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A tutu-clad stampede descended on the Bolshoi Ballet as the world-famous corps-de-ballet held its firstever open auditions last month.
The Moscow News joined some of the hopefuls itching for a chance to set out on the celebrated stage.
© Photo / Courtesy of Bolshoi TheatreYevgenia Savarskaya said the audition was a challenge
With hundreds of applicants whittled down to a shortlist of 50 – 23 women and 27 men – simply getting through the doors was a major achievement.
But having got so close to what, for many dancers, was a lifelong dream, the pressure was starting to tell.
Yevgenia Savarskaya is a familiar face to Moscow ballet lovers, thanks to her role as a soloist with the Kremlin Ballet Theater.
But even she admitted to a touch of stage-fright in front of the judges.
“It was so hard, so I’m not sure if would go through that again,” she said shortly after dancing for the panel.
“Probably I’ll say something completely different in a year’s time, but it was such a serious emotional challenge, so I just don’t know for now,” she added.
Savarskaya said she’d like to further her career in the Bolshoi – and not only for professional reasons.
“My spouse works here and I dream of joining this company and working together with him,” she said.
Friends and rivals
Ballet has a fearsome reputation for back-stage back-stabbing, and Moscow’s intense dance community added an extra element to the competition.
Margarita Shrainer, a graduate of the Bolshoi’s academy, is looking for her first job, and is well aware of the competition she faces.
“All of us are so different,” she said. “Some have better technique for jumps and some for fouettés,” she said.
Meanwhile, the organizers were out for raw talent as well as proven experience, with the ideal candidates coming from those with less than five years at other theaters.
However, people who have been on the stage for a while also had a chance.
Yevgeny Truposkiadi, a dancer at Moscow’s Nemirovich-Danchenko theatre, has been performing professionally for about 10 years.
“You have to use any chance to get a step up,” Truposkiadi said. “And for me it’s like getting on a train that is leaving the station. If you manage to do that in the right moment – you’re there, and if not – you miss it.”
Hopeful ballet dancers were reaching out for a chance to join the Bolsho.
Most contestants were based in Moscow, but other Russian and Ukrainian cities were represented, and there was even a scattering of trans-Atlantic candidates.
For one hopeful, taking the stage in Russia would continue a family tradition.
“My great, great grandmother was a soloist at the Mariinsky and it would be nice to work in this part of the world,” Tarasina Masi said.
Masi, a dancer with the USA Ballet, hoped to get a chance to work in Europe, but unfortunately it’s not going to be at the Bolshoi just yet.
She was eliminated by the jury before the panel asked the contestants to show their curtseys – the last figure they had to demonstrate.
“It’s actually the first time when I got cut before the audition was finished,” she said outside of the audition hall that she left after one of the panel members explained the situation to her in her mother tongue.
Masi speaks no Russian and couldn’t understand when Sergei Filin, the head of the ballet at the Bolshoi, called out some names and said the rest should go.
But she wasn't too disheartened. “I’m happy with where I am now and with the offers I’ve got – I don’t mind starting with a smaller company at first,” she said.
And the American ballerina isn’t giving up the idea of working for the Bolshoi. “Probably, one day,” she said.
© Photo / Xenia Voronova / www.xeniavoronova.comMario Labrador (left) and Gabe Stone Shayer (right) with trainer Sol
Masi’s compatriots Gabe Stone Shayer and Mario Labrador were also looking to get a job in the Russian Bolshoi ambitions All the action behind the scenes as the Bolshoi Ballet holds its first open auditions theater after being trained in the Bolshoi Academy.
“I came from a very small dance school in California and it seemed like a dream to me to study here,” Labrador said. “I never thought I could come since Russia seemed like its own powerful nation - but then I did.
“My friend encouraged me to try, and I’d of course love to stay here if I’m invited,” he added.
Shayer said he had a Russian ballet teacher. “My mom has always encouraged my interest in different cultures and I got interested in Russia – I saw Baryshnikov, Nijinsky and Nureyev,” he said. “And even though they left, they all came from here and that is why I came to train here.”
The chosen few
After the audition, 10 female and 12 male contestants were invited to an interview, and, following that final appraisal, newmembers of the Bolshoi company are to be introduced to the public in August, representatives of the press-service told The Moscow News.
But ballet fans will have to wait before seeing the future stars in action.
Ballet company manager Ruslan Pronin said it was unlikely they would feature much straight away. “They need time to get ready, and it would be unrealistic for them to start performing in the coming season.”
And while the dancers found it tough, Pronin said that it wasn’t easy for the judges either.
“It’s the first time we’ve done this, and it’s all very personal,” he said. “We invited many of our staff members so they could all give their judgments.”
The new arrivals will be joining the organization as it commences one of its most eagerly awaited seasons in years.
The theater’s ornate main stage is due to return to action in October after years of renovation.
After years on the smaller “New Stage” adjacent to the famous but aging building on Teatralnaya Ploshchad, the grand return means a chance to hold larger scale productions once again.
“We have great plans for the coming season and we will have to hold performances on both stages,” Pronin said.Read other articles of the print issue "The Moscow News #55"
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