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Russian ballet stars once defected to the west in search of artistic freedom. These days, western dancers are lured east by the iron discipline of a Russian ballet education. Let's head to the Bolshoi Ballet Academy to check out the trend.
These days, western dancers are lured east by the iron discipline of a Russian ballet education.
Around 100 foreigners from all over the world are enrolled at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, formally known as the Moscow State Academy of Choreography.
Seventeen-year old American dancer Joy Womack, who grew up in California and Texas came to Moscow when she was 15, knowing little Russian, to take on the demanding schedule of practice, acting classes and rehearsal, all in a second language and culture.
Joy Womack, trainee, said, "It is the oldest and the most famous school in the world for ballet and the traditions are kept so well here and they really get into what really is classical ballet and the technique and the artistry and the passion that I am learning here is something that is worth moving thousands of miles away for."
Twenty-one year old Californian Mario Vitale Labrador is also studying at the academy and says that his training has been a physical challenge - changing from a three day a week "hobby after school" to a hardcore six-day week, has pushed him to achieve things that he never thought he could.
Mario Vitale Labrador, trainee, said, "Here at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy it's very strict and they don't tolerate with slack, and, you know, you're not allowed to be lazy. Even if you have an injury you're supposed to, you know, work through it and actually push more so that your muscles can be warm and work around it. It's a different thinking method but it actually really works."
Academy director Marina Leonova, a graduate of the school and former Bolshoi soloist, says the school's long history of producing world-class ballet performers has more to do with hard work than anything else.
Marina Leonova said, "There's a whole system of education that has been handed down from generation to generation from the best to the best. And we invest this in our students."
Leonova's school is attracting more and more foreigners, eager to become disciples of the Bolshoi's strict standards. Six of the 14 dancers on stage at one rehearsal for a show were foreigners.