Hello! My name is Daltrey Schmidt and I’m a 17 year old dancer from California. I attend City Ballet School of San Francisco and am in the Pre-Professional Program. This past February, my teacher, Galina Alexandrova, invited the students of the school to come on a 10 day trip to Moscow to visit the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and experience the city where our style of ballet was born!
I was lucky enough to be able to go on this incredible trip thanks to my parents, grandparents, Kathryn Morgan and the generous staff at DanceWear Corner! I can’t thank these people enough for extending such kindness to me and helping make this trip happen. We thought it would be really exciting for me to write a blog post to share my experiences with those who might not have the opportunity to go. So sit back, relax, and enjoy…here it goes!
Sunday, February 18th 2018
Today was our first full day in Moscow! We arrived late last night after close to 20 hours of traveling, but the jet-lag didn’t diminish our excitement to be in Russia. Especially us Californians, we were in total awe of snow! Today, we attended our first performance at the Bolshoi Ballet, New Stage.
We saw “A Hero of Our Time”, choreographed by Yuri Possokhov. The entire ballet was incredible; everything from the sets to the costumes, orchestra, opera singers, and the theater was breathtaking. There was a lot of corps men work and they absolutely blew us away. And the ballerinas…! We saw Olga Marchenkova, Maria Vinogradova, and Anastasia Stashkevich. Each one had her own unique artistry, but they all had incredible technique, facility, and fantastic stage presence.
Observing curtain calls was pretty cool too! Russian audiences will start synchronously clapping if they want the dancers to come out and bow in front of the curtain again. The dancers we saw came out an extra 3 times! You can really feel how much the audiences love ballet here, and it’s so refreshing.
Wednesday, February 21st, 2018
Today we are over half-way through our classes at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy! So far, everything has been incredible. The Academy is so gorgeous; there are just hallways and hallways lined with beautiful studios!
Our teacher is Anna Antonicheva, an ex-principal dancer with the Bolshoi, who just retired last year. She’s incredible; her legs and feet are to die for and she can still demonstrate perfectly for us. Ms. Antonicheva doesn’t speak English, but that doesn’t pose a problem at allOur teacher Galina translates for us, plus her hand and leg motions make it obvious what she’s correcting us on. She tells us many of the same things that Galina does, but in a slightly different manner, which can help refresh them for us and help corrections get into our bodies in a new way.
Overall, class is pretty similar to what we’re used to back home in San Francisco. Combinations are very challenge and exhausting, but very well crafted to make us stronger, cleaner dancers. Each morning we have a 1.5 hour technique class from 9 to 10:30, and then an hour of pointe/variations from 11 to 12 pm. For the second hour, we have been learning the Aspicia Variation from Pharaoh’s Daughter and the Dulcinea from Don Quixote. These variations are the complete opposite style from one another, which is ideal. We all get the chance to work on a fast, petite-allegro variation with quick foot work and character port de bras AND a slow, adagio variation that requires control, lengthy arms and fluidity.
Our class also has the privilege of dancing to live music with a fantastic pianist! It’s such a treat to have gorgeous music that the teacher can start with one word: “пожалуйста”, or “you’re welcome”.
But one thing has been very difficult to adjust to: the raked floors. That stand really throws off our balances and makes pointe work difficult! Especially in menages, you have to literally climb up a hill. But, we’re all slowly getting used to it and learning to adapt is never a bad skill to have!
I’m enjoying every single day and am so grateful to be able to learn in such a historical rich place with such an incredible teacher with my beautiful friends!
Friday, February 23rd, 2018
Today was our last day of classes at Bolshoi! I’m so so sad to leave this place, and I’ll miss Ms. Antonicheva and the Academy itself very much. The parents who came on this trip attended an Observation Day and were allowed to take photos, so I’ll insert some here!
The students of City Ballet got to watch the Course One girls in their technique class, who are ages 15-16. This was also a really cool experience! Every single on of them had incredible facilities, arm placement, head coordination, and flexibility. I was inspired and depressed simultaneously! But seriously, they were all beautiful and the Russian training really does produce dancers like no other.
Since I last wrote, our group has also attended a few other tourist attractions. Our hotel is very close to Red Square in downtown Moscow, so we visited the Kremlin and St. Basil’s Cathedral a few times. There is also a Winter Festival going on this week, so we were able to walk through what was essentially a fair with rides, food stands, ice-skating, and plenty of Russian vendors selling souvenirs. The architecture in Moscow is breathtaking; all of the public buildings are extremely ornate and the Soviet style is truly gorgeous. We were also able to go on a bus tour that took us around the city. We visited one of the “Seven Sisters” at Moscow State University, Victory Park on Poklonnaya Hill, and Cathedral of Christ the Savior.
Sunday, February 25th, 2018
Today was our last day in Moscow…*sniffles*. On this trip, I’ve made more memories than I can Snapchat, Instagram, or even blog.
It has been an incredible privilege to study at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy with Ms. Antonicheva. Somehow, receiving corrections in a language I can’t understand really helped me! I cannot thank the Academy and my teacher, Galina Alexandrova, for giving us this opportunity. I know I will carry everything I absorbed this week with me for the rest of my ballet career.
The reverence and appreciation that people have for ballet here is unparalleled anywhere else in the world, and it was an eye-opening experience to witness that. Visiting the Bolshoi Theater was probably one of the most breathtaking moments on this trip, and having the privilege of attending performances in the Motherland of ballet is something I’ll always be grateful for.
And Moscow, beautiful Moscow! Everything I saw was gorgeous in every way, from buildings to street lights, and even the people. Visiting the historical sites I’ve read about in my history textbooks was incredible, and the architecture of the city was truly unforgettable. The city has a proud, unique flair and the people are open and kind in their own unique way.
So, to everyone who has supported me and made it possible for me to experience the magic of Russia, thank you! Especially to DanceWear Corner and Kathryn Morgan, without you, this wouldn’t have happened. I hope this blog provided a glimpse into how amazing this trip was. Best wishes to you all in your dance journeys! Spasibo! (That’s Russian for “Thank You!”)