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I would like to start my blog with an apology to all of the people who religiously read up on my progress and also take a keen interest in my studies and the ups and downs of my day-to-day life at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. The huge gap between this blog and my last one has been far too long! I have to be honest and tell you all that I am quite nervous about writing this entry as I have had a few up and down moments over this past couple of months and I feel that if I finally write them down then it will make them more real in my mind, and they won’t just be silly thoughts that I can disregard and push to the back of my mind and forget they ever happened.

To explain… I have not been dancing for a month now due to a nasty fall which occurred between my partner and I in pas de deux class, which left him very distressed and me… well, shocked, stunned, upset and inconsolable. I was unable to put weight on my foot for one week (as I thought) and was subsequently off dance for the rest of the month. At first I feared the worst, but luckily I was diagnosed with no broken bones, which was the doctor’s first initial thought, but I did suffer from a nasty sprain plus ligament and muscle damage. I don’t think at first I quite realised the extent of the injury as I was in such shock with the thought of looming exams and an injury. I was seriously concerned as to what was going to happen. I was under the impression that after one week I’d be back to good old Hayley Stobo and be dancing and jumping around again, but I had a huge panic set in as a further two weeks later (longer than expected for me) I tried to return to class and attempt a little barre work and I was completely unable to point my foot! I was immediately sent back to the doctor and after some reassurance I was given further appointments with the physio within the academy. I have been attending every day since, receiving a treatment called “magnetic therapy ” which is when mini magnetic vibes are passed through my foot as a way to induce muscle repair and to give the natural healing process a little kick in the right direction to speed up the healing process. The good news is that there is no lasting damage and I will eventually be 100% fit again, but it needs time to heal.

This injury could not have come at a more crucial time as I am sure all of you ballet bun-heads out there are aware that “summer months” = “exam period ” and by God Bolshoi have a list of exams at the ready for me to complete before finishing in May! I am so determined to get through these exams and completely give my all (what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger) and I feel that if I sit in a corner crying every time my body has a problem then I may as well not be in this industry! Injuries are something a dancer has to learn to deal with, and I am not going to lie to you – yes it has been a tough time and yes Russia has provided me with more injuries than I have ever had in all my years of dancing, but I am looking forward with a positive attitude and the more I conquer now the stronger my body will become and the less I will suffer as a working dancer in my future career. It is best to endure injuries when you are in your training years, as injuries are there as a large learning curve and help mature you in the sense that you will feel and listen and understand your body more when dancing and have the capability not to make mistakes that will result in injury, and have the knowledge to know what to avoid in the future.

On a lighter note (slightly) I am proud and also saddened to inform you that this year Natalie and I where once again privileged to be chosen to dance a Persian modern dance piece that was choreographed for us by Russian choreographer and artistic Director, Andrei Alexandrovich Melanin. Diego and Alex were also chosen to perform this piece alongside us, and once again it was to be performed at the “Praktica Concert “. This is the second year in a row that Natalie and I have been chosen to perform in the school show and this was such a huge compliment to us both and something we are both very proud of. The down side to this achievement is that we never actually got to perform due to my injury. My ballet teacher did try to find a replacement dancer for the piece so that the others could enjoy the experience but in the end she felt there was no other dancer within the class with similar style of movement to Natalie and I, and so the piece was withdrawn from the show. I felt like the worst friend and performer because although my injury was not my fault, I feel as though I completely let the group down and I would have done anything to get up there with them and give it our all. If I could have gone back in time – but it was not meant to be.

I find as I am getting older (maybe it’s a maturity thing) that it’s really hard not to dwell on bad luck. I feel that when I was younger, things didn’t seem to matter as much, but when you are 18 years old reality kicks in – especially when your career means the world to you and you are living in another country away from family and friends. I tend to hold most worries and thoughts in my head until I can see the people who matter and can speak to them in person. It’s a lot of anxiety to bottle up, especially when you’re not home for long periods of time. Unfortunately, the nature I have tends to allow things to eat away at me and when something is so important to me I get really caught up in the negatives instead of picking myself up straight away and thinking “…you know what, worse things could happen so be positive and get on with it!”

Due to all this negativity, my injury and just down right bad luck, I allowed everything to pile on top of me and my system gave up and I became ill. My mum and I decided a week home to Scotland to recharge would be beneficial, so once again I got off the plane in Scotland and it was straight to the hospital to get sorted. This time though it ended on a positive note; after I spoke to the doctor it was found that the tablets I had been provided with in the past for recurring illness were the incorrect type and the doctor said it was no wonder that they were not helping in any way! I was finally prescribed new tablets and after a few days the temperature was down and the infection within my body was slowly leaving. All I can say to you all is that I certainly do not do things by half! But on a serious note it was the best decision to go to a hospital at home and have some quality time with my mum, even if it was just for a week, because I am now feeling 100% better and  really looking forward to getting through my exams.

I hope I haven’t left you feeling that I have gone into a dark place that I am unable to find my way out of. Sometimes life kicks you when you are down, but it’s your decision whether you get back up and fight your corner, and I will do that every time for what I  love to do. I want you all to know that I am back to Hayley Stobo and until my final dance exam in   May my work commitment and mature head will once again be screwed on and no one will be able to stop me in my tracks! Unfortunately my body has stopped me (just for a short while) from doing what I love most but I feel now is my time to shine and I am going to do my utmost to get to the level of dancing that I am proud of by summer!

I cannot explain to you quite how much I have recently wanted to crawl into a little ball and not have any contact with human life, but I knew that was not the way to deal with things and I have always been a fighter! It’s hard having niggles and doubts that put your mind and body into overdrive, but who would we be as people if we weren’t tested every so often?

Life is about growing and learning and my first 2 years in Russia has provided me with life lessons that I would never have  imagined! I am thankful for all the bad things that have happened but also for the good that has often followed. I know one day I will look back on this experience and say “I bounced back every time something negative or scary came along and I coped with the best of my abilities.” If I can say that then I will be one very proud girl! I believe that if everything is handed to you on a plate then you will never really appreciate what it feels like to do things on your own and the feeling of success when you achieve what you set out to do. I’m not saying that people are not entitled to a guiding hand along the way, but if I am able to get through my exams and my final year at Bolshoi Ballet Academy then itt will be my greatest achievement in life. And to know that I have done all this hard work myself – now that will be the greatest feeling beyond belief, one that could not even be described!

So my dear bloggers, my final exams continue over these next 6 weeks and it’s going to be hectic, stressful and above all such a good feeling of achievement when they are done so wish me luck! I am looking forward to writing a more upbeat blog next time and I promise it will not have as much of a gap as previous months.

Until then bloggers 🙂

Since my last blog life at the academy has been hectic but it has also been amazing! Classes have been very busy and exhausting and at the moment I am struggling to get any feeling back into my legs! I keep asking myself if they still attached to my body as the pain going through them every night is so intense and even if I could have them amputated I am sure it would not release any of the agony that I feel right now within them. This is mainly due to the intense work load that we have between rehearsing for exams and also extra work for other teachers. Anyway, enough complaining!

We have been working very hard every day for the past couple of weeks with a student teacher called Alissa. We were lucky enough to be chosen to take part in her exam class which will determine whether she will receive the teaching degree she had been working towards for the past 4 years. As you can imagine this has put a lot of stress on our shoulders as this exam will determine this student’s future as a teacher, and when you’re dancing on behalf of someone else a little slip or mistake could ruin all the hard work they have put in throughout their time of studying. The actual exam on the day was a jumping one, which Natalie and I were both delighted with as that is our key strength in class, however we had never been asked to do this many jumping exercises in one class before and it was very strenuous on our body. In the complete exercise there were a total of over 25 jumping exercises. I am pleased to inform you that although the exam wasn’t without minor blips we all managed to perform to our highest standard and were able to take a giant breath of relief when the teacher received top marks! We were later told by the commission that our class was one of the best they had seen in the school this year and they were very impressed! This is a huge compliment from such high-esteemed people at our college because due to being an international course and not Russian, being given such positive comments from elite Russian professionals was and felt amazing! While we were all ready for a mini celebration, the moment was then quickly taken from us with Natalia Igorovna (our ballet teacher) quickly calming us down with her comment ” Yes… you all performed well, but I want more. I have seen you can all do it so I expect your summer exam to be ten times better !” This sentence brought us all back to earth with a bump… this fine lady honestly puts shivers down my spine as I know how important exams are to her and the Academy and also to myself, but I am now ready to do my utmost to make Revich proud in May and hopefully we will have the same results the student teacher received! Keep your fingers crossed that I can do as well in May!

Also this past week as well as the teaching exam we have been working very closely with a Russian choreographer who is creating an Oriental Contemporary piece that will involve 2 girls and 2 boys. He has been rehearsing with 5 girls at the point in time, however this upcoming week he will decide who will be dancing the piece and who will be the reserves in case one of the chosen girls unfortunately falls ill or in a worst case scenario injures herself. I am very lucky to be chosen to rehearse with my fellow Brit Miss Natalie Carter and we are dancing our little legs off and I have to admit it feels amazing to be part of another type of dance and to focus less on my turn out and get my teeth really into another style of dance. The weight placement and energy put into contemporary is a lot different to ballet and it works a completely different set of muscles within my body… hence another contributing factor for the constant pain that I have running through my body this week. I am really enjoying rehearsing the piece and it would be lovely if Natalie and I were chosen to audition the piece for the “Practical Concert” which will take place on the 7th of March. All we can do is work to our highest level and be ourselves and if we are lucky enough to be chosen then I will be over the moon, but I will not be down-hearted if we do not get the opportunity to perform at the show as the experience in its self has been so rewarding and I have loved every minute of it!

On a less happy note a giant list of academic exams was put up in the academy this week which need to be completed by May, and my heart sunk a little as the length of the list under my name was so long! I thought I had been progressing rather sufficiently with my exams however it seems I have a long way to go and my head has been stuck in A4 texts of Russian text varying from Musical literature to History of Theatre all week. This is something that I can’t wriggle my way out of so it looks like the everlasting headache will stay until that final exam is crossed off. Nothing I can’t handle I am sure, I can only do my best (so my mum keeps telling me).

I had a little emotional break down at the beginning of this week (and no it wasn’t because my usual 10 Valentine’s cards got lost in the post via Scotland to Russia!) It was my mummy’s birthday on the 15th of February and last year due to being here, I missed it and I thought I would cope better missing it again this year… but unfortunately I found it really hard to be absent from her celebrations again. I managed to send her a little birthday card and a bouquet of flowers but it doesn’t have the same feeling as actually being with one you love on silly events such as birthdays. My internet and phone never seem to work to well here and fortunately Natalie put money on her skype account and it allowed me to call my mum to wish her a Happy Birthday. I have to say hearing her voice probably made the day worse as I could hear the tears building up in her voice as she was talking and eventually we both just burst into tears. In case you haven’t already guessed, my mother and I aren’t afraid of a wee emotional moment and it did help to lighten the moment… eventually… as we both also started laughing at each other. I really miss my mummy lots and I promise when I am home at the end of the exams we will go out and have a proper girly day with dinner and a glass of wine and chilli sensations crisps with dip yum yum (we know how to enjoy ourselves). Love you mummy and once again Happy Birthday and not long till I see you ❤ xxxxx

Thanks for your interest in my time at the Bolshi Ballet Academy. I will keep you all updated on how the final rehearsal for the contemporary piece goes and if Natalie and I get chosen to perform it in March – and of course about all of the other things the Academy likes to throw at me. They like to keep my on my toes (pardon the pun!) ha ha. Until then bloggers!

I have just completed my first full week back into full classes at the academy after my wonderful Christmas break, and by God I am feeling the stress – not to mention the burn in all my muscles!  Not only do I feel my legs are ready to fall off, I also feel as though I have slept on a concrete floor  for about two months as  my back is really tight – and don’t even get me started on how my face now looks without all of my of my usual  makeup on. I have bags under my eyes and I look as though I have not had any rest whatsoever… but I have got to admit it is my own fault! When you burn the candle at both ends (as my mother often tells me) you will undoubtedly suffer, and becoming the ripe old age of 18 really got me into that party spirit back home in Scotland!

The Christmas break was great on so many levels and I had a wonderful time with everyone in Scotland! Christmas is always a joyous occasion with the family around the table – and of course Santa Claus putting presents under the tree.  Santa was very good to me (as always) this year, but I did notice that nearly all of my presents were fancy clothes for going out… Not that I am going to complain as I wore every outfit to every occasion that I had planned. I will admit to you all that I probably never rested as much as I had planned to, but my excuse for that is that there were too many people to see and visit and too many places to go to.  And Christmas is such a busy time anyway, you never really do relax. I am also not one for sitting on the couch and relaxing for too long to be honest, I’d much rather be out having fun and catching up with friends; things that in Russia I am not able to do due to all the commitment to dance and studying for exams, so it is nice to totally chill and relax the body and brain for a while. I spent a lot of time with my cousin Shaunie and best friend Megan when I was home and it was honestly the best feeling ever just being able to talk to them without the interferences and delays in Skype calls or half-facebook conversations due to the internet crashing mid sentence! I do miss them when I am away but that’s what makes my time at home even more special because it shows me that I really have to make the effort to see everyone when I am home and then I feel I have not missed out on anything important.  Everything is that bit more enjoyable because you know you only have a small amount of time to cram everything in, and my family and friends make so much effort to make it special as they know I have so little time at home.

Saying goodbye is, and always will, be hard for me. You would think that almost 2 years away from home I would have got used to seeing that departure gate in Glasgow airport and it would be like water off a duck’s back, but believe me  it doesn’t get any easier!  I hate that final kiss and cuddle and the words “see you soon baby, not long until your back home again!” Even though I may now be 18 years old and officially an adult, I still blubber like a baby. It gets me every time and I can’t help but break down. I have mentioned in previous blogs how close I am to my mum and that I’m able to tell her everything, which I know is a very a special relationship to have, and I do treasure this and know not many mothers and daughters have this special gift. Of course we have our little niggles now and again but who doesn’t? I know I am very blessed to have such a good relationship with my mum and for that I am thankful. I think Glasgow airport is the worst part of my journey because I always have that thought in my head, “I could just run back downstairs and call and she will be back in 5 minutes” – and I know she has the exact same thought too! But where would anyone be in this life if they always gave up in times that are hard, and never pushed the boundaries that little bit more to see what the final outcome in their journey would be?  So once again I boarded my plane heavy-hearted, and as my plane departed I waved goodbye to my Bonnie Scotland and landed in London for my short wait and quick catch up with Heather, which always helps to lift my spirits before getting to the final part of my travels and arriving in Moscow at 8pm.

I was meant to have 3 days of classes before beginning my first full week back in the academy but in true Hayley style I had felt a little ill before leaving Scotland and with the long hours of travel and every other bug flying around the aircraft, I landed in Moscow very ill and never left my room for 4 days, barely eating and keeping nothing in my stomach. Luckily I had felt this coming on and already had tablets from home. As you have probably noticed I have learnt very quickly to know when my body is ailing and since living in Moscow that is a great skill as it hopefully means no more hospital trips for me this year! Sunday night I was almost back to normal, much to Natalie’s relief. She is honestly such a great friend and roommate as I don’t know many people that would be up at 4am sitting on a cold toilet floor bringing me water and the following night sitting up till all hours to make sure that I was feeling okay. It is a regular occurrence with us both – when one is sick the other plays nursemaid! She is an absolutely amazing girl and one that I know I will still be in contact with in many years as we have such a great wee bond here in Moscow that distance between dance companies in a year’s time can’t possibly break!

Monday’s 7 am wake up call felt as though I had just hit a brick wall, but I was so looking forward to dancing again and getting those legs moving and muscles working. Natalie Igorovna really stuck to the saying “no rest for the wicked ” as despite having a 3 week break, she was as hard as ever with barely a moment to breathe never mind shake your aching muscles out. I was gasping for air at the end of every exercise and unlike the UK, we are not allowed water in class which didn’t help the situation. The thought behind not allowing us water is that when we perform we have to dance long sequences without a break, so we have to let our body get used to being without – hence no water!  That night I had to sit for a good 2 hours stretching and massaging out my muscles thinking it was a one night thing, but oh no no, this has been my routine every night this week! Unfortunately ballet ended on a less positive note this week as my body was at such a stage of tiredness I felt I couldn’t do anything positive in class and really started to doubt myself and my abilities. My emotions then took over and I became quite negative with myself and got very down. I have been dancing since the age of two, pointing my little toes, hair in a ballet bun, smiles covering my whole face with the sheer delight of being able to dance around for hours, but none of this really prepares you for what real training to be a Classical Ballet Dancer is like. Arriving into my teenage years I always pictured the perfect ballerina that makes everything looks so flawless but no one ever tells you about all the tears and hard work she has to put in just to give you that image. Don’t get me wrong, I have never ever been under the illusion that it would be easy, but you think you are prepared for every eventuality that comes your way! Emotional isn’t the word for how my week ended, but I can only blame myself as I am the one that controls my head and body and sometimes I forget that. Self doubt is luckily something that I never came across when growing up, as I have always been surrounded by people who gave positive feedback,  but being in a school where you are surrounded with students that may someday be Bolshoi’s next star, it’s hard not to look, compare yourself and wish that you had something of theirs. And I know when doubt rears its ugly head it is not only a very scary thing but also very ugly thing too.  I know that tears will not make anything easier especially when I am so far away from home and I also know it can pull your immune system down too which also leads to illness, but for me it does help as it gets it out of my system, and I am one of those people who has a cry and then somehow manages to come back the next day with a new perspective and a much brighter outlook on the situation. 

My mum always has to deal with those A4 facebook messages that are just filled with stress and I would like to apologise to her for that. Although she may be my mum and always said that no matter what she is there to listen, I have realised that there is nothing she can physically do when sitting behind a computer in Scotland and only I can fix this kind of situation. Monday is a new day and although everything I have spoken about won’t just disappear overnight I will put it to the back of my mind and march on with all the fight I have inside me.  No one is going to hold my hand and tell me everything is going to be okay while I am in Moscow, so I need to create a new state of mind filled with positives objectives that I can work towards, and when achieved will give me a sense of improvement and satisfaction and also a kick in the teeth to those bad thoughts. I was given this chance for a reason, so for these next few months I am going to do everything I can and will take the bull by the horns and make a noticeable change in myself as a dancer, one that I can look back on one day and say “I had doubts, but look where I am now!”

On top of all of this, Russian language has hit a new level of difficult.  We have been told that our large Russian exam which could be detrimental towards our diploma if not passed is coming up in the month of May so preparation is in full swing. We were given a mock of what one part of this exam will be like and I am not going to lie I think I guessed almost every answer. I feel that because I am almost a year behind everyone else that my understanding of the grammar is not as good, but no excuses as it’s as hard for everyone as it is for me! I have not got my mark back yet but even if I have not done as well as I hoped, at least it will give me some sort of direction as to where I am going wrong and then my teacher will focus on how we can fix it. I have a new Russian teacher since returning so I will keep you posted on how my new classes are going and also the exam prep. However, I’m not going to get myself too worried about all of this because we have been told that if we’re not ready to sit this major exam in May then we are able to take the exam in the October of our third year, which is very positive as it will give me more time to get things right. I am a firm believer in what will be will be so I will plod on and hopefully all will turn out in my favour.

I hope this blog wasn’t too negative for you all as I didn’t mean it to be. On a positive note I want you to know that I really am determined to get through this year and learn everything I possibly can, take everything that is thrown at me and make myself happy in everything I face,  but also to show all that believe in me that I can do it and will do all I can to make everyone, especially me, proud. Until my next blog guys 🙂

Christmas is upon us and no doubt by the time you read this blog, it will all be over for another year!  The suspense and excitement of opening all my presents is killing me! I feel like a 5 year old again. All I can think about is being with my family on this joyous occasion and eating far too much food! And of course… the presents, I just can’t wait! I have had a lot of fun Christmas shopping in Russia this yea. Natalie, Heather, Dan and I found this beautiful shop filled with amazing Christmas decorations and I could have spent hours in there just gaping at the sheer works of art that are carved in every individual item they had on display. This sort of shop is what makes Christmas even more beautiful and special … and yes, I may have spent a few pennies more than I should have! This fantastic store also had a hand-carved box with an electrical presentation of the story of the nutcracker.  For those who are as interested in ballet as I am, can rest assured this piece of machinery was not only stunning to look at but was so sweet to listen to also, and very expensive… it certainly kept Daniel Dolan entertained which is always a plus when you take a boy shopping!

From there we had a little nosey in all of the designer shops within the complex and although the clothes were ridiculously priced, it was fun to pretend just for a moment that my mother’s credit card was an endless pot of gold and I could actually spend £200 on a cardigan! ( I can dream)… I managed to choose my mummy a little present for Christmas.  She requests a special little bauble from Russia every year, so I hope I have done her proud and she loves what I have chosen, and it will sit proudly alongside all of the other decorations on our tree. I have been a little naughty this year (more than usual) and told you all porky pies on my last blog!  If you are a regular reader to my blog you will know that I said I was arriving home on the 21st of December and I was absolutely ecstatic. Well, actually, I had really booked my flights for the 16th December and part of my blog was written to you all as I waited in London airport for my connecting flight to Glasgow! However, you are not the only ones I have told a little white lie to, most of my family and friends were under the exact same impression!  I was so looking forward to surprising them and seeing the look on their faces when I arrived at their houses.

I have to admit, though, I am glad Pinocchio is not a true story otherwise my nose would not have fitted on the plane! It was a lot of fun writing on my cousin and best friend’s wall on facebook items like “only 12 days left until I leave Russia for Scotland” when really I had my suitcase out and ready to leave for home. I have so many plans for when I am home and I really think I am mentally and physically needing this rest. I will still be doing ballet classes of course as I need to keep my body in training condition but it will be nice not to hear that alarm at 7 am and also know Natalie Igorovna Revich won’t be standing in my living room with her class of muscle exhaustion at the ready!

My ballet classes on my final week finished on a high note and I have been happy with my slow but none the less steady progress so far.  Revich gave me alot of corrections to think about over Christmas and I am really glad to have that peace of mind that she is paying attention to me in class and above all, that I am beginning to make an impression. She admitted to me  after my long injury-ridden break that she was very worried about me returning to the academy as she thought all of the Russian technique that she had taught me would have been forgotten, not on purpose, but as my body was so tuned into UK technique it was just so easy to fall back into old habits. However, after a lot of tears and hard work for not only me but her also I am getting there and she said she is happy with what she is seeing. She believes I have lost weight through the workload and is happy with how my body is changing and said there is no need to fret over weight issues now as my main priority is class and above all – improvement! I absolutely love Revich. She is one of the most caring and understanding women I have ever met. At our last ballet class, Natalie and I gave her a big bunch of flowers as a small thank you, but if I am honest, no present could really provide the true thanks that we feel towards her. We will be going back after Christmas feeling refreshed and ready to work our British behinds off to give her the exam class she requires and also expects from us. So wish us luck!

In our last week at the academy Natalie and I only had ballet class everyday and no academics!  This is because in order to leave the academy we have to hand in all the books we have taken out of the library, so there was no language class.  Our Narha teacher had to go home for personal reasons so I hope all is well for her and our acting teacher was ill so I hope she has a speedy recovery! I suppose it was nice for us to have the extra time to really get everything sorted and have last minute bits and bobs bought and thrown in the suitcases.  Poor Heather still had all of her dance classes on so she would come in gasping for water as Natalie and I looked on in our jammies (pyjamas) with a Christmas film playing… such good room mates we are eh? Sorry Heather! I am also pleased to report that I have managed to pass all my exams to date,  which is a great weight off my mind, but there is a long way to go and a lot of hard work faces us when we return… no resting on our laurels!

As I arrived home into all the chaos of Christmas cheer, it was time to get everything ready for my 18th birthday celebrations and also Christmas Day! My mum and I had to get my dress fitted and also organise the balloons and venue where I was having my party. It was very festive indeed and a great time was had by all! Thanks to everyone who were involved and managed to come along to be part of my 18th birthday bash. It was great to see old faces again! I love you all, but I was also so sorry to see my little Natalie couldn’t make it due to technical difficulties with her car, and since she lives in London it certainly is not a couple of miles away, so Natalie, Dan, Heather and I will just have to have our own little party when we return to Russia!

I do hope everyone has a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! Spend time with all the people you love, after all that is what Christmas is all about!! Raise a glass  to a very successful 2012!  All the best from Scotland!

Not long until Christmas!

Another month has come and gone and it’s scary to think that Santa’s big belly and white beard is almost peeking round the corner and that can only mean one thing… Christmas and home!

The Christmas countdown has begun and we are almost into single figures, which is a huge improvement from the “we only have 100 days to go ” that we started with! This routine may seem a tad unusual to many people who do not live away from home, as well as my family and friends, but I can promise you that this countdown most certainly keeps Miss Carter and myself sane. After counting many months of not having our families here with us, it gives us another focus other than constant dance and exams, and after many tedious weeks of hard work, sweat and tears, we can finally tick that last day in the calendar and it’s home!

As I had mentioned in my last blog the “Joffrey Company ” from Chicago came to the Academy and I was very privileged to be able to take part in one of their contemporary workshop days which was open to all of the students within the school. It was very busy indeed and hard to dance in the studio due to having so many students in a limited space, but it was a resounding success! They decided to choreograph a small piece, which was very neoclassical based and they provided all the students who are usually predominantly classically trained, a very modern twist into their dance routine. They are hoping to use this piece sometime in the not so distant future.

Unfortunately on this occasion I was not selected to take part but I took it as a very constructive learning experience and it also gave me a chance to work my body to its full potential. I found it very similar to how I previously used my body in Scotland, which was really nice for a change. However, I am pleased to say that my fellow Brit Daniel Dolan was chosen to perform in the piece and we are all very proud of him. Show them what us Brits are made of Dan!

The contemporary fun day was short-lived for many as it was back to our ballet-filled day a few hours later. For me, ballet has had many up and down days at the moment but no matter where you are in the ballet world, whether it is London, Scotland or Russia this will always be inevitable. I am very hard and critical on myself as a dancer and as a person and I always want to do and be better. I am my very own worst enemy! Every dancer aspires for perfection but for most, this dream will never happen. This is not because the person may not have as much drive as the next dancer or does not work as hard in class, usually is it to do with the make up of your body. Bones are set, unlike muscle which can be sculpted and changed, and it has taken me a very long time to accept this fact. I may not have a 180 degree turn out, or the physique of most Russian ballet dancers, but what I do have is the love and desire and commitment to be a success in my chosen career. Not every dancer will be Svetlana Zaharova or Natalie Osipova because if everyone was the same, the dance world would be very boring indeed! I have come to understand that an audience and teacher would much rather witness a dancer that does not have everything technically perfect, but one who has drive in their eyes and emotion in their body as they dance, and above all takes a small step every day towards their ideal. A step that little bit better… but not perfect!

Natalia Igornova Revich took me aside in class the other day after one of the worst classes I have had since returning to Russia. I could not contain my tears any longer and was so emotional because I knew I was capable of giving so much more! Her wise words and comfort has always meant the world to me and it was today, after pondering over her wise words, that my class was once again filled with laughter and a pirouette or two! My mum always taught me to allow myself time to let all my negative emotion go and the next day brush myself off and come back fighting harder than the previous days and that is what I always intend to do! I want all young aspiring dancers to think about these points, as I feel that if you can come to terms with the “flaws ” you see in your dancing or yourself as a person, you may find that they are what will make others love you and will make you, not break you. Be yourself and work to your own maximum, no one elses.

On a lighter note, I have had a very productive couple of weeks in Narha in preparation for our end of year exams. I know this may seem very early but believe me with the amount of dances we have to learn for this exam I should have started learning when I was 12 years old ha ha . I absolutely love this class because the teacher makes me feel so good and without even speaking, makes me want to work even harder in her class – which is very impressive indeed! Before class one day, an American girl called Precious Adams and I were messing about and I was showing her tap movements which I had been taught in my advanced 2 exam in Scotland. Little did I know my teacher was watching us from the door and after class she informed me that she now wants me to perform a tap solo in my Narha exam! Those who know me from Scotland can imagine how I reacted to this proposition as believe me, tap was not one of my strongest dance points in earlier training. However, I am very flattered by how Tatiana Petrova has seen so much potential in this part of my dance technique and has also had so much faith in my ability to perform my tap as an exam – but if she’s willing to choreograph a piece for me then I am more than willing to add a little “Frank Sinatra ” into the exam!

As I said before, it’s not long until I will be home in Bonnie Scotland and that thought brings such a rush of excitement. I cannot wait to see my family and friends and of course party in Glasgow for my 18th birthday bash! My poor mummy was under the impression that now I will have my own ID (identification, which you need to get when you’re 18 years old so you can access the night clubs ) she wouldn’t be seeing me at all during my time at home, but I am afraid she is stuck with me for as long as she can cope with, as I am dying for our own little movie nights together and a cheeky cuddle or two. I have missed her far too much over these past four months and it has probably been one of the hardest in terms of homesickness that I have had so far, but as soon as I step foot on Scottish soil all that will be forgotten. The Christmas and family period will have begun! Roll on the 21st of December!

Russian language classes have become even more intense and the work load is piling on but it is nothing Miss Carter and I can’t handle. Whilst Natalie learns most of the verbal exams in one night, her more challenged room mate has to start 3 days previous! However, I don’t care how long it takes me as I have been managing to pass all of my exams so far and I am very pleased with myself. Only 4 more exams to sit, then goodbye exams and hello relaxation for just a little over 3 weeks.

I will write another blog for you all just before I leave for home as I’m sure there will be a few funny Christmas shopping pictures for you to enjoy! Have a good week everyone.

An overdue catch up!

Another few weeks have come and gone at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and the way the months are passing so quickly is rather scary, not enough hours in the day to cram everything in that I need to learn, but on a high note it can only also mean one thing… Christmas holidays are approaching! These whirl wind weeks also include the fact that Natalie and I don’t finish till nearly 6 o’clock every night and half past 4 on a Saturday, so we don’t really have much of a weekend either to relax. These very long days and weeks are really taking their toll on my body and I feel l should invest in some matchsticks to hold my eyes open for me to attend my 8:45 ballet class. You really have to love Natalia Igorovnas’ (Revich) enthusiasm in the morning, she is so full of energy and if she had her way we would be half way through barre by 8am!

This week in acting we are focusing less on dramatic acting and more on how to input emotions into our dance movements and how to tell the story of a ballet without words. Mariana Mikhailovna (my teacher) has set us an exercise in our pairs in which one of us has to be a figure of the imagination trying to force a certain feeling onto the other human characters’ mind. Once again I was paired with my little Carts (Natalie) and we decided not to choreograph certain movements or positions but go for something a little more spontaneous. The final result was us creating a small contemporary rehearsed improvisation dance and our teacher loved it so much that at the end of class asked us if we liked to perform contemporary as we both work so well together. It also gave her an idea for our third course exams and while the rest of our class may be performing more classical acting pieces, it looks like Natalie and I may be throwing the ballets shoes to one side and replacing them with bare-footed contemporary moves. Every dancer needs to be able to change their style of dance in an instant so I am looking forward to the challenge of a contemporary piece – we had better get our heads together and conjure up some good ideas!

The Academy has had two performances of La Fille mal Gardée in the old Bolshoi Theatre in the past week and from what I have heard it was fantastic. Daniel Dolan (mine and Natalie’s partner in crime, also from London) was lucky enough to dance in the performances and although Natalie and myself got to see the rehearsals in the school we never managed to see the final performance as it was sold out! This was really upsetting for us as it would have been great to be there and support our fellow Briton, but from the pictures he posted on facebook, he looked amazing! Well done to everyone involved and of course to my friends Mario and Joy who were the lead roles of the show and are great representatives for both the school and America! Each and everyone who performed were stars!

A very last minute holiday was thrown upon us starting from Friday 4th until Wednesday 9th November and although I would have loved to have gone home to surprise family and my best friend Megan, this was not possible due to only finding out at the last minute and the cost of flights. So instead Natalie, Heather and I went a little Christmas shopping and had a lot of fun trying on hats and anything else interesting that we could find in the local shops! We even managed some photo opportunities which will more than please my mother as she has been nagging at me to get more pictures for her to look at and keep as memories of my time in Russia… it’s great sometimes when your mammy can only nag via skype as a mute button on the computer is a great thing! Ha ha, only kidding mother.

On our first day off it was great to finally have a long lie in bed which was much appreciated, but no rest for the wicked as we had a phone call from Revich to inform us a ballet class had been added in for Saturday! All my class were under the impression that we had Saturday off as well and some of the girls had bought tickets for a show in the Kremlin, unlike Natalie and me, who decided to be lazy. That plan was laid to rest and we plodded on down to our one and only class of the day along with two other girls. Instead of Revich giving us all a bit of sympathy – she did not utter the words “girls you four can just rest!” – oh no no, not at all! We received 2 and half hours of exhausting but rewarding pointe work! After our torture, the four of us crawled out of class with blisters covering our feet! Oh the life of a ballet dancer. Even though the class itself was very intense it was great having so little pupils in a class situation, as Revich was able to give us all her undivided attention and we were given corrections just for yourself rather than a general “higher legs!”, which is normally given as an instruction to the whole class. You will be pleased to know I managed to fall on my bottom only once on this occasion. This seems to be becoming a weekly occurrence so I was very pleased with myself that it was only the once! I am thinking though that it should be my new party trick for the future… All joking aside though I did not hurt myself in any way and it’s lucky I was blessed with the family gene of a very solid derriere, which bounces you straight back up!

The joy of a holiday was short lived as after class we were told we have a workshop on both Tuesday and Wednesday with America’s premier ballet company ‘Joffrey Ballet’ who originate from Chicago. We haven’t been told much regarding this workshop yet but I do know the whole school will be involved, ten full classes of girls with 15 in each in total – all struggling to get into one studio at the same time – it’s going to be a squeeze! I am really looking forward to it though, and hopefully I will manage to be part of it and even better if they teach in English, now that would be music to my ears! A girl can dream!! Although it wouldn’t be fair on the Russian students if the workshop was only in English, so I’ll need to get my Russian head back on and work my bottom off. I will tell you all about it in my next blog.

Academics are still ongoing and very hard; I try very hard to find the fun element in translating and memorising large texts of Russian history! Not easy when you are not blessed with the gift of learning various languages, but I am getting there slowly but surely and it will all be worth it in the end. I am still doing my very best to get through all the exams, and touch wood I have managed so far.

As I had mentioned above my best friend Megan, who is more like a sister, celebrated her 18th birthday last weekend so ‘Happy Birthday Megan’. From what I hear it was a crazy night and I was very sad to miss it. I was really upset when I couldn’t get home to surprise her as the look on her face when I appeared on her doorstep would have been priceless! But it was not to be and it just means we are going to have to double the birthday trouble when I return to Scotland for my 18th birthday which is the 22nd December – it isn’t long away Megan! I love and miss her so much but it won’t be long until we can show Glasgow how it’s done Mitchell and Stobo style – YESSS!!

Unfortunately I also missed my little cousin Mark’s birthday and when I skyped him during his birthday celebrations the tears streamed down my face and the lump in my throat was unbearable. I hate missing little things like birthdays and silly dinners as I feel as though I am missing out on quality time with my family. I have a very close family and my mum and I have a relationship which is even closer so it upsets me to be so far away from them. All of those tears stopped though when I saw my mum get upset at the side of the video screen. I know how hard it is for my mum having me so many miles away and when I hurt I know it hits her ten times harder. She is honestly the best mum in the world as I don’t know many women who could stand to see their child cry and be able to hold it together so well. I say ‘well’ but I do know she has her moments and is very upset when our skype call ends. I don’t know where I would be without my mum and my family and I love them to the ends of this world, but it’s not long until Christmas and we can have lots of family dinners and get-togethers with me included and no web cam will be needed on that occasion. I personally can’t wait.

Finally, I will finish on a very bright note. As I said before, my 18th birthday isn’t too far away now! I have had so much fun helping my mum organise what I would like to happen on the night, and of course the dress searching was the most important the best part. Finally we found one and the dress has been decided and I love it! To add an extra bit of excitement to the event I am having an “angels” and “demons” Masquerade party (very theatrical) so it will be very interesting to see how my Scottish lovelies turn up and also my lovely friends from the Bolshoi. I am of course starting the evening as an angel but no doubt will eventually turn into a little demon! I can’t wait to see all my friends that I haven’t seen for so long! So roll on December!

I will however have a new (much shorter) blog next week to hopefully tell you all about the ‘Joffrey Ballet’ workshop and the rest of my week. Until then…

It has been several weeks since my arrival back at the academy and eventually now I can update my blog! Since returning, life has not been without its little hiccups, and I can assure you I have had a few thrown at me – sickness, tiredness and injuries to name a few! Everyone here at the academy has had their fair share of troubles since returning and these sickness spells and little niggles are no more than what everyone expects after returning from a long summer holiday. However, my get-well aid was at hand from my trusted tablets which I had made sure I had requested from my doctor before I left Bonnie Scotland. A little hug now and again from my roomy Natalie also helped ensure good health would be just around the corner! I have now returned full-time to every class and I am working really hard to achieve the results which every individual teacher expects from me , and as you can see in the picture – the results are in the leotard! I am really starting to enjoy my classes more this year and I feel as though I am gaining much more understanding of each individual class in comparison to last year. The majority of this is due to the fact that I have a much clearer understanding of the language and now when instruction is given in a class situation I am able to take on board and use to my advantage what each individual teacher is asking of me and I can now apply it into my class work, which is such a gratifying feeling.

Due to my existing set backs (and goodness there have been a few!) I feel I am still very weak in comparison to some of the other girls in my class, but what can I expect? My body has been through a whirlwind of illnesses and injuries since I first stepped foot in Moscow, but the feeling of actually gaining a little strength back each day is enough to make me push myself through every obstacle that arises! I will show every teacher that for every ounce of belief they show in me I will give 150% determination and commitment back and I will show them and everyone at home just what I am capable of!

I was slightly nervous but also extremely excited when I found out that we had a new Narha (character) teacher this year called Tatiana Petrova. Luckily there was no need to be nervous, as I was overjoyed after I finished our first class – she is honestly the nicest woman I have ever met and I now have such excitement within me before entering her classes! She stirs such emotion and movement within and manages to pull every ounce of dance from me; this is why I love dancing so much! She allows me to gain an understanding of the movements and how to link them in a way that is pleasing to the eye. On top of her being an amazing teacher she also speaks fluent English… result! So when something needs an in-depth explanation she switches to the English language. Miss Petrova is still very young and at present is still an employable dancer performing around the world. I am thoroughly looking forward to working with her for the rest of the year, gaining from her expertise in dance (as I can’t wait to see what else she is going to throw at us!) and being part of the final results of her brilliant teaching.

Ballet for me this year has been a very bumpy roller coaster ride and since returning to Moscow Natalia Igorovna (known lovingly as Revich to her class) has been working her magic and I know have those much needed bottom (bum to people in Scotland) and leg muscles back in working mode. The second course syllabus is very intense and I have to be on top form right from the word “go” in order to make the vast increase of movements count in class. Revich is such an amazing teacher, I cannot praise her enough, and I am over the moon to have her as my mentor. As long as we students are willing to give her 100% commitment then she is more than willing to give the exact amount back to each and everyone of us. The more that I take part in class, the more I feel a very slight change occurring in my dancing and physique and hopefully by Christmas all these small changes will amount to something very noticeable for me to be proud of.

Not only do I have the intense dance schedule to contend with this year which includes Ballet, Character, Acting, Duet and Contemporary dance lessons, this year we also have a very hectic Academic schedule. Between classes we are now having to study not only Russian Language, but Musical Literature, theory of Music , History of Ballet, History of World Culture and standard History and History of Theatre, all of which we are assessed in and have to pass in order to obtain our Diploma. All of the above are of course (the added bonus) also taught in Russian! Also at the end of this year, our whole year group will need to pay to sit a State Russian Language exam and we need to pass this exam to receive our Diploma Certificates for our final year! Recently we have had frequent verbal exams for the above subjects, and I can tell you I have been tearing my hair out trying to study for these, but I am very pleased to say my hair-pulling has paid off and I have managed to pass them so far! And off course smarty pants herself Miss Natalie Carter has been flying through the academic exams also and passed them all too!

The opening of the old but newly refurbished ‘Bolshoi Theatre’ is finally upon us and I believe the first few performances are completely sold out! Unfortunately I don’t have tickets for any of the future shows but my ballet teacher Natalia Igorovna Revich has a close link to many of the upcoming events as she is very influential in the staging of the students’ parts in the company’s shows, so fingers crossed she can work her magic and allow our class to have a chance to see this beautiful world-renowned theatre and of course the world-famous dancers within it.

For now I think that is all the information I have to give you all and I promise to write another blog soon as these next few months have a lot of exciting things happening! Until then readers 🙂 xx