Friday, November 11, 2011

It Happens Once in a Lifetime!

Hi everyone,
So sorry it has been such a LONG time! As most of you know, I have just transitioned into the next chapter of my life, and am finally making the time to blog.
By now, most everyone knows that I am no longer with Kirov Ballet Academy in Washington, DC. It was a bittersweet decision. It was hard to leave such a huge part of my life behind, but I know that everything that I learned and the relationships there will forever be with and apart of me.

Outside of the Academy on the famous Rossi street
Currently, I am living in St. Petersburg, Russia. I was INCREDIBLY honored to receive an invitation to train at the world renowned Vaganova Ballet Academy (Академии Русского балета имени А.Я.Вагановой), and I am now a full-time student here! It was a big BIG step to take, but I have now been here for about 6 weeks (I left October 1, after having a blast with my friends at my old high school's homecoming), and I now know that I really belong here! For those of you who do not know much about ballet, some brief information about the school and history. In ballet, there are different ballet techniques/styles that you can train in (Vaganova, Balenchine, Cecchetti are three major ones), and the most "classical" is the Vaganova method, started at the academy and by the founder of the school, Agripinna Vaganova. This method of Russian Ballet is studied all over the world; the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, Kirov Academy, among many others. Graduates of the school include the world's most famous dancers; Baryshnikov, Nureyev, Pavlova, Ulanova, Makarova, Grigorovich, Folkine, Chabukiani, Lopatkina, Somova, Vishneva, and Balanchine, to name very few. Needless to say, I am honored and grateful beyond belief to be here!

My dad flew out with me, and we had about 26 hours of traveling! It was exhausting, to say the least, but my fatigue did not stop my nerves! I could hardly believe that I was going to Russia, let alone one of the, if not THE world's most famous, and most prestigious ballet schools! When we arrived at the academy, it was so dark and foggy that I could barely tell it was the real thing, and the only thing I really deciphered was the statue of Ulanova outside of the dorms. It did not really hit me until the next morning when I walked outside to the famous light yellow Rossi street that I was even in the academy. That first day was the most surreal thing that I think that I have ever experienced! I walked down Zochego Rossi, in RUSSIA with my dad. I meet Altynai Asylmuratova, saw Selutskiy, walked into the famous Rep. Zal (реп зал, the famous studio that you see in documentaries with Vaganova's picture) and watched Sitnikova's graduating class. And then, I took my first class from Mme. Tatiana Alexandrovna Udalenkova in the VAGANOVA BALLET SCHOOL! And my dad was there to greet me when I was done. He was here the first week to help me get settled, which was great! It was so much fun to explore the city with him, and pretty humorous to hear him try to speak Russian ;P. It was sad to say goodbye, but I am so grateful that he got to spend at least a little time here!

Since then, I feel like I am now a part of the academy. First, I was super grateful that everyone was really kind and willing and eager to help me. Unlike my past experiences, there really is MINIMAL english speaking here (there are only 5 of us in the whole school; 2 are Russian)! My roommate is from Canada, but she is Russian, and was/is so helpful! The girls in my class were all very welcoming and helpful as well, and I am happy that I became friends quickly with them! I study under the first course of grade 6. It is very confusing, and take a lot of explaining to understand the courses here, but I am extremely EXTREMELY happy with my class. My teacher, Mme. Udalenkova, has been a teacher at the academy for many years, and was the teacher of many greats, including Ekaterina Kondaurova. Her class is very difficult, but I enjoy it every day, and am so happy to have such a caring, but tough teacher!
реп зал
I also am finally starting to find my way around the school without getting lost! That may sound silly, but the school is HUGE! It is just like Hogwarts; old, beautiful, and a BILLION staircases! And this is only HALF of the school. The other wing is under construction right now, so we will see how I manage that when it reopens in December! I am going to start timing how long it takes me to get from my room to some of the studios... it is really a journey every time!

My days here are long but rewarding. My schedule consist of ballet "classika" everyday (including pointe class), and a rotating schedule of partnering, acting, modern, and character. Before that begins, however, I also take a Russian language class. There are only two of us in this class, so I hope that I will be fluent soon!.. or at least close! Usually, my day starts at 10:45 and ends around 8:30, although that differs everyday (once we finished at almost 10:30... 12 hours straight of dancing). Everyday, after all of my classes are done, I am still smiling. It feels great to work hard and be doing what I love, and although I do not have the typical "teenage" life anymore, I am where I want to be, and I would not trade my life for anything!

Coming here, I was starting later than the rest of the school, which had begun the year in September. I knew that it would be difficult to just jump in, and I was also told that coming late, I would not have some of the priviledges that the other students had. I would not be taking a proper placement class, as well as the fact that Nutcracker (щелкунчик "shelkoonchik") casting and rehearsals began before I arrived, so I was told I would most likely not be in the show.
The show for the end of the year began my first week here (the show is not until May!), so I have rehearsals for that twice a week. I am rehearsing Gamzatti's, as well as "Diamond" in Sleeping Beauty (there are 5 of us rehearsing for that part, 3 from the graduation class). Last week, however, my teacher told me after class that I will be dancing in the Snow scene from Nutcracker! I was SO excited! We began rehearsals yesterday, and already got through the whole dance. Performances start in December, and we are going to be performing in the Mariinsky Theatre (!!!!!), as well as touring!

The Mariinsky Theatre

First of many trips to the Mariinsky

Speaking of Mariinsky, one of the perks of being a Vaganova student, besides the obvious (BEING here), is the free tickets we get to the Mariinsky! We get free to tickets to any shows we want to go see at the Mariinsky theatre and the Mikhailovskiy Theatre. I spend a lot of my weekends watching ballets, and I know how many people would KILL to have tickets whenever they wanted to watch Vishneva or Lopatkina! I AM SO LUCKY!
Got to see my FAVORITE ballet, "Giselle", for my first time at the Mariinsky

My time here has been AMAZING to say the very least! Sometimes I wake up and forget where I am, and when I realize, it STILL does not always feel real! It is truly a dream come true to be studying here; I have worked so hard for this, but I could not have gotten where I am today without all of you who support and help me! So 'thank you', to all of my teachers in the past and present, to my family for EVERYTHING, my friends, and anyone else reading this.
I have truly been given the opportunity of a life time!
... I am forever grateful!

and I promise I will be blogging more often from now on,.... there is far too much that I have not mentioned, and a lot that I can barely put into words, but please continue to follow me as I "dance around the world"!
Татум <3

Also, if you are close to me, then you know that I am very superstitious, and I love making my wishes ;P. Today, like my life, is very rare, and only happens once in a lifetime. Today is 11.11.11. This blog post  is posted at exactly 11:11 on 11/11/11. Happy wishing!

Special dedication to my beautiful Annette Buvoli. First of all, because I am blogging at Vaganova... AH! And the second reason is obvious; the day!Always been there for me, and I miss you so much! <3