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Bolshoi Ballet Academy--Moscow, Russia

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Bonitathree

I asked about the schedule, and the response I got was that it depends on the class/level that DD is placed in. The curriculum listed included classical, repertoire, character, pointe, historical, stretching, modern and Russian language. As for performances, the Academy Professors Board and Rector decide who can take part - their words, not mine!

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Bonitathree

I sent an email to the Academy but didn't get a response about how to secure a visa. I think I read that the Academy helps the student?? Also, anyone know of a hotel near the Academy?

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wannabe

My DD attended Vaganova a couple years ago and they sent a letter that needed to be sent in when applying for the visa. We used an online visa service. The process was not difficult but they did ask lots of questions. We found out at the last moment that she needed an HIV test as part of the visa process. So make sure you have that done!

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Bonitathree

Good to know! Thanks, wannabe.

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txmomof6

My DD was a trainee at the Bolshoi Academy this past year. I meant to get on here sooner to see if there were any parents looking for information, but life got in the way. Last year there were about 12 Americans enrolled at the Academy. Some students were selected to audition for Course 1 and 1 student was selected. The remaining students were trainees for the year. No performances. My daughter was in a group that was selected to audition to be in a recital-type performance. The audition was pretty high stakes and they were not selected. My daughter kept a blog of her year at the academy. You can google Walked to Russia and should find it.

 

Would I recommend you send your 15 year old to Moscow? Such a hard decision. It IS a lot of money. Would you consider letting her go for 3 years? School is tricky, internet is unreliable and many students struggle to keep up with academics. They usually have several hours of Russian language homework every night. There is a lot of down time, as the trainees don't dance 8 hours a day. The dorm rooms are tiny. The food is nothing like your daughter is used to. The water is bad. The sun shines maybe 6 hours a day in winter, and about 18 hours in spring/early summer. There are amazing cultural opportunities. The teaching is MUCH harsher than what they experience at BBASI. Your daughter will be slapped, yelled at and called all kinds of hurtful names. Will she have something on her dance resume that few others have? Absolutely.

 

If your 15 year old is a strong, emotionally stable, secure, mature person, then I would say to maybe let her go. If you're hesitant for anything, keep her home. Knowing what we know, we wouldn't have sent our daughter as a 15 year old. She turned 18 while in Russia, was homeschooled and ahead in many subjects so she only studied Russian ballet, language and culture. If you read her blog, you'll see how her experience caused a lot of growth for her. IMHO, 15 is pretty young to experience a year in Moscow without family.

Edited by txmomof6

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Bonitathree

Thank you for the great feedback, txmomof6! Gathering information has been a huge task. We have decided to wait until next February for DD to attend. She will be turning 16 then, and if for whatever reason she doesn't like the program or is having difficulties keeping up with her academic studies, it will be less traumatic if we are dealing with a few months versus a year over there. Definitely a tough decision, but the advice and honest feedback helps us be realistic about what to expect. BTW, I read your DD's blog and found it to be enlightening and entertaining. Best wishes to her!

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txmomof6

There were a few students that came for the first time in January and February. It has it's own set of challenges. But it certainly is short term. If I can suggest you look into some Russian language study now. Also have her get in touch with other American students from BBASI that are maybe going for the first time as I'm not certain who all of the returning students are other than [. ] and she will be very busy. . . . . They will be her lifeline as far as translating and showing her around. Know, too, that your DD might not have English speaking roommates and there's no guarantee that their ages or lifestyles will be similar. The academy fills rooms as students arrive, so your daughter will likely be placed in a room with other students who might not be native English speakers.

 

If you need help or have additional questions, as you begin your preparations, feel free to contact us [although] I'm not on here regularly.

 

A few necessities:

Comfort foods

Water Filter

Linens

A good power adapter/converter

Edited by dancemaven
Removed minor's names and identifying information per BT4D Rules and Policies.

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txmomof6

I was looking over this and wanted to add one more thing about my DD's experience at the academy. Weight is VERY important in Russian ballet. At BBASI, [ ] is the standard for being lifted in partnering class. The teachers in Moscow will be relentless about weight. There is a weight chart in the contract you sign with the academy. In signing that page, you acknowledge their weight standards. My 5'6 daughter should be under [ ] lbs by their standards... There were at least 2 or 3 occasions that were weigh in days. On a Monday, DD's class was informed that they would be weighed on Thursday and they were ALL instructed to NOT EAT until after they were weighed. Anorexia and bulimia are rampant and not discouraged at the academy. The thinnest girls get the most attention and the best barre spots. My DD was ranked in the middle of her class: not quite thin enough and "not fat like the others". She became very ill in the spring, requiring hospitalization for several days. When she returned to class a week later, having lost close to 10 pounds, her teacher changed her barre spot. Since it's such an important element to how the academy operates, I thought it would be important to mention it, especially if your DD struggles with these issues.

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StVitus

Weight is not just important for the girls also for the boys. Do not forget toilet paper, one needs to have their own.

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Victoria Leigh

I was looking over this and wanted to add one more thing about my DD's experience at the academy. Weight is VERY important in Russian ballet. At BBASI, [ ] is the standard for being lifted in partnering class. The teachers in Moscow will be relentless about weight. There is a weight chart in the contract you sign with the academy. In signing that page, you acknowledge their weight standards. My 5'6 daughter should be under [ ] lbs by their standards... There were at least 2 or 3 occasions that were weigh in days. On a Monday, DD's class was informed that they would be weighed on Thursday and they were ALL instructed to NOT EAT until after they were weighed. Anorexia and bulimia are rampant and not discouraged at the academy. The thinnest girls get the most attention and the best barre spots. My DD was ranked in the middle of her class: not quite thin enough and "not fat like the others". She became very ill in the spring, requiring hospitalization for several days. When she returned to class a week later, having lost close to 10 pounds, her teacher changed her barre spot. Since it's such an important element to how the academy operates, I thought it would be important to mention it, especially if your DD struggles with these issues.

 

In reading this, I don't think I would send a child to this Academy at any age.

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learningdance

 

I concur. . .

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Bonitathree

Great info, txmomof6! This has sparked some serious discussions with my DD, and while she is still determined to attend, it really has helped so she knows what to expect and will be more prepared to deal with it. She has started a Russian language class and has reached out to some BBASI friends. All great advice!

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txmomof6

Once a student attends BBASI, they know that the teaching style is nothing like American ballet. The teachers are harsh, even in NYC. But it's significantly toned down compared to what it is like in Moscow. Weight was a significant issue in NYC as well. My DD's final score in her academy exams were affected by her weight...she didn't have "proper form"... It is a mentally and emotionally grueling place to be. It's certainly a resume builder, but IMHO, the emotional abuse is a pretty steep price to pay. Pair that with living conditions that make one question if Russia is an industrialized nation. My DD and her two American roommates were all invited to return this fall. None of them are returning.

 

There are about 100 International Students at the Academy. With about 12 Americans. Americans are not well liked at the Academy (they're dumb, fat and rich), or in Moscow in general. When DD had first arrived last fall, the International Department at the Academy told them to speak little English while out and about in Moscow, and if they were asked if they were American, they were instructed to say they were from Canada.

 

Also know, Bonitathree, that your DD will receive the necessary paperwork/invitation to apply for a VISA. You will receive NO assistance from the Academy in obtaining a visa if you are planning to accompany your daughter. You will need to get your own invitation to travel to Russia. When my daughter was hospitalized this spring in Moscow, I could not go to be with her. The process of obtaining even an emergency VISA takes up to a week. I could have flown to Moscow the day she was admitted to the hospital...but I would not have been able to leave the airport.

Edited by txmomof6

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dancemaven

I'm not sure I would consider sending my DK to this program-----or any program----with the thought that it 'is a resume builder'. I think of a 'resume builder' as something on my resume that gets attention simply by virtue of it being listed, whether it had significant value in terms of experience or not. Something along the lines of a 'brand name' giving cache regardless of its true quality. And, of course, the hope would be that it would catch the eye of the powers that be sufficiently to make them want to call me in for an interview.

 

In the dance world, however, resumes are NOT the driving force of getting one in the door. The written resume is only an afterthought. Auditions are either open or by invitation. If by invitation, it is a video that cinches the invitation, not a written resume. The resume may be included, but whether it is even reviewed is questionable. At the auditions, resumes are often not even collected until AFTER a dancer has survived all the cuts. Its use is more to see whom the AD might call to check on work ethic, references, etc. By that point, the dancer's technique has carried the day.

 

So, the only consideration for training is really: 'Will this program improve my technique, my artistry, my ability to convey something through my dance?" It should not be "will this program look good on a written resume?"

 

Attending this Russian program would certainly be an adventure and an experience. Thank you txmomof6 for providing us all with a candid look at the nature of the adventure and experience this program offers for an American young dancer.

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michgem

Thank you txmomof6 this is great information and makes me feel better about saying no to DD. I still think even with the harshness it sounds like an adventure.

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