Kirill Pankratov (neznaika_nalune) wrote,
Kirill Pankratov

Американские ученики в Большом

Любопытная статья из NYTimes Young Americans Embrace Rigors of the Bolshoi

...They were the future of Russian ballet, heirs to centuries of glorious Russian tradition, an elite few who had been chosen from across Russia.

Except, that is, for the one from Montana.

There he was, a boy named Julian MacKay, who not long ago was gathering eggs from a flock of chickens behind his home in Bozeman, who had turned his life upside down by moving to this strange land with its even stranger language to pursue his dream. All of 12 years old, he was having his Bolshoi debut in Moscow.

Leaving the stage, he glanced at the audience. “That was when it caught up with me that I was right there, an American at the Bolshoi,” he said.
Both Julian and Joy had experience in prominent American dance academies, but at first the Bolshoi instructors seemed to greet the two Americans with frowns. Their muscles were not properly developed. Their technique was sloppy. And though it was difficult to see extra pounds, they needed not only to lose weight, but also to lose it in certain places.

The first months were all the more challenging because they spoke little if any Russian when they started. Yet the two said that despite the pressure and the physical toll — Joy often wakes up unusually sore even for a dancer — this is where they yearned to be.

“The standards are such and the work ethic is such in Russia that there is no room for failure, there is no room for laziness, there is no room to be nice when it is not appropriate to be nice,” Joy said. “Russia is the best because there is this demand for excellence that there isn’t in any other part of the world.”
This is a government institution with about 750 full-time students who range in age from 10 to 18. Among them are about 90 foreigners from numerous countries, including Japan, Britain, Finland and Greece. East Asians in particular are heavily represented. Russians study free; foreigners each paid $18,000 in tuition this year. It’s a struggle for both Julian’s and Joy’s families.
Joy, whose dark hair sets off her pale skin and almond eyes, has the maturity, not to mention the discipline, of someone far older. She moved to Russia on her own and lives in the dormitory with Russian and foreign students. On some days she does not leave the building.

Growing up in Texas and California, Joy learned about Russian ballet from videos on the Internet. She so idolized Natalia Osipova, the Bolshoi star who is appearing with American Ballet Theater this season, that she burst into tears the first time she saw Ms. Osipova perform live.

“I had never seen dancers like that,” she said.

At first her large family — she has six brothers and two sisters — thought that her longing for Moscow was a teenager’s fantasy, but her parents allowed her to go. While she has never regretted it, she has had bouts of loneliness, especially during holidays like Thanksgiving.
She recalled the first time she appeared on the Bolshoi stage. “It changed my whole perspective on dancing, knowing that is what I want,” she said. “In America I never really felt that I fit in. I want to be Russian. It calls to me. Russia calls to me.”

Julian said he too felt a pull here. The first months were bewildering, he said, and he was grateful that his teachers did not give up on him.

“There have been times when I was like, ‘I don’t know whether I am ever going to be able to actually get it right,’ ” he said. “But if I didn’t come here, I would probably end up being a mediocre dancer. I want to be here as long I can.”

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