Monday, February 7, 2011

Dreaming of the Bolshoi

I had been back to dancing for about ten months at the start of the Christmas season of that year.  Three weeks before the long anticipated event, my family was in the midst of our annual tree and house decorating Saturday.  I found a new Pointe magazine on the counter waiting for me, and immediately began looking through it. The issue was geared towards students preparing for auditions for summer intensives.  I got the unwanted reminder that I never acquired that part of my training, when it was a given that all serious ballet students would attend one each year.  That put me even further behind the crowd.  I flipped through the pages and found a big ad for an audition for the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.  “Yeah right,” I told myself.  Then it caught my eye that it was a summer intensive being held in New York, and they were bringing their audition tour to San Diego.  The more I learned about it, the more disillusioned I became to my abilities, resulting from my increasingly strong desire to take part in it.  Polina Semionova, my favorite dancer in the entire universe and inspiration on the days I want to give up, was trained by the Bolshoi.  The highly esteemed teachers considered the best to be found would be teaching at the intensive.  I could be trained by the same people who had given their secrets of mastering ballet to the most beautiful ballerina ever!
I brought it up casually to my mom, not wanting to turn her off right away, and she shocked me by saying I should go for it.  We both agreed to take it as far as I could.  I would audition, giving me an experience right there that was valuable.  Then if accepted, I would attempt to raise enough money for airfare.  I was hoping to get a scholarship, but it seemed highly unlikely.  So I would also have to raise over three thousand dollars for tuition and board.  Yeah, it was a long shot.  And one where I so confident I would succeed in.  Why, I have no idea.  I'm terrified at California Ballet but now I can just expect to waltz into my first ever audition, being for the Bolshoi no less, nail it, and raise enough money in less than six months? 
I ignored those little voices in my head that were sensible.  I had never done an audition before, so how could I expect to do well in my very first?  It had been drilled into me from reading countless articles that it was an art in itself and needed as much practice as technique.  It is always suggested to do a few practice auditions, but the audition for the Bolshoi was over thirty dollars and I didn't want to spend any money on another audition.  I didn't see it as a problem though.  An audition follows the same pattern of a regular class, except for the whole panel of judges, intense pressure, and competition against a million other well trained dancers striving for the same goal.  No biggie I could handle it.  I'm not Russian trained, and the ballet school where they were holding the audition taught the Russian technique.  I had a thought, and this was the only one that made me think twice.  What if everyone at the audition was from that school and I was the only one that wasn't?  They would have a huge advantage.  But I reasoned the worry away by convincing myself the Bolshoi was a big deal and there would be more people than I wanted trying out, from all different places.  What if, because I was participating in the fifteen years and above audition, I was expected to do more than I was capable of?  I hadn't even been back to dancing for a year!  But no, I was so sure I would take the world by storm.  Yes, I would walk in and they would be amazed by me and my dancing.  Then they would offer me a full scholarship.  I would go to New York, followed by an invitation to join them full time in Moscow.  Seriously? 
The audition was to take place on January 30Th.  On the second day of the new year I started preparing.  I began a new diet, not for weight but for my skin, that had the added benefit of improving my dancing.  I ate better, which in turn made me feel better.  What a concept.  Anyways, I eliminated sugar, dairy, bad fats, and processed foods.  I didn't suffer, as I realized junk food didn't actually taste good anyways.  Even ice cream lost its appeal after a while.  My dancing was reaching new levels because of my increased energy from this diet.  I got into a regular schedule with ballet, which I always strive for but was a lost cause over Christmas break no matter how hard I tried to keep it.  I felt better and better with each class, and I started private lessons with one of my favorite teachers at APA.  The lesson was on pointe, so now I finally had some direction to follow in that department.  Things were really going well, and I was confident.  What a change in my thinking.
About a week before the audition date there was a show in Orange County.  It was a premiere of some new works by choreographers from the west working with dancers from Russia.  I'm not just talking about any dancers, but I mean the best of the best.  And to top the list would be Polina Semionova.  Well on my list that is.  She wasn't the only star included in the show.  There was a group of great dancers besides her, one of them being Natalia Osipova.  I had to see it, so my amazing brother gave me tickets as a Christmas gift. The seats turned out to be close to stage, which I appreciated.  He didn't want me to take him, not being into ballet and all, and my mom was supposed to take Chloe to a dance.  My dad took me and enjoyed it just as much as I did.  He shares my appreciation for the arts.
The night turned out to be magical from beginning to end.  It felt unreal.  We started out going to dinner then making the long drive to Orange County.  We came upon the theater and gasped at it's stunning award winning architecture,   It  was huge, just the way I like it. Anyone that knows me also knows I have a taste for high society events, although we don't get involved with stuff like that too often.  I walked in noting  the inside was just as nice.  The building was only a warm up of quality things to come that night.  The dancing was the most incredible I've ever seen live so far in my life.  I sat in my seat as the lights dimmed, finding it hard to believe that Polina could be on the other side of the closed red curtain.  The curtain opened to one male and one female dancer.  She was holding a red rose, and rolled toward the audience with out a single musical note escaping from the orchestra pit.  It was as if everything except this dancer stood still while we waited, not daring to blink for fear of missing something spectacular.  Was it her?  I couldn't tell until she got up to dance.  I knew those  fluid moves anywhere, and tapped my dad repeatedly until he got the message.  It was Polina.  Every dancer was breath taking, and they all had one thing in common.  They trained at the Bolshoi. 
By the time the show ended it was past eleven.  I had been wearing high heels for six or seven hours and it was freezing outside.  But I couldn't complain as my dad and I circled outside the theater for a while trying to find the stage door.  It wasn't everyday we went on a search for Polina.  We finally found the door and I started to get nervous.  What was I supposed to say to her!  As we stood there I noticed a petite lady with short, black hair walk by.  Was that Natalia?  I wasn't sure, but then a fan ran by with a camera yelling her name and giving it away.  I don't think I could do that if Polina walked by. 
We continued waiting for a while longer, until I fell into my dad's arms.  I thought it was one of my typical klutzy moments, although worse than usual considering I fell off balance standing still, but I felt dizzy after he tried to steady me.  I say I almost fainted because it had been hours since I had eaten and it was late.  My dad says I was starstruck.  In any case, we abandoned our mission early, found the car, and drove away.  As we were driving by I saw a group of dancers on the sidewalk.  I couldn't tell you there names, but I knew they were all first class. 
I fell asleep on the car ride home, and when we pulled up to the house past one in the morning I felt like it was all a dream.  It was horribly interrupted when I remembering I needed to get up early the next day.  As I feel asleep, this time in the comfort of my bed, I felt the want so badly to be as good as those dancers one day. 
I was equipped with all I needed to succeed at the audition.  My dancing was getting better, I was eating healthy, and I was given some much needed inspiration.  I thought there was no way I wouldn't walk away from the audition with what I wanted.  I learned that maybe the Bolshoi wasn't what I wanted.


  1. Your story is awesome, so far! Do you remember what diet did you follow?

  2. Thank-you! I cut out all sugar, (except for natural sugar found in fruits) dairy, and processed foods. I only eat real foods and have fruit for dessert