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Posts Tagged ‘Bolshoi Theatre’

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 🙂

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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…

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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

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