We’d like to tell you about the second intramural audition for the Young Artists Ballet Program of the Bolshoi Theater, whose partner is the Ingosstrakh insurance company.
There is still one hour to go before the crucial class, but all those who have passed the correspondence selection stage for the Young Artists Ballet Program of the Bolshoi Theater are already here. They are putting on a brave face. They are standing in a tight - you might even say close - circle. Five girls and two boys. It so happened that all of them, except one applicant, are graduates of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet. Five of them are classmates. They received their diplomas just a couple of days ago. Memories of dancing at the real ball in the Catherine Palace could’ve been an excellent topic for communication now, but today each of them claims a ticket to a new life, so it's time to look to the future.
At 4 a.m. this morning nobody was absolutely sure that all of the applicants would make it to the main theater of the country in due time. Some "tried" to oversleep, others were a bit late to arrive at the airport. But everything worked out. The participants are whispering: “It’s all because the partner of the Young Artists Ballet Program is Ingosstrakh, an insurance company - we’ve been insured against such failures.” Indeed, the organizers were surprisingly quick to resolve all the issues arising and all the young ballet dancers gathered at the visitors pass desk just in time.
Victoria Glazunova couldn’t make it to the previous intramural audition in March due to coronavirus restrictions, but the organizers gave her a second chance, and, although three months late, she is, nonetheless, here, so close to the world of new professional opportunities.
Maria Konkova and Yulia Bondareva are among those who graduated from the Vaganova Academy (Yulia Kasenkova’s class), and they did it brilliantly - both received honors.
Akib and Amira Anwar are an excellent example of how the elder sister's hobby for ballet became the center of attraction for the interests of a whole family, and parents brought their younger son to take exams at the choreographic school.
Alexandra Grinchak took her first steps in classical dance at the Kiev Choreographic School, but her desire to receive a classical education at the legendary school brought the girl to the Vaganova Academy.
Vladimir Kireev is also a graduate of the choreographic academy in St. Petersburg, however, he received his diploma a year earlier and the last theatrical season had already worked with Boris Eifman’s ballet company.
All of them can’t wait to begin. To get into this rehearsal room, the guys pass all the formalities and technicalities smoothly and efficiently. The required signatures have been collected. Photos for the passes have been taken. Temperature measured. Participants in the Young Artists Ballet Program pass through the turnstiles and quickly go to the dressing room. They are rapidly changing their clothes for training suits. And go to the hall. There is very little time left to warm up.
Ten minutes before the official start of the class, everyone is already at the barre. The accompanist is at the piano. Numerous journalists try to be as inconspicuous as possible but they are not good at it. Which is not surprising as there are 14 mass media representatives per 7 young ballet dancers. It is clear from the confused looks on the participants’ faces: they were not at all ready for such attention. Surprise number one. And they have to accept it.
And here is another one: People's Artist of the USSR Lyudmila Semenyaka comes in. Plus one extra degree on the thermometer of their excitement. This visit by the Bolshoi legend has not been announced, which is not surprising as auditions at the Bolshoi are open and any of the artists can always come to make up their mind about the talent of their younger colleagues.
Following Lyudmila Semenyaka, Maria Allash, a teacher-repetiteur of the Bolshoi, People's Artist of Russia, enters the rehearsal hall. She is going to lead the guys through all the ballet class stages today.
At the appointed time, without giving all those gathered a chance to kick their heels waiting for too long, Makhar Vaziev himself appears. Instead of taking the seat prepared for him right away, he approaches the guys. They instantly make a circle around the Ballet Artistic Director. A steady gaze is what distinguishes this communication. Makhar Vaziev is looking at the guys closely while they are answering his questions, the young people don’t take their eyes off him. A couple of sharp remarks, a big smile and an important question: "How's the mood?" The guys assure: “It’s fine!” However, without even trying to hide their excitement.
Before taking his seat, the Ballet Artistic Director gives his final instructions:
- Calm down! Relax, don't worry! If you achieve something, it will become even better!
Both the organizers of the Young Artists Ballet Program and the young artists are interested in the guys showing everything they are capable of. Maria Allash invites everyone to take their places at the barre.
The beginning is traditional - demi-plié combinations.
During the first exercise, the chief choreographer carefully studies not only the technique of performing the tasks set by the teacher - he also closely examines the training suits of the guys. The thing is that this time participants of the audition didn’t have an opportunity to show their individuality and attract attention of the high jury with their bright outfits. For the June meeting with the young talents, the organizers have determined the dress code: branded rehearsal bodysuits of the Young Artists Ballet Program. In a pause between the end of one and the beginning of another set of exercises at the barre, Makhar Khasanovich checks if the entire Young Artists troupe will have such suits. But Maria Allash, without slowing down the pace of the lesson, gives the next combination, and the question hangs in the air.
- In the fourth plié, full ronde, press, close. In the fourth plié, full ronde, press, close. In the second demi-plié, in the second demi-plié - one, two, three! One, two, three! Close.
Maria Allash speaks the sequence of exercises in a composition quickly enough. Applicants try to remember the sequence, doing circles in the air with their arms. But it is obvious: this lesson at the theater is different from what they had at the academy. The combinations are more complicated, the requirements are higher. Having noticed that not everyone can do everything in time, Maria Evgenievna repeats again.
They try very hard - there is no doubt about it - but the temperature outside that is abnormal for a Moscow summer and importance of the moment seem to push the potential achievement of the goal away from the young artists with every minute.
18 minutes of the lesson have passed. Makhar Vaziev looks intently at Vladimir and as soon as the set of exercises ends, asks:
– How tall are you?
– One eighty-six.
– Will you grow taller?
– I don’t know. I’m 20.
– Wow, why have you given up?.. You may grow taller! We’ll only be too glad!
At 11:25 a.m., the participants move to the center.
And Vaziev casually asks them about the prom.
– It was okay, they answer almost in unison.
– Up till morning? Drinking champagne?
The guys smile shyly.
– I see you’ve got something to remember, right?
Maria Evgenievna, listening to the dialogue, says: "Happy people!"
– Alright, let’s do adagio now. Grand plié in the first position - and one, and two, two pirouettes, and finish with effacé. Pick up your leg, full ronde, down in the third arabesque, walk around and tour lent. Walk back, a la seconde. Fouetté, pas de bourrée. Sit in the fourth arabesque and jump over. Two tours, in the first arabesque, half-toes. All the same with the left foot.
Before repeating the sequence of exercises in the first combination in the center, all the applicants are divided into two groups.
Amira hopes to be in the center together with her brother, but he is sent to the first three. Maria and Victoria come to the center with Akib. This group was in a rather difficult situation — they had to react very quickly. There was no time for repetition. Every combination you perform will be evaluated. The second team was much luckier, so the four applicants used this time to the fullest. Vladimir, Alexandra, Amira and Yulia were gliding along the barre. They turned into shadows and repeated, repeated, repeated….
Each of them understands: precision and coherence are important. But either because of extreme excitement or because of the heat (thermometer outside the window shows almost +40°C), every movement is so difficult for the contestants to do.
A little over 15 minutes for adagio. And it’s time for the most dynamic and spectacular part of the class - allegro. Apparently, at this stage, natural fatigue is added to the excitement and heat... A sonorous voice spreads through the hall: "Stop, stop!"
The Ballet Artistic Director, Makhar Vaziev, watching the participants try to concentrate, can’t hide his surprise. What happened to the people who made such a good impression on the master during the correspondence audition?
- Listen, you’re looking at Maria Evgenievna's feet like... There is nothing new here! School program! Glissade, glissade double assemblé! Come on, guys!
Makhar Vaziev insists on thinking faster.
Everyone got back to their starting positions and began to move that very way the mentors were expecting from the young colleagues. Contestants cross the rehearsal hall diagonally, as if hovering in the air for a moment.
Makhar Khasanovich sighs with relief:
- Well, finally, you’ve figured it out!
From the way it is said, it becomes clear: they’ve exercised their right to make mistakes, there will be no more chance. When there were a little less than 10 minutes left till the end of the class, the young artists managed to pull themselves together. The Ballet Artistic Director is focused and stern. The journalists present are trying to guess who will move on to the next stage in this choreographic competition.
The class is over. To make his final decision, Makhar Vaziev must still talk to all the participants in person. But this will happen a little later - now on the schedule of the Artistic Director is the rehearsal of a new ballet, The Seagull.
The interview is taking place at 1.00 p.m. A thorough conversation. A pause for thought and... all members of the “magnificent seven” become interns of the Young Artists Ballet Program of the Bolshoi Theater! Tomorrow at the same time, their mentors will be waiting for them in the bright rehearsal halls. And during these individual classes, participants of the program will have an opportunity to catch up on what they failed to master during their studies at specialized academies.
Throughout their training, Ingosstrakh will pay them a scholarship, the Bolshoi will cover accommodation expenses, and the young dancers will be able to simply immerse themselves in ballet and once again demonstrate their skills, reaction speed and, most importantly, their willingness to learn new things. The Young Artists Ballet Program is in action!