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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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I am so excited to tell you all that this month’s blog is coming to you from the comfort of my couch in good old Scotty Land (Scotland)! This can only mean two things , number one – I have now finished my second year at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and number two – Summer 2012 has begun! What a quick year this has been, but it has not been without its occasional crazy roller coaster ride! I can tell you there were times that I felt ready to jump off, but my family and friends were always around to give me the much-needed support and guidance that I frequently needed to help me along the way.

As I had told you all in my last blog, I am unfortunately injured… I am trying as we speak to get back to full fitness before returning in August to the Academy. I also mentioned that I had up and coming exams looming. Before sitting my exams I was given an doctors note from the Academy and I also received one from my doctor in Scotland explaining the limit of dance (if any) that I could be involved in due to my foot injury. This note gave me special dispensation not to take part in certain elements of dance within my exams, but although these letters excused part of the exams I still had to part-dance in order for the commission (examiners) to see if I was capable of continuing in the school for my final year. The letters helped them to understand the extent of the injury and that I was unable to jump in the ballet exam or take part in Pointe work and to do so would aggravate my injury further. This unfortunately also meant that I was unable to take part in my pas de deux exam (where the injury occurred) as the full exam is performed on Pointe. I have been absent from participating in part of the dance activities for almost 3 months and to try and complete these very taxing movements was simply not an option as it could have been detrimental to my future within the academy and my future career in dance.

The academy were very understanding and supportive throughout this very upsetting time. They fully understood the situation and worked closely with my pas de deux teacher, who in turn gave me a mark for my work assessed throughout the year. I am pleased to report that I was given a pass! The relief that I felt was unbelievable… to be able to pass this exam on past work and enable me to get into my final year was such a great feeling! I am over the moon with this achievement as it means my injury has not been detrimental in my chances of gaining my 3 year diploma from the BolshoiAcademy next year.

My first exam was character dance on the 11 May and took place from 12:50 until 1:50pm. We performed about 16 dances one after the other and were provided with a few moments between each to catch our breath and change sides of the studio, if necessary, for the next piece. I absolutely loved this exam because I was able to take part in most of it and I gave 100% dedication. After the exam we had to wait about 15 minutes for the judges to decide on our final marks and I have to say it was quite a nerve racking wait! There was one part of this dance exam that I couldn’t do due to having to jump a lot and my foot injury wouldn’t take the stress that I would have to put on it. I had my doctor’s note as a reprieve, which fortunately wasn’t needed for this exam, but it was in place should anything have happened or if I had to sit down or my foot failed mid exam. I am so pleased to tell you all that this exam went really well and I was awarded a 5- this being one of the top marks to be awarded!

The next day in class our character teacher (Tatiana Petrova) reported to the class that she had an announcement to make. The teachers and examiners that had watched and marked our exam had reported that our exam was one of the best they has seen this year and that we were better than the Russians. This is such an outstanding achievement for an international class as it really shows how much work and dedication we have put into our work this year and we hope that next year we can prove even further that we are hard working students! The commission were so impressed with the level of work we produced that they told our teacher next year they expected us to be dancing with boys for our graduating exam and they are pushing for permission to have our exam performed on the stage! This is a first for an international class as normally only the Russian pupils are allowed to dance with the boys for character dance. Also, the internationals are not usually allowed on the stage to perform their exam – so a first for both elements. This shows how amazing our teacher Tatiana Petrova is. Her work, loyalty and dedication to us all is very much appreciated. We can do nothing but praise our teacher and are thoroughly looking forward to working with her again next year!

The second exam was contemporary and the date for this exam was changed quite a few times. We were quite relaxed thinking we had time to spare, but we soon had an abrupt wake-up call as this was not the case. On the 15 May one of the girls from the dorm entered our room and said “guys, our exam is tomorrow” ha ha. I have to say that was quite a shock, but we were ready and had a few extra classes the week prior to set timings and entrances and exits. This exam contained 6 exercises and then 3 dances. Unfortunately I was only able to perform the exercises in the exam due to my foot but I really enjoyed myself as this contemporary piece really gave me a chance to use different muscles and let loose!

Once again we waited anxiously for our results and during that 15 minutes my nerves really took over and tears were rolling down my face. It was mainly because I felt that due to my injury my contemporary dance (I feel) was stronger than my classical dance and I was determined to show the judges that I had worked really hard this year. As a dancer I am capable of bringing other types of dance to the table and I wanted to show them that I had the capability of having other elements and talents, but sadly I felt in this exam I didn’t show all that I could. My foot was really sore half-way through the exam and I wasn’t able to finish full exercises. This absolutely frustrated me, as I am a perfectionist – something that all dancers out there will understand because as a dancer you want to always show your best and perform to the best of your ability. However, all of these tears were soon forgotten when I returned to learn my results and found out I was awarded a 5! My smile spread from ear to ear and I rushed upstairs to call mum and tell her the good news. I couldn’t believe that I was injured yet achieved such high marks within my exams!

On my way out of the Academy later that day, Natalie (my roomy) and I stopped to speak to our contemporary teacher and she said that the commission were impressed with how our class worked together but in particular were very impressed with both Natalie and I, and really enjoyed watching what we brought to the class and seeing own individuality shining through! She said this is such a good compliment because one of the women within the commission spoke with very high regard for us both and she is very well-respected within the school. It is great to know that my dancing impressed this very important lady and made her smile and enjoy something that I love to do on a daily basis.

My final exam was, of course, Classical dance which was the most nerve-racking of them all! The exam took place on May 29 at 10 until 11am and we had a full studio of onlookers ranging from fellow students to student teachers as well as the examiners themselves. I was only allowed to do barre exercises in this exam as my ballet teacher, Revich, insisted that I do only one part. Revich didn’t want to take the chance of further injury as most exercises included centre work, pointe and jumps. Not being able to complete this full exam really worried and upset me because I have worked really hard this year – especially since the injury was not my fault. To be prevented from showing not only the examiners but Natalie Igorovna Revich the improvement I have made this year was so disappointing.

In the UK a ballet barre exercise normally takes about 30 to 45 minutes but the same amount of barre exercise work in this Russian exam was finished in 9 and a half minutes! So you can all imagine how much we were gasping for breath! I really felt sorry for the rest of my class because after barre I was able to sit down, ice my foot and get my body temperature back down to a normal state, but they then had to go on to do centre, jumps then pointe work! In case you hadn’t realised, this is not an easy exam, it’s very demanding and exhausting! All of the girls in my class did so well and all received really good marks (well done girls!). I was also awarded a pass award which I was relieved and really happy with, as I was only able to take part in barre exercise and for them to pass me after only competing in one part was a real relief and also a great acknowledgement that they had the belief that I was capable of more.

Receiving pass marks in all my exams this year also means that I am able to come back to Russia in August, and with continued rest and physio also injury free (PLEASE body!). Then for my last year I will really get to show them what I can do, and it also gives me something to thrive and work towards as this is how I like to do things in life. If every day you push more and more you will exceed what you thought was your limit. You can never say you have done enough as there is always a little bit more fight inside you and a little bit more waiting to shine.

On top of all this excitement ( I don’t know if I can take any more excitement!) I am ecstatic to tell you that I finished my second year academics with 5’s in every exam – an achievement I thought sometimes was not possible! I remember at the beginning of this year crying on the phone to my mum looking at the essays of Russian History, Music Literature, World Culture and Ballet History, Theory of Music, History of Theatre and Russian Language, and everything else that I had to memorise and read aloud without the text in front of me. I was thinking it was an impossible task to expect a 17 year old Scottish girl who has been learning Russian for one year to complete!

Even if I say so myself, I now think I deserve one large pat on the back as I am so proud to say that I managed all of these studies and exams. I may have struggled at times but I succeeded! Goodness knows how many situations, exams, studies and trials of mind and body and emotional moments this year has given me, and I know that the few more to tax my mind and body in third course will be no different but I now realised that you should never doubt yourself because anything is possible if you put your mind to it. I have met many new friends this year and the bond we all share is lovely and I look forward to spending my graduating year with them all.

On the 30 of May I boarded the plane in Moscow at 5:50am with my two very large suitcases filled with rubbish which my mother took pride in throwing in the bin as soon as I arrived home. I arrived in London at 7 am and then onto my home soil at 11am where my Mum, Dad, Auntie and little cousin stood waiting my arrival. It is an amazing feeling being with my family and knowing that I have a very long summer to catch up with family and friends, and I don’t have to rush back to Russia too quickly. This summer is a well needed break (although I do know I have fitness and studies to keep on top of)… I am so excited for all of the things that I have planned. I have to say that although I have only been home for 5 days I have made good use of my newly acquired ID and the Russian vodka I brought home for the family. What can I say? Being 18 is fun!

In addition to all of this excitement, I was very flattered whilst visiting the local post office in my home town to be recognised by a lovely lady that has taken a keen interest in my studies at the Bolshoi and also follows my blog – her second name is also Stobo too! Small world eh? She told me that when I was first accepted into Bolshoi she frequently received phone calls from newspapers asking to interview me, and had to explain countless times that she was not related to me in any way! It was such a surreal feeling for someone to know my face and to know so much about me without actually knowing me in person. This gave me such a great feeling and make me feel quite humble that people take a keen interest in my life. It has also urged me to say a huge THANK YOU to everyone that keeps up with my progress in Russia. I really hope that what I am doing makes you all very proud as it does my family and friends, and as I embark on my final year, may it go smoothly and let me graduate with a bang!

Once again, thank you to everyone who has supported my journey this past year, especially the Genesis Foundation without whom I would not have had the chance of this amazing journey and a special thank you to Mr Studzinski who has given his time, kindness and commitment to talents like mine. You all you mean the world to me.

I hope you all have an amazing summer and I will be sure to post a wee blog now and again to keep you all informed of my Scottish antics! Until then bloggers 🙂

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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!

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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!

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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.

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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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