Saturday, August 31, 2013

Vivat Akademiya!

Goodbyes suck.
I mean, the absolute WORST! I am a firm believer that when one door closes, another one opens, but saying goodbye to my Vaganova teachers, my family, my routine, my city...definitely one of the HARDEST things.
This blog post has taken me a while to get around to writing for a few reasons...
My emotions were flying high the last month at Vaganova; loving every minute as strongly as possible, but I couldnt shake the sadness that came everytime I imagined leaving. Everything was moving too fast, and I was grasping at every moment and every event, but trying not to think about the 'goodbyes' to come!

At the end of June, I received my final diploma from the academy, and felt absolutely amazing; I was officially a graduate of Vaganova! There was a small ceremony in the museum where our teachers spoke, gave out our diplomas and their congratulations, and that was it! This was definitely a proud moment for me, as well as for our teachers. and I still cannot believe that I am actually graduated. Not only that, but graduated from the worlds' BEST and most prestigious ballet academy, graduated with the highest ballet grades in my class, and graduating with a dream job in place just waiting for me and proving that all of my hard-work has paid off. I could swear that the past 2 years of my life had been one long dream. As I held my diploma, reading the names and signatures of my teachers...Altynai, Udalenkova, Zaklinsky, Vasilieva... and then looked around the room, I realized just how special I was. The walls were covered top to bottom with memorabilias of all of the greats before us; portraits of Agrippina herself, pointe shoes of Ulanova, and original sketches for the costumes of Petipa's masterpieces. I felt myself to be a part of this; a part of the rich history of this academy. I was joining them (the legends before me), and I was honored. They once lived this life. Like me, they were in the halls for class everyday, in the dining room eating кошка мясо, rehearsing in Rep Zal, and laughing with friends in the internat, and so now it was time to say goodbye to the academy, as they once did, and to be sent off to represent Vaganova, our teachings, our teachers, and our incredible history.

I am beyond honored to have been given this task; to represent Vaganova, where my dancing comes from. As a Vaganova-graduate, I hope to portray a real Vaganova-dancer through my work, and to show where I take roots as a dancer; the background that is the basis of my technique and studies!
275 years worth of background, to be exact!
Saying goodbye to the academy was a dreadful thought, and luckily, the 275th anniversary of my beloved school caused reason to rejoice rather than focus on this hard task ahead. Just 2 days before leaving, the whole academy, as well as the rest of the ballet world, celebrated this past 275th year of our school by holding a gala; 275 Лет Академии Русского Балета имени А. Я. Вагановой, Юбилейного Gala- Kонсерта
The night was wonderful, and extremely emotional (touching)! The moment Altynai walked onto the stage to open the show, I felt that I ALREADY missed the academy. As the show went on, (starting with our little ones from the academy, Floresta, Gayane, and then continuing on to Shapran and Lopatkina) I felt more and more proud to be a part of it all. In between each piece, short clips were projected with people like Vasiliev, Baryshnikov, Plisetskaya, Zakharova, and so so many others wishing us, the students, teachers, and family here at ARB, the best wishes and congratulations. Old clips of our teachers and the greats that had come before us played; film strips from their classes in Rep Zal or rehearsals... all I could think about was how crazy blessed I was to be following/dancing in such GIANT footsteps! Sitting directly across from Altynai and Zaklinsky, it wasnt just what was on the stage that touched me; the love in their eyes as they watched the gala, and the whispers of the teachers, sharing memories or comments about their times in the academy...I couldn't help but smile along with them, thinking about the ones I have, and will be able to share in the future! 

I wanted to pause my life right there and just soak in the bliss of the moment I was sharing with them. If anyone had been skeptical at all before, after the concert there was absolutely NO doubt that this academy was THE best; from the babies to the legends! The city knew, too! The night was complete when we exited the theatre as a Vaganova family, and a salute of fireworks shot up into the "white" sky, making my eyes fill with tears and memories. By the time I was back in the courtyard, waving and saying goodbye to Zaklinsky and Altynai, driving away in their slick black BMW, my heart felt like it was about to break... the reason it's been such a challenge to get these words out and written.
Each goodbye was hard on me, and FOR SURE hard for my friends,... mostly because I am sure it was pretty difficult understanding my mumbled Russian under the panting and heavy tears. Now, I want to clearly and briefly express my love and appreciation to those who have made these past two years what they were; *big deep breath (P.S.- I apologize for the switching of language here! Feel FREE TO SKIP these if you feel they do not apply to you... I just need to let some of this out; both for them to remember what they meant to me, and for my own personal "moving on"!)

Starting with possibly the hardest, and most important....
To Tatiana A. Udalenkova-
The world's greatest teacher...without question. This was, and will forever be one of the most difficult goodbyes I have ever had to say! There are hardly words to describe my gratitude to you; you have influenced me in so many ways! Every minute spent in your class was a blessing and an honor! With your help and your wisdom, I have become closer to the dancer, ballerina, and artist I have always dreamed to be. Спасибо для ваши слова и помощь! За ваших доброту и совет! Спасибо за ваши уроки, репетиции, и для вас работать со мной! Вы ролевой модель для меня во многом! Я хочу сказать, еще раз, 'спасибо' благодарю вас, за всегда веру в меня, и помощь мне! You are a fabulous  mentor, teacher, and family to me! I love you, so much! I will be seeing you, soon, I hope!

Altynai Abdahimovna Asylmuratova-
I admire you SO much, and in so many ways! I am so extremely grateful for the time spent working with and learning from my beautiful director! Какая замечательная женщина; вы тот я желаю бытьподобно, надеюсь и следовать вашему примеру! A role-model whom I not only admire and strive to be like as a dancer and artist, but also as a person and character! Each rehearsal, or step, or moment you have spent on me, I have found it possible to find more and more admiration for you. Я таю и влюбился в балет, еще раз, каждый раз, мы работаем вместе, или я смотрю вы объясните, исправить или танцуете! Спасибо, что помогли мне любить балет, все больше и больше каждый раз, и для давать мне это, сразу и прям, путем быть часть в Академии! Просто обожаю! 

Anastasia Vasilieva and Konstantin E. Zaklinsky-
To two of my favorite teachers whom I cannot express my gratitude and love to, enough! Although I have already said my goodbyes, I would like to thank them, once more, for all of their incredible, irreplacable and influential knowledge which they have passed on to me. Thank you for your classes in the past years and for helping me grow as a dancer! Eсть много, слишком много, чтобы поблагодарить вас за; вы две мои любимые учители! Я так много узнала на уроках, и я любила каждую минуту, каждый класс! Спасибо, что помогли мне найти еще больше любовь к нашему искусству, чем раньше; I did not think it possible to find even more love than I already had! Спасибо, cпасибо!

Irina Ivanovna Badaeva-
Words cannot express how grateful I am to have been taken under your wing and care this year! Как мой репетитора, вы дали мне столько знаний, и как моя ментора, вы помогли давать мне моя мечта! Thank you for pushing me and for pushing FOR me! Спасибо за веру в меня и моя успеха, и помогать мне добраться! I owe so much to you, and there is no amount of words that will ever repay you. Я надеюсь, что я могу сделать несколько через мои танцы, и очень надеюсь чтобы вы гордились!

To my girls-

I do not know what to do without you beside me in class! Вы как сестры для меня,  девочки! Мы видели друг другу расти, и я многа узнала от вас! Когда я приехала к Академии, вы были моим первым друзьямиПосле этого, чувствую себя быть вместе с классом! Я хочу написать "спасибо" на каждый из вас, но есть слишком много сказать, и надо написать это попросту. Анечка, Я еще помню первый класс который я имела в Вагановой, ты была так сладка, когда я была напугана! Ты такой милую душу, дорогая! Остаться, как ты сейчас; это красивая! Оленька, я люблю твоя характера! Ты такая сильна...в сердце и тело! Мне очень нравится это, и люблю иметь друга как ты! Моя Макарова, cпасибоooo за наше время вместе; нас дружба, просто, весело для меня! Ренат, ты супер! Супер друга и супер танцора! У тебя есть светлое будущее впереди, Ренатка! Надеюсь будем встретимся, и танцуем вместе! Nast, it was fun to get to know you the last years, and in America; you are a nice friend, and so funny :)! Я так счастлива ты пришла в гости, и надеюсь ты можешь прийти к нам в будущее! Наташ, я люблю как ты "молодой" и счастливы, и я, тоже, чувствую когда с тобой! Я чувствую, чтобы это так легко говорить с тобой! Ты так полны духа и энергии; я люблю его! Ты так смешно, и мне очень нравится чтобы мы друзья! Ксения, у тебя есть персонажа сладка, и очень смешно! Жаль что мы не узнаем друг друга больше, но я очень понравилась временем, мы были вместе, и все моменты мы поделились! Саш, я люблю твоя отношения и твоя "пламя". Ты можешь быть так мила, но у тебя всегда есть свои мысли и путь; это здорово! Я буду скучать по тебе на уроке со мной каждый день, а также, просто скучаю по тебе, как друзья, Сашка! Жень, ты такая сильная и твердая танцора! Я радa что хотя мы были в классе только один год вместе, мы подружился! Girls! Bы будете ВСЕГДА большое часть меня! Я люблю вас, мои девочки! Thank you for helping me to find who I am and want to be as a dancer, and as a classmate; I have never been more honored to be a part of such an exceptional group! Я очень горжусь, и испыталa хорошие моменты, печальный моменты, трудные моменты, и все веселые времена с вами! I believe in each of you; you have more talent than you know, and I know you will each go SO so far! Thank you for being there to push me to become better, to laugh with me, to share my worries, to support each other, and to love each other! Мы всегда СУПЕРКЛАСС! <3

To our boys-

Наверно, самый главный урок вы учили меня= "только хардкор"! ;) Вы 5 каждый очень разные, and each have become a friend to me! Саша, спасибо за дуэт за каждый год! просто идеальный партнер для меня; you are such a hard-worker! Я всегда приятно работать с тобой! Я чувствовала мы можем сделать все, быстро, и очень очень хорошо вместе! You are not only incredibly helpful, but I have always felt that we were equally able to work and improve together; you are a fantastic partner, Sash, and I hope we can work together in the near future! Никита, спасибо для быть так добр ко мне! Ты такие сладкие всегда, и благодарю за весело и много улыбки! The first day I came to class, you were one of the most welcoming and kind people, and I have never had the opportunity to say 'thank you' for that! You are a good person and good friend, Nikit! Гера, я буду скучать по тебе на уроке заставить меня смеяться (и массаж)'re a character! Я надеюсь мы остаться друзьями в будущем! Кост, ты знаешь я буду скучать по тебе! Ты всегда был хорошии друг для меня!Желаю, что ты найти истинное счастье, КостяЖеня, до свидания, босс! Конечно, я буду скучать по тебе и смех ты дал мне!

Lis, Izzy, and Emilia-

You guys kill me! Lis, you were SO great; the very first night, I knew we would become good friends! To this day, you are hands-down the best roommate! I miss how silly and loud we were together; our random nights out, dressing-up and especially our daily jam-outs to each other! Cant wait til the next time we get to be together, and I get to be crazy with my baby girl! Iz, you are such a talented girl, and I am so happy I got to know you last year! I admire your hard-work and am so glad we were able to share our love for this art with each other! That love will take you far, and I am always here supporting you; thank you for supporting me, too, Izzy! Emilya, my love! Ты была такая огромная часть моего первого года! Спасибо для быть рядом со мной и за то быть сестра мне! Я так счастлива для твоя счастья в театре, и люблю тебя, дорогая!

This is far from 'goodbye' for you and me! After the last two years of always being there for each other, I know that you will always continue to be there for me and to take care of me! You are my family, now, and I dont see that ever changing! You are one the closest friends and people in my life, and so many of my memories are shared with you, Tassy-boi! We bicker like siblings, but love like them, too! I hope your next year is fantastic; I know it will be quite a change without a sister there to annoy the heck out of you! ;) Love you, Tas-man!

There is much too much to say to you, and Im not sure I CAN. You have been there for every up and down this past year, and I feel like Ive known you forever,.. and forever is just how long you will be in my life! We have so SO many awesome, fun, and incredible memories together! Thank you for being one of my best friends; for laughing with me (oh gosh, how we laugh..six pack), crying with me, supporting me, believing in me, annoying me (and putting up with my annoyances), and allowing me to be completely crazy and silly with you! You are one of a kind, derp! I will love you forever and everrr!

My sweet Leonid! You are one of the best people I know, and I can't help but smile when I am with you! You have always treated me, and all of your friends, with such loyalty, respect, love, care, and tenderness! You have a big heart, and I am so glad to know it! You are such a constant, positive presence in my life; I am so blessed! You are so talented, Leo, and I know that you will go very far with whatever you decide to do! I hope that this goodbye will not be long before we can meet, again!* I adore you and your kind heart, Leonid Leontyev!

Igor and Lera-

Моих байбис! You two are such lively, bright souls! You both have only brightened my life and my days here at Vaganova! Our memories are those of pure laughter and warmth! You are my family and my loves, and I cannot describe the happiness you both have brought me in the previous years! I know I will see you both again; it is only the destiny for you, my American kids!

It has been quite a year with you, Zaparov! Может быть ты знаешь, может быть не знаешь, насколько сильно ты для меня! Я себя чувствую чтобы я знаю кто ты и как большой сердце у тебя есть.. спасибо для  показал мне! Это сложно для меня прощаться с тобой, потому что я не уверена это значит... Да, когда-нибудь, я знаю, мы еще встретимся,... я знаю до этого, ты будешь оставаться в моей жизни! Я надеюсь ты можешь понимать что ты был для меня в этом году, а если нет, надеюсь когда-нибудь мы встретимся, и я могу cказать тебе!
Я горжусь тобой за твой успех, и надеюсь услышать об этом в театр!

Nastyona, Lawrence, and Sasha-
You guys are too funny, and dorm life was definitely entertaining having you 3 around! Nast, I already miss having you in the next room! You are such a great friend, and a pretty good "life-coach", too! I love you for always putting up with my craziness, and love you even more for all of the silly and strange moments we have had, together! I hope you watch your back, cause you know... I have eyes and surprises for you, everywhere, my girl! ;) Ill be seeing you soon! Lawrence Lambert, I am not sure which is harder; saying goodbye to you, or to your shortbread hehe. Of course I am joking; your food doesnt even come close to making me as happy as remembering all of our fun times together! Miss you, Larry! Cant wait to take you with me, everywhere, when you come visit me in the states...first stop, Taco Bell...just for you! Sasha Mayes, you make me laugh so much! So you know, I have made a mental list of some of my all-time favorite quotes from you! I am so glad you loved going to the theatre as much as I did; it was great to have someone accompany me more often, this year!


Ю ар май фаворит...за веры бест!! Но серьезно, ... ты один из своих лучших друзей!  Просто люблю тебя, Еникеев! Это всегдаaaa очень весело, когда я с тобой! Ты человек котор. я уважаю и люблю проводить время, с; я люблю что мы можем играть, говорить серьезно, шутить, или успокоит друг друга (может быть просто ты меня успокоить, но все-таки ;)) Я люблю что мы с тобой так отлично ладим, и как это не сложно; I love our relationship! Наша время вместе было слишком мало для меня, и я желаю чтобы были больше, но я уверена мы все еще быть близко и видеть друг друга, еще раз. Я надеюсь ты всегда помнишь что я держу люди которых люблю очень близко ко сердцу, всегда. Ты здесь для все жизни! А надеюсь, серьезно, ты придешь мне в гости в Словакии или США! :D Ай мисс ю! <3

Mashy and Pashy-
Mash, from our first day together visiting all of those museums and talking for hours on and on, I have felt like you know me. Maybe you're right; maybe it is because of the stars and our birthday, or maybe we are just made with the same hearts and soul. Whatever it is, I am glad we have been able to share so much with one another; you are a fantastic friend! I love you, cutie! Паши-Паш. Что я сделала бы без тебя в мой жизни в этом году, сладкий мальчик?! Ты всегда сделать мой день настолько лучше!!
Ты как семья для меня; спасибо за всегда быть там для меня! Ты настоящий друг, Паша Михеев! Ты выросли настолько, за 2 прошлые года, физически, а также как человек!  Я знаю что только будешь продолжать чтобы стать отличная, великия мужчина, Пашка! Я так горжусь для кто ты и твое персонаж, и так счастлива чтобы ты мой друг! Я люблю тебя, навсегда!
Люблю вы, оба, my sweethearts!

MyImannn! Нуyy, ты знаешь настолько я ЛЮБЛЮ тебя! Мукул,  я не могу прощаюсь, потому что, нуyy, мы должны увидеть друг друга скоро еще раз! Ты обещал мне плавать :P! Но серьезно, я надеюсь ты помнишь меня, всегда! Будет невозможно для меня забыть тебя, потому что ты такой хороший друг для меня. Спасибо за это! Также, потому что у меня есть "Иманберди" очки и рисунок для запомнить, как тебя есть мой "Снагги" :D У нас есть хорошие воспоминания вместе, Иман! Наша дружба значит много для меня!


Ооо Баирчик. Как я жила раньше без тебя?! Ты даешь мне так много улыбается и смеется, каждый день; 2 из мои любимый вещи! Ты хороший друг и всегдаaa очень нравится говорить и быть с тобой! Твои песни, сладкие объятия и поцелуи (конечно, я всегда должнa встретят с этой xax), и наша дружба всегда будет в моей памяти и в сердце!! Буду ждать мои новые песни и хорош. времена с тобой продолжить! Буду ждать в Словакии, братан!
Виталий, ты дразнишь и играешь со мной много,.. но я люблю, потому что кто еще будет? ;P Тебя есть гигант сердца, и я люблю это! Ты так весело, и так смешно! Меня никогда не имеют скучный моменты с тобой! Я никогда не забуду все необычно, хорошие моменты когда мы были вместе! Я скучаю по тебе, все время! Love you, Amelishko!


Marat Nafikov; so much fun and such a sweet friend! You crack me up, and I do not think there is anything that you cannot do...или, хотя, я не нашла что-то, еще! Ты меня смеяться так много, и просто счастлива когда с тобой! I love your carefee and down-to-earth (vagabond?! ;P) spirit! You are so refreshing and fun to be with! Thank you for being a good friend to me, bud!

Если честно, ты путаешь меня, иногда, но я очень благодарна за все прекрасные моменты. Конечно, никогда не забуду тебя! Лёш, главное я хочу поблагодарить тебя за, это за внимание! Ты было там если хотела поговорить, и это очень важно для меня; спасибо!  Ты был хорош для меня, и я очень понравились наши дни, вместе! На солнце, это где я буду помнить тебя, в нашем самые счастливые моменты вместе.))

Mario and Kost-
I am so happy you two made your way to Petersburg this last year! Было так весело быть в городе с вами, ребята, и так близко! It was so much fun getting to hang out with you boys when we found the free time! Вы оба замечательны люди и друзья! Я счастлива за ваши успехи! Best wishes, and miss you, Mario and Kilinchik!

Мне грустно подумать как мало времени мы были вместе! Желаю мы были друзьями раньше, но я рада, ты мой друг, сейчас! Тебя есть сладкие сердце и слова, и просто муж добрый, я знаю!  Спасибо заставить меня чувствовать себя такая специальная, всегда!)) Я не могу ждать, пока хороший день когда встретимся, снова, Витя! Скучаю по тебе, уже!

To my friends Katya, Ramanbek, Alisher, Keenan, Nastya Z., Aydar, Mariko, Lea, Yulia, Nail, Ksenia Zh., Max,...-
It has been great getting to know you and hang out with each of you! Я xотела знать вам, больше, потому что время когда мы были вместе, я это очень понравилось! Каждый из вас так здорово, и я надеюсь встретимся на будущее! Удачи, вам!

Bас всех было важно в моей жизни...
 As I was taking every special moment, and storing it for keeps, I was planning on writing my "goodbye" blog post as I actually was having to say goodbyes. Unfortunately, that did not work out as planned, and now I am realizing it is even more difficult to have to write this; there is so much I want to say. There is so much that I need these people to know. There is so much that cannot be forgotten; the way I felt when around my magnificent friends and teachers, or the way we used to tease each other, and most importantly; the tremendous way each has impacted my life! Fortunately, these are not things I will soon forget! Each moment spent at the academy and with my Vaganova academy has become a piece of who I am. I carry a bit of each of these people with me wherever I go, and hope that I only will make them more proud of me!
Blessed and in love,

Monday, July 8, 2013

The Countdown; The Best Days of My Life

Since exam season began back in April, it started to seem like each day was part of countdown to SOMEthing ending; 10 days until "this" and then another 7 days until the next thing! Our classical exam was fast approaching, but we had already been counting down to it since the first day we walked into the studio at the beginning of the school year!
As I explained, previously, the classical exam this year is one of the most important examinations! Because we were to receive our diplomas in June, we were all working to try and achieve the very highest mark on this exam. Each day we were running-through our (almost) 2 hour long examination; barre, center, jumps, pointe... there was no time to breath! We were whipped into shape; our technique polished, our musicality corrected until perfectly together, and our stamina built until we could finally make it through 2 hours of non-stop ballet (absolutely no resting!!!) After much MUCH hard-work with Udalenkova, a lot of prayers, and a few trips to physio-therapy, our graduation exam was complete and done with! It's hard to describe what that shared, blissful moment felt like when we took our final bows in front of the panel, but let me tell you; it felt pretty good! For some amazing reason, when we looked around at those people and at each other, a wave of pure bliss showered over my girls and me! In that moment, we were all one; we had completed one of the hardest tests of our artistic and academic careers, together. We had done it well, and had done it with sensitivity and support for one another; a true class! I've never been more proud to be a part of this group of girls! It was a day of celebration for each of us, for each other and all of our hard work, and so, of course, after receiving the оценки (our scores), we withheld our tradition by taking a trip to MakDak (McDonalds), and inhaling all of the food we wanted! A pretty good way to celebrate, if you ask me!

After our classical exam, we had only a few days until the next one; duet! As I have said before, duet is one of my FAVORITE classes, especially with Zaklinsky; our giant, funny, sweet teddy-bear! I was always looking forward to duet class, and during this exam season, I was enjoying having duet class and run-through every day! Not only was I able to work with a teacher that I adored as an instructor and as a person, but also with his lovely wife, Altynai Asylmuratova (our director)! It was absolutely an incredible opportunity to be able to have her in duet class helping/watching us throughout the whole year, and even more so during exams preparation! Both her and Zaklinsky have enormous amounts of talent, and combined, I had what is probably the BEST, most legendary duet classes!
So after working with them multiple times on our exam, there was nothing but excitement left by exam day, and I enjoyed every moment out there in front of the panel, and would do it again in a second!

One after another, the examinations and rehearsals for the Hermitage performances continued! Each day was longer and longer, and not just because White Nights were slowly approaching! Classical, Duet, Character... each had an unbelievable amount of time and preparation put into them, and the hard work never seemed to let up! Alongside this, we were having run-throughs and rehearsals for La Bayadere every single night with our repititeurs, our teachers, and pedagogs that were interested or asked to help perfect it; completely exhausting! So after our character exam was complete at the end of April, it was time to really focus and crank-out a "perfect" and solid Баядерка. My mind, body, and heart were set on making it as spectacular and moving, technically and artistically, as possible! I wanted to be the best I could be, and so did all of the teachers I was working with in the academy; there are so many who believed in me, and to whom I owe big 'thank you's!

The seven days that we had from my character exam until the Prosmotr passed so fast! Each one, I came home ready to collapse from exhaustion, but trying to hold on for another few days! After making it through the first cut of the Prosmotrs, it was all about surviving each day at a time. With each following day leading up to the performance, more changes and cuts were made. Luckily, we made it through each one, and not only by a little; I was ecstatic to see and hear that the teachers and other students found Bayadere to be one of the favorites of the performances!
With all of this craziness going on, I was so blessed to have my momma and Aunt Suzy come out; I honestly do not know how I would have done it without them! They were able to arrive in St. Petes just 2 days before the performance on День Победы (Victory day), May 9th, and after helping the Russian Babushka of the dorms take the little kids to the big parades on Nevsky Prospekt, I was able to meet up with them, and enjoy a relaxing dinner on the street! The next day would be the final Prosmotr for the performance, and my nerves were immediately put to rest seeing my family!
The final run-through went great, and I was completely prepared for the next day! The morning of the performance at Hermitage was hectic. We started off with a warm-up class in the academy, 2 of us ran onto the street to grab coffee and bouquets for the repititeurs and Altynai, and then we headed to the theatre early. We had one last run-through on stage with less than 10 teachers and Altynai on the intercom. My nerves after the run-through were at an all time high! This was it; I was going to dance the lead, and not only that, in a Vaganova performance... somebody pinch me! I had been dreaming of this for so long, but now it was my reality!
After the run-through, Altynai worked with me on the stage, and ran through all of the little details! Badaeva joined us, and after working alone with them for awhile, I felt so much more relaxed and confident in myself and my dancing! I was 110% ready for this, and they felt it, too! Of course, I had a few touch-ups to make, first. I felt so "prima" because after Altynai told me how to do my hair special for Bayadere, Badaeva came down to help make me perfect for the show. We must have redone my hair 3 times before she gave up and told me to show it to Asylmuratova, who still didnt think it was quite enough. Lucky me (no sarcasm), Altynai Abdahimovna redid my hair and crown, made sure my costume and make-up was up to par, and then wished me one final good luck; NOW I was completely ready to kill it,... but after the performance, it was ME who was dead!
Everything went wonderful! I had Altynai on one side in the wings, Udalenkova out front, and Desnitsky on the other, all making comments, corrections, and cheering me on "davai! molodets!"! It was one of the most enjoyable performances of my life! I felt like a different dancer, and in a good way! The growth and progress I had made this year were apparent (even to myself) on stage! I had the technique and rehearsals in my muscles, the corrections in my mind, and an unreal passion, love and enjoyment in my heart and body! As always, each movement was done with love and feeling, and by the end, I had no feeling in my body! La Bayadere is hands-down, the most difficult thing I have ever had to dance, and all of the teachers, and anyone who has danced the ballet, knows it; Badaeva's said numerous times that this variation is harder than any other female solo, and then combined with everything else before and after... NO. AIR!
Even though I was seeing stars and panting heavily for breathe, I felt amazing when that curtain closed! It was all quite surreal; a blur of faces of friends and teachers kissing me and hugging me; congratulating me with their praises and their sweet words! I was overjoyed, and still am whenever I think about it! It was an incredible day that I was blessed to have been able to share with those that I love and who love me; especially my family who came all the way out from the States! The support that I received was absolutely touching, and so was the proudness I saw from my teacher! I have got to be one of the luckiest people in the world, and definitely one of the happiest after that performance!

After the performance, I was able to spend some quality time with my family! We went out to celebrate my successes and to celebrate being together! The next day was an off day for me, so I was able to spend the full day with them! We had a short, Russian breakfast, and then made our way to Mariinsky to see "Барышня и Хулиган" ("The Young Lady and the Hooligan")! After the ballet, we headed up St. Isaac's Cathedral! It was one of the best, most beautiful things Ive seen! From the top, you are able to walk all the way around, and can literally see every part of the city! It was so nice to watch the sun set (part way because of White Nights) over the buildings and my lovely city! Definitely something I will never forget, and hope to see again, soon!

The next days went too fast for me. Every moment I wasnt in class, I was with my mom and Aunt Suz, walking, exploring, and enjoying SPB! I am so happy that they were able to see so much, because in a city as beautiful and rich as Petersburg, it is hard to fit everything into just one visit (or even one year)!

After their return to the US, I found that I had more free time than I have ever had here in SPB; I had finished my semester for my university, I had no more Bayadere rehearsals, I completed all of my exams, and all there was left to do was enjoy the rest of the year (and figure out what I would do next year)! Even more, the days were getting longer and longer with the arrival of summer and White Nights. I spent almost every day out in the courtyard with friends or just enjoying the weather! This last month has been all about trying to pack in everything we have been wanting and planning to do! We've spent our afternoons doing water fights, museums, visiting tourist sights like Pushkin's Palace, visiting the theatre, trying new restaurants, simply walking to my favorite spots in the city, and tons more, of course, all filled with tons of laughter and fun!

One of the most special days for me was, of course, my birthday! I was showered with warm wishes for the  future; endless kisses, hugs, and "поздравляю's"! The weather was absolutely beautiful; warm and sunny, and we were able to eat dinner at my favorite restaurant (which my Momma showed me) on the patio outside, talking, laughing, playing games, and enjoying each others company! I was also presented with my very own song, written and performed on the spot by my friend, Bair! I listened to my own private concert of songs until late into the evening, and came home happy having spent my first day as a 19 year old with people I love, and whom love me right back! :)

My dad always spoils me on my birthday!! Usually, it's not even only a birth-DAY, but "happy birth month" & "birth week" (which I will always love! He really is the best!) That being said, he likes to remind me everyday that there's reason to celebrate, and the weeks after my birthday were definitely giving me reasons to celebrate!

A few days after my special day, Mikhailovsky was going to have the premiere for Nacho Duato's new piece "Invisible"! The general rehearsal was a closed rehearsal on stage, and the first viewing of the piece in the world! Nacho, being a good friend and partner of our academy, invited Altynai, our teachers, and about 25 or 30 students, me being one of them, to come to this premiere, which would also include "Na Floresta"(the piece we'd been performing this year in the academy)! It was all very exciting, and so cool to be a part of something like that, especially because I really enjoy Duato's choreographies! I love getting to be a part of such important and awesome things like this; it's one of the millions of things I love about being a real Vaganova girl!
The next few days were pretty usual, and after ballet classika we were free to roam the city and do what we wanted. We were all tiring outselves out; working hard and pushing ourselves in class, and then staying up late on the street and hanging, playing futbol in the yard, only to repeat the same thing the next day. Although we were dragging, let me tell you how completely worth it it was. We were taking in every moment together as a Vaganova family, and making memories. We were bonding and growing closer and closer, even after being together every day for 2 years! I was surrounded by joy, and it was hard to imagine it getting any better than it already was, until I received what could be possibly the very best news of my life.

Just as my birth-month was ending, I received the absolute best gift, ever; a dream job! Since I began ballet, I have dreamt about dancing in a company in Europe, and ALL of my extreme, hard-work that stems from my strong passion... it has finally paid off!!! Sooo... expect blog posts coming from SLOVAK NATIONAL BALLET, Bratislava (Slovakia), soon! :)) It was quite a journey getting here, but the day that I was offered this job was by far one of the GREATEST I've ever had!
Back in April, we had the director and a ballet master from Slovak National Theatre visit. They were brought to my class to view, and without knowing where they were from, I was promoted for a position there by Udalenkova. After the class, the ballet master wanted to speak to me about my dancing and a possible position. He really enjoyed me as a dancer, and wished, personally, to give me a contract right then, however, there were a few steps that needed to be taken before that. After he spoke to both myself and my lovely teacher, I was told that they would be coming to watch La Bayadere rehearsal with Badaeva, who happened to be an old friend and colleague to the director, Mr. Dolinsky. I was excited and looking forward to having them there; being able to show them WHY I deserved a contract with the company! I wont bore you with the details, but for many reasons, they were not able to come to the rehearsal. I was deeply disappointed, but in the morning of the next day, Mr. Dolinsky showed up at the door to personally apologize and exchange contact information. There are not many directors, let alone people, that would do that, and I only hoped that meant that they wanted to hire me even more than they expressed!
For the next month, Udalenkova, Badaeva, and myself were all hopeful that I would hear back from him with positive news. Almost everyday I was talking with Udalenkova and Irina Ivanovna about what I would need to do, and it looked as if I would have to fly out to Slovakia for a live prosmotr (watch). Alongside what I was doing, they were also making phone calls to the company every other day, and checking to make sure he received my information. They were trying to get videos of my performances copied and sent out to him. They were checking up on me and making sure that I was planning the trip out there. There was so much they were doing behind the scenes that I did not even know about, but am forever grateful for! It was a busy and stressful time, but I was just thankful to be being given help and assistance!
The morning of May 28, just as the month was coming to a close, I woke up with a To-Do list. At the top of this was to buy a ticket to Bratislava, and start making the itinerary for the prosmotr in Slovakia. Life is all about timing, and the news I received that morning could not have come at a better time; it was an offer for a position in Slovak National Theatre! I was completely  overwhelmed with happiness and joy! I was shocked, and immediately drawn to tears! We work every day to become better and better as dancers. We perfect our technique and we learn more about who we are as artists. We kill our muscles and our joints and, sometimes, our minds, trying to become the best we can possibly be; seeking perfection, but never accomplishing it. I do it because I love it, and I want to dance the rest of my life; to be a ballerina. When I received this news, it was one of the biggest, most incredible moments of my ballet career, and of my life! I had done it.

For the next week, I was living in a dream world! I was non-stop smiling (not so unusual, anyway), and my whole life seemed rather surreal...almost perfect! I was in the world's best ballet academy with the world's best teachers. I had gotten a dream job, and been blessed with a wonderful family, both by blood and heart. Until now, I have kept it rather quiet, and besides my teachers and family, I told only a few of my closest friends; those who have known for a long time just HOW MUCH I have wanted it, and how much I have worked to make my passion my career! It was hard for me to decide, at first, who would be the first person I would tell the exciting news! Badaeva had been the first to tell me about this incredible news, and I was so happy to have shared this moment with the woman who helped make it possible! It was a pretty special feeling for me, and for her, as well! It was hard to contain smiles and hugs. After that, I decided that the person I wanted to tell first would be Udalenkova; another major player in the whole thing! Just as I had thought and hoped, it was a wonderful moment for both of us! She was even more sweet, happy, proud and kind than usual...she was THRILLED for me! Telling Udalenkova was one of the proudest moments of my life; I owe so much to this woman! She is my family, my teacher, my mentor, and the person I credit more than anyone in making me the dancer that I am! I am so blessed to have both of these women as my mentors and pedagogs; they are the best with absolutely NO competition.

Knowing 100% where I would be after graduation only made my last weeks that much more enjoyable! The countdown to summer holiday was going WAY too fast,  but I was determined to drag it out as long as possible. With the Выпускной Концерт approaching, we were at Mariinsky for many days each week. The morning classes there were my favorite, and for the first time, they were with other teachers rather than my own, which was definitely interesting! The rehearsals for Gayane were some of the best parts of my days. With each one, I have become more and more fond of the ballet, but perhaps I am just being biased because I love watching my friends perform these roles; the ballet is so strong and manly, and never get boring! There is so much power! With each graduates futures unfolding as mine was, it was the most joyful, bright time of the year that we were experiencing together! The courtyard was filled with music and laughter until early morning hours, and we were living in the present; together and in pure, carefree happiness!

As the countdown continues, I find my classes growing shorter, my emotions heightening, my friends drawing closer, and the nights getting hotter. Each second has become more and more precious, and it is hard for me to imagine leaving this place; leaving my home and my loved ones. With each graduation gala; each time I watch Венецианского Kарнавала, Freski, or the Sable dance from "Гаяне" one more time, it becomes one of the LAST times Ill see it. I try to keep from doing that; from making everything the "last", but it's been a real challenge! I keep questioning whether Ill ever see "this" again, or if I will ever be able to feel like I do right now. On this emotional rollercoaster I am riding, I have come to finally accept that things will never be the same after graduation. With each day ticking by, things are changing. We are growing closer to each other and to taking the next steps into our futures, but soon, we'll get farther from this life; from the academy life, and from the children we are now. We cant help it; all we can do is change with it, but hold on to what we have now. Hold on to what we have learned here, our memories, and to the relationships we have created! So instead of a countdown, it will become the end of a chapter; adding to the big plot of our individual stories that have all, somehow, in a wonderful blessing, become intertwined, and changed the others'. Here's to our futures!
With much left unwritten,