and definitely the release and relaxing time with friends that my body had been craving for the past 4 months.

However it was straight back to work a couple of days later, as I had planned to jet off to London to participate in an open class with the English National Ballet Company and also The National Company of Wales. I was very honoured to be in class with the very beautiful and talented ‘Tamara Rojo’ and felt I had to show that I was worthy of being at the barre beside this great lady. I can honestly say I have never been so nervous and it did show. I feel I am in a no-win situation at the moment because most auditions for companies this year are during my graduating exams and I am unable to leave Russia, not even for a weekend, and risk missing important factors which could jeopardise my graduation. This is why I decided to send to many companies in Scotland, London and Wales, to try and participate in as many classes so that their directors could see me dance. Also I thought this would enable me to see how I felt dancing in comparison to professional dancers. Unfortunately, due to the Christmas schedule, most companies were not at home but away on tour… but I was very lucky to be given the opportunity to participate in The English National Ballet Company and The National Dance of Wales.

The experience of open class had many ups and downs, and I felt, due to the short time I had in London, that I had to prove myself. I found I was getting very stressed and uptight with photomyself as I was comparing my dancing to those around me and in turn, of course, getting so worked up that I felt my dancing was not on top form. In fact I was embarrassed to say what school I was representing. My mummy received a teary phone call after my second class, and it just proves that no matter how near or far away I am from her she will always be there to provide that motivational pick up that I require at that moment in time. I will be forever grateful to my mummy for this as no matter where I am or what I do, she will always be there to give her words of comfort and wisdom! After a good night’s sleep I walked into my final class with ENB with a positive outlook on life and I have to say it made all the difference… the change in my performance in class and my technique was amazing and I felt so much more confident within myself which was a great note to leave on!

From London I took a 3 hour train journey to Wales and then another small train to Cardiff and arrived late afternoon on 17th December. Wales is very quiet and quaint in comparison to the hustle and bustle of London and I enjoyed walking around and taking a few photos of the scenery. An early night photo5was just what I needed before class the next day and I arrived at the National Dance Company of Wales’s front door at 9am. I had put my usual ballet bun in my hair, leotard, tights and ballet skirt on, and ballet shoes on my feet and finally made my way along to the studio / performance area where I was told the class was being taken that day. I was warming up with my iPod in my ears, playing my music, and to be honest I went into my own little world, when I eventually looked up. In complete panic before my eyes all the dancers were in loose trousers with baggy tops and their hair down… yes, you guessed correctly, this was a contemporary class not a ballet class. I have to admit I enjoyed the classes because although I feel my contemporary is no longer on top form it was a great release from the constant pulling up and tension that ballet puts on my body. I enjoyed my time in Wales very much and I am glad I travelled there not only to see this wonderful family-based company but also to see the beautiful country. My time in London and Wales was well spent and I am now really looking forward to auditions in summer. I feel taking part in these classes has given me more confidence to leap forward and be seen and take chances… which is a great feeling as I had feared that I had lost a little confidence, but this has shown me I can be all I want to be.

While on my return journey home to Scotland, I received a very exciting phone call from Karin (a very good friend of mine from the academy). She called to tell me that they had all been summoned to class to receive the results of our state Russian Language Exam. This sentence alone made my stomach sink! I listened intently as she told me the number of people who had photo8been given their pass certificates and I sat in Cardiff train station with every part of my body crossed hoping that she would also eventually tell me that I had passed. Finally I heard her say the words, “okay, I have left you waiting long enough … YES… you also have your certificate in Russian language!” I have never felt such a feeling of relief and happiness my life! I cannot stress this to you all enough! On top of this I am very pleased to tell you all that I not only received my certificate but also a mark of 83% which I am over the moon with! The amount of studying I undertook, and extra time and effort I put in for preparation for this exam was crazy and I can safely say I have never felt such academic stress in my life. I knew how important this exam was to my continuation of studies at Bolshoi Ballet Academy and to be told that my efforts had paid off was the most amazing feeling in the world!

I can’t thank everyone who helped me with my preparations for this exam,  I honestly feel without your constant support I wouldn’t have achieved this much needed certificate. I will be forever grateful to my great friends at the academy.

After all of the travelling over the last couple of weeks I decided it was most definitely time to hang up my ballet shoes for a little bit and enjoy my time with family and friends.

photo2During my time at home I celebrated my 19th birthday and after of course Christmas and then Boxing Day. My mum had to work over the Christmas holidays and this was very hard for me because my mum and I are very close and to be told that I was unable to spend time with her at times such as Christmas morning was very difficult for me. However all was not bad as she finished work at 5pm on the 25th December and my lovely Aunty Lesley was more than willing to have Christmas dinner a little later in the evening. So it turned out to be a really nice day! After the meal my mum and I still had our presents to look forward to when we got home, so I felt like quite a big kid because I had little butterflies in my tummy all day wondering what the guy in the red suit had got me this year. We also had a Boxing Day family dinner a day later as my mum was working again. She was finally able to fully relax (although she was cooking) and had a wee glass of wine with my auntie, and had some well deserved relaxing time.

This year was the first year I have ever spent New Year away from my family but the reasoning behind this was that my poor mummy was working over the New Year festivities and she would not be at home… so I would have possibly spent the bells alone as she had to be up early the next day for photo3another day of work! I have a lot to thank my mum for because the heights she climbs just to keep me in Russia is much more than I believe any other mother would do. My mummy (to me) is one in a million… she would sacrifice things for herself in order to keep me where I am and to help finish what I came here to do. I love my mummy with all my heart and I hope and pray everyday that I am able to walk out of The Bolshoi Ballet Academy with my diploma held tightly in my hands so that she can have the satisfaction that all the tears, hard work and sweat have been worth it! Hopefully then she will hang up all of her extra jobs and have the well deserved rest that she needs. I hope to make my mummy the proudest woman in the world and I will do everything in my power to make that happen!

On New Year’s Eve I travelled up to a place in Scotland called Ballater with Michael and his family. I spent three days there having some wine and enjoying the new year celebrations and being introduced to many crazy characters which was an absolute delight. It was great to spend some quality time with Michael, and in between the parties, the hills, the nature and the all round cosy feeling that Ballater entails I had a fabulous few days. I wouldn’t hesitate to drive straight back up there again for another visit.

photo7I had a truly amazing time at home with my family and friends and enjoyed the countless catch ups and gossip that my friends had for me, whether it was over lunch or a feeble attempt to hear their words over the loud club music. As the end of my holiday drew near I admit I shed only a couple of tears because this time I knew within myself that it was time to return back to Russia to finish my journey which started in August 2010. It’s rather overwhelming how soon everything will be over!

I have recently on my return been informed that all of my dance exams will be complete by the end of April which means I will travel back to Scotland for possibly a month and undertake as many auditions as I can. Then I will return back to Moscow for my final time in June to sit my last academic exam and receive my diploma…. Scary Stuff!

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