Friday, September 23, 2011

Life is a Circus (week 5)

As week five began, I started to feel like my time in Russia was coming close to it's end. It was hard to think that we had already been there for a full month! Time went by so quickly, so we spent the week trying to do everything we had been planning on doing before we left.

Monday I was SO excited because my friend Anton was going to teach our repertoire class! We first had class with 2 different teachers, and then Anton came and taught! I had so much fun! We got to dance Esmeralda, La Fille, Black Swan, and Bluebird variations! The rest of the week was a blast too, because we had that same schedule for our ballet classes, plus character classes on Tuesday and Thursday!

Monday and Tuesday, my friends and I devoted the afternoons to picture taking in Red Square and in front of the Bolshoi. We had so much fun, and got some pretty cool pictures! Here are a few of my favorites;

Margo in front of the theatre

Kyra, me, and Margo

Me at the Bolshoi

On Wednesday after our ballet class and russian language class, we went to a small church that was also a museum to take a master class on Russian doll making. We had a little "tea-time" and of course our daily cheese bread, and then we got to see some homemade Russian dolls. They were so cute, but we were all a little restless and and tired, so we did not get to actually take a class on how to make them. That night, we had bed check at 11:00 as usual. My roommate Margo and I walked into our room, and JUST OUR LUCK, hundreds and HUNDREDS of bugs were EVERYWHERE! We were not about to sleep in our beds with bugs crawling in them, so we set out to kill them! It must have been a pretty funny site, because numerous amounts of people would walk by our door and stop to watch as we threw books on the ceilings and smashed them against our walls while the other ones flew around. NOT FUN! But definitely a night to remember! Luckily we found a solution, and we got 3 plug in bug killers, so we stayed up and watched my FAVORITE movie of all time, the Notebook, until all of them had dropped dead.
Just a FEW of the dead bugs on the window still left in the morning.

  The next day, we went to a farewell dinner with the US Embassy. They talked a lot about how we are now US Ambassadors in Russia, and how when we arrive back in the US, we will have so much to share, and be completely different people. It was a really nice dinner and night!

That weekend was our last weekend in Russia, and Remy and I were going to a new family together again! We were really excited because we were going to be staying with an American family who lived at the US Embassy! It was a really cool experience to see how all of the American families were living as well as learning about their own experiences and thoughts on Moscow and living in Russia! We also FINALLY got to have some good old American food, which was really comforting! The highlight of the weekend, though, was going to the Russian Circus! It was so cool to see, and my favorite was definitely the tightrope walkers! It was so cool, because they walked on the tightrope without any cords and balancing people on their shoulders at the same time! It was so crazy! We also went shopping at Izmailovsky market, and we got some Russian hats too! :P Remy and I had a great weekend, and were ready to start our very last week in Moscow!


With our last host family
Five weeks down, one to go. Let's make it the BEST guys!
Tatum <3

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I'm Glad you Came (week 4)

Week four;
                  I came back from my host family, and was SO excited to walk into the lobby and see one of my partner and friend, Kostya, from Bolshoi New York! Later, I also got to see my friends Reika and Jin, also from NYC! It had only been three weeks, but I had missed them!  I wish they all could have stayed longer, but I had so much fun while they were here at the academy, and I am happy that they get to go spend some time at home before the school year begins!

                 The teacher that we had for week four was named Nastia, and I loved taking her class! She was quite young, and she made class really interesting and fun, but she also gave a lot of attention and corrections to each of us individually, which I really liked! We also get to take class with the Russian year-round students of the academy, which is GREAT because they always push me in class! And, they are all SUPER flexible,...honestly like nothing I have ever seen! If you can imagine someone almost breaking their hips so that their splits are literally at a 90 degree angle, THAT is exactly what I see everyday! This week, there were a lot more in class than usual, so it was really interesting and exciting to get to watch them dance and take class with them! Also, my friend Artemiy (Belyakov), who is now a professional in the Bolshoi Ballet (!!!!), took our classes too! All in all, it was a really great week for ballet!
 We are pretty sure she is "Kari the Babysitter" from The Incredibles! ;P

Here's a picture of all 15 of us US ballet girls going to see a Russian Character dance show!

          That weekend, I switched host families again, and this time went with a young woman names Liza, and her boyfriend, Толя to their country home/ "Dacha". It was about a 4 and a half hour drive to the home outside the city! In fact, it was actually closer to St. Petersburg than to Moscow! Only 1 and a half or 2 hours away!  On the way there, we got to see a lot of the countryside of Russia, which was interesting! I was with my friend Remy this weekend, so we kept each other entertained. They also had a pet dog named Ричард/ "Richard", and a cat.
        I grew up in a family of dog lovers! Ever since the day I was born, there was never a time when we did not have a dog! Needless to say, I was much more excited to have the dog with us than the cat. Cats are just not as cuddly, friendly, and DEFINITELY not as cute! Disagree with me if you wish, but if any of you had spent the weekend with THIS cat, I am sure  you would change your mind! Let's just say that my luggage, clothes, and purse still reek of cat urine after excessive amounts of washing! Thank you Remy Lamping, for helping me deal with the cat

      Despite that though, the weekend was great! Liza, Tolya, and all of their friends were very welcoming and fun! We had so much fun just relaxing and hanging out in the Russian country! It was really nice to get out of the city for awhile, and see the town that Liza grew up in! It was also really cool because we got to meet everyone that she grew up around, and her family actually lived in 4 out of the 20 homes there! Remy and I were really proud, because when we went for a walk down the road, we got to use the Russian we have been learning to speak and hold actual conversations with some of the people we ran into! YAY!
       Here are some pictures we took around Liza's dacha:

Watching Paranormal Activity :/ AHHH!

Thank you Liza and Tolya!))

Monday, September 12, 2011

Halfway Through my Journey- Week 3 Moscow

The third week here in Moscow started off great, with an exciting day on Monday! I finally got to see my friend Artem, who I have been in touch with since the very first Bolshoi summer in 2008!
            That Wednesday was also very exciting! It was probably one of the most exciting days I have had here, because MSNBC New York came to the academy to film us in our ballet repertoire class and Russian language class! Before they came, we had a really hard ballet class taught by one of my favorite teachers here, Mme. Ovdienko! Then, the film crew came and filmed one of the most tiring rep. classes I have ever taken! We started with Giselle Act 1 variation from the Peasant Pas. Some of us did the solos by ourselves, and some of the other girls did them in small groups of 3 or 4! Our teacher choose me to start, and as soon as I began, the director of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Madame Marina Leonova, walked in to watch! It was extremely nerve-racking, but it was also very exciting! I had so much fun getting to perform for her, as well as the cameras! ;) We ended up doing 3 solos; Giselle, La Bayadere Shades (3rd), and Don Quixote Act 3 solo..... multiple times for each.... in a row! Needless to say, we were all pretty exhausted by the end of the day!
           That weekend, my original host family could not take me again because the mother had an unexpected business trip, so I went with a new one! It was really different because they lived ooutside of the city, but they were so kind and their home was very welcoming and cute! And it was so much fun because there were always a ton of people with us! The family had many neighbors and relatives around them in the small town, and so there were always people visiting; walking in and out whenever they pleased! And they also had a ton of kids which I loved!))
       Here is a link to the video on MSNBC


Here are some pictures of my friends Kyra, Margo, and I in the studios at Bolshoi! :) I will be adding more later to my photo gallery on this site!

haha we are super silly! <3 So glad I made such great friends here! Halfway done with Russia... AHHHHH!

(Originally posted August 9, 2011)

Moscow Nights filled with Bolshoi Dreams

After our first weekend in Russia (and seeing TONS!), I was really excited to start our second week of classes! I finally felt settled in, and was having so much fun being here! I also was starting to get kind of used to the raked floor (the floors in the ballet studios here are at a slant, so it takes alot of control and balance to dance on them!)! We had a new teacher on Monday, and I really loved her class! She corrected alot, and worked us really hard! Not only that, but she is BEAUTIFUL to watch! Even when she just marks the combinations! That day, we had Ballet Gymnastics which is just a REALLY intense stretching class! We also take character and repertoire every week!      That week, we got to do alot of fun things!

          On Monday, we were taken to see the Bolshoi perform! AHHH! sooo exciting! They performed 3 different ballets! It was SO beautiful! I am about as classical as they get! I love the classical ballets like Giselle and Sleeping Beauty, but even so, I absolutely LOVED seeing them perform these ballets; especially Chroma!

       The Bolshoi's dancing is everything and MORE that people say it is! I cannot believe the technicality and artistry of the dancers and company as a whole! As if seeing the BOLSHOI perform in MOSCOW was not exciting enough, I got to see my friend Artem perform that night in the final piece! He was as wonderful as I remember! It was definitely a night to remember!

       On Thursday, we had 2 exciting and unexpected things happen! First, the Russian Culture channel came and filmed our classes that day! It was pretty exciting, even though it was kind of intimidating having a camera RIGHT in your face all the time! They interviewed 2 of our teachers, and three students after class! I was one of the girls that they interviewed, and I was really nervous! I am not exactly the best at speaking; one of the reasons I love ballet is that I can express emotions and tell stories with my body, not words! But it was pretty cool getting to see all of us on TV that night! We also went out to dinner that night, as we usually do on Thursdays, but this time was different because we got to go on a dinner cruise on the Moscow River! It was so exciting! We had to take a long, and HOT bus ride to the port, but when we got on the boat, we all had a BLAST! It was SO much fun! We got to see Moscow from a different view, and had so much fun dancing and playing in the rain!

       Before we knew it, it was time to go back to the host family! Friday night, my host family took me to see the Victory park in Moscow, and we had a nice, home cooked Russian meal at their cute apartment in Central Moscow! The next day, we went to a Soviet Statue Garden, and then to the Modern Art Museum! It was really cool, and we got to see some really cool artwork! I guess all of those hours and days in Art History class were worth my time, because I finally feel like I can explain my taste in artwork and know what I like!
        After that, I was SO excited because my friends Kyra and Haley texted me (on our Russian phones! ;)) from their host family and asked me to go with them to see Stanislavskiy perform Swan Lake! Their host family "dad" is a soloist in the Bolshoi Theatre, and got 3 free tickets to see the performance, and wanted them to invite someone! I was thrilled that they thought of me first!)) <--(P.S. that is a smiley in Russia! ) It was so much fun! First, he took us to the Grishko store, and we got some really fun stuff there! After that, we went to the performance and were surprised to see their host "mom" in the orchestra pit! She is a violinist, and we had NO idea she was performing that night! I DID, however, know ahead of time this time that my friend Josh was performing in the show, and was super excited to see him again! The show was AMAZING, just as we expected, and it was just a GREAT night and weekend in general!))

Until next time,
Tatum <3

(Originally posted August 2, 2011)

New city, new adventures, new memories, and old friends (week 1)

привет Москва!!!!!!

       Hi guys! I hope you all enjoyed my first blog ;P. So after my 3 weeks in New York City with Bolshoi, I left for Moscow, Russia! I can't believe how fast my time in New York went! I twas so much fun, but I was soooo excited to leave and finally be in Moscow at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy! And now I am FINALLY in Moscow, Russia! I have wanted to be here for so many years, and now my dream has come true! I AM IN MOSCOW! And I am training and living at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy! :)
          I cannot even describe to you how I feel! Everything that is happening to me is so surreal! Everyday I wake up and have to make sure I am actually here! AMAZING!
         My first week here was kind of just a week of settling in! We were all really jet-lagged and tired from our long day of travelling (or "days" since we left ssturday morning and got here on Sunday evening).  When we arrived to the dorms, it was raining really hard, and most of us just passed out that night! The next day we had our first ballet classes! We got our schedules in NYC before we left, and found out that we were going to be having many teachers throughtout our six weeks here! I think it is somewhere around 20 different Bolshoi teachers! That first day was so exciting, but so nerve-raking! It was so cool to see everything in the Academy! Here's a picture of the infamous Bolshoi hallway!

      After my first classes at the academy, we got to eat lunch and then had some free time before our Russian language class; a 2 1/2 to 3 hour class we take everyday! I went downstairs with my friend Margo while the other girls decided to go exchange their money at the банк! Then look who I got to see!

      I was SO surprised and happy to see my old friends from Bolshoi 2 summer ago! I have missed them so much! The one on the left is Artemiy, who now dances with the Bolshoi Theatre!  Anton is one of my friends from the very first summer of Bolshoi in Connecticut! Josh, the one on the right, was my ballet partner two years ago in New York! In the final show there, we danced Nutcracker Grand Pas together (I will upload a video later!) and he now dances for Stanislavskiy Ballet here in Moscow! It was nice catching up, and I also found out that Anton would be coming for the last 2 weeks to teach a Repertoire class at the academy!
     The rest of the week we worked really hard, so it was nice to get to go out to see the city sometimes! The program taakes us out every Tuesday and Thursday to a restaurant here in Moscow, that way we get to see the city and culture, and try new foods! We even took a master art class with Tseritelli, who is a famous Russian artist, as part of our Russian culture studies.
    On Wednesday, we were all SO excited to go see the Stanislavskiy perform Don Quixote! We made it just in time, and when the curtain opened, I was shocked to see my friend Josh on stage! I recognized his dancing immediately, and it was so exciting getting to see him perform in Russia!!!!! He even had his own part/ duet in the second act which was BEAUTIFUL!  He, and the rest of the company, were absolutely WONDERFUL! It was such a great performance!


         At the end of the week, we all had to leave to academy and go with our host families! Everyone was kind of nervous and excited, and luckily I got a really nice and friendly family! My host dad, Valery, my host mom, Marina, and their 23 year old son Nikita, were all very welcoming and excited to show us around Moscow! The first night they took us to Red Square and to walk around central Moscow! The most exciting part of that night was seeing the Bolshoi Theatre! Unfortunately, the theatre is under construction right now, but even with this, I LOVED seeing! When we first saw it, my heart literally stopped! It sounds cheesy and cliche, but it was really a dream come true! It was so overwhelming, because I have been dreaming of what it would be like to be here and seeing something so famous and beautiful!

    I really enjoyed my first week in this AMAZING city, and looking forward to the next 5 weeks!
Til' next time,
Tatum <3
p.s. sorry my blogging is a tad behind! I may be posting numerous posts a day because of the schedule im on! Moscow Week 2 blog coming soon!

(originally posted July 29, 2011)