Due to the pandemic, graduates of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy are forced to finish their study on-line. We won’t have a chance to see their state exams and the traditional concert in the Bolshoi Theatre. All of them passed a long 8-year way towards their goals, but today they have to isolate themselves and wait. So we’ve decided it’s necessary to support the young dancers and tell about the best graduates of the Academy. From La Personne pages our heroes told us how to learn and train in the lockdown, how to keep the shape, not to lose heart and shared with us their dreams. Specially for the project we made on-line shootings with the dancer via Zoom and Clos App.
Meet Polina Gasimova.
“Of course, studying at the Academy tempered my character, taught me to fight for my dream and not to lose my heart. But at first Academy gave me skills and as we say the style“
My story began with the rhythmic gymnastics. Being 5 years old I asked my mother to take me to the rhythmic gymnastics group. Probably I was an ambitious child, as I set a goal to become like Alina Kabaeva. After 4 years of practicing gymnastics, I realized that choreography is closer to me. My family was connected with art and my mother proposed me to do ballet. I entered the preparatory department of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy to the magnificent teacher, the dancer with the Bolshoi Theatre, Elena Akhulkova. And I still remember her lessons with warmth and gratitude, that’s she who has instilled in me love for ballet. Elena was unbelievably beautiful, intelligent and she told us a lot about expressiveness and musicality. Despite we were very young she told us about the importance of filling the dance with emotions. I remember, we’ve learned Russian dance, and we have to make four simple steps forward, but Elena Viktorovna asked us to imagine that we are coming to the wide field where the grass is covered by dews and the sun is rising. I imagined this picture so colourfully and performed these simple four steps with absolutely different feeling. It’s a great luck to get to such a teacher in childhood.
It may sound trivial, but I can say that the ballet is my life. I felt it deeper in the quarantine conditions. When I decided to do ballet, it wasn’t beautiful costumes, tiaras and tutus to attract me, I simply liked dancing and listening to classical music.
With every year I begin to love ballet more and more, in spite of all the complexities. I really get the great pleasure when I take a very hard variation and start to work at every movement, to overcome the technical difficulties.
After a long rehearsal process, going onstage is a huge happiness and like an award for the work you’ve done.
Entering the Academy wasn’t easy and cloudless but this situation has tempered my character and my will power for all my life ahead. I passed three tours but didn’t find myself among those who are admitted. It was a real tragedy for me. I packed all my ballet kits and gave it to my mother telling – “Mummy, throw all this away, I won’t need it anymore!” And my wise mum answered – “Ok I’ll do it tomorrow”. Of course, I still cherished a dream to enter the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. For the years of preparation, I was so imbued with the atmosphere of the school and I loved it very much. Some days after a thought came to my head – to write to my favourite ballerina Diana Vishneva. I found her web-site, entered the question page, told my story and asked her advice. It was a big astonishment that such a star ballerina answered me! Diana Viktorovna told that she entered the Academy not from the first attempt and advised me to work harder and don’t give up. I am very grateful to Diana Vishneva because that was her answer that inspired me and gave me forces to move on. For the whole summer I trained two times a day, I practiced different stretching and exercises for developing ballet abilities. I grew up a little and my proportions looked better.
In the end of August we saw an announcement about the additional admission to the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and decided to take a chance. We didn’t count on anything, but a result came as a pleasant surprise – I was admitted!
As I told earlier it was my dream. I would like to mark that there are high requirements for the entrants and a very high competition because of that. I suppose it to be a very big motivation for students. To study at the Academy is hard and responsible, but all the conditions are made for us: wonderful exacting teachers, the studios with the huge windows, a big stage of the Academy theatre, various repertoire, costumes and creative atmosphere. While studying we had chances to perform at the Bolshoi Theatre, Stanislavsky Music Theatre and Kremlin Palace. I miss the Academy very much, because it has become my second home.
Of course, studying at the Academy tempered my character, taught me to fight for my dream and not to lose my heart. But at first Academy gave me skills and as we say the style. Many thanks to our teachers for their attention, patience and work.
In middle school my teacher was Maya Ivanova. I am very grateful to her. She believed in me and worked a lot with me. Since first grade our group was led by Irina Pyatkina who always gave us creative freedom and supported our initiatives. Owing to Anna Antropova I loved even more the national character dance, our lessons always went in a very creative and friendly atmosphere.
Ilya Ryzhakov gave us the basics of the duet dance and the proper behavior with a partner.
Probably, my biggest fear is not to implement myself in my profession.
I consider that family plays the most important part in a person’s life regardless the profession. I have grown up in the creative atmosphere, because my parents are musicians.
In my case, I wouldn’t do anything without my parents’ support. Their faith in my forces always helps me. I am a very demanding person and I am inclined to self-examination. While studying, there were moments when I totally lost belief in myself and thought, I wasn’t capable of anything. In these very moments my mother was able to find proper words. And the most important that she was always honest with me. It happens that after dancing a variation I write to my mother immediately to know her opinion. If it wasn’t one hundred percent she always tells it fairly. I know that many parents tell their children they are the best and simply underestimated. I consider it to be a big fault which often prevents a child to reach a high result.
The quarantine has changed our life a lot but gave many interesting opportunities.
In the first days I had a feeling of frustration and even desperation. I’ve realized that many important events to which we’ve been preparing are cancelled. With sadness I re-watched the videos from the rehearsals, performances and tours. But later I decided I have urgently to take control. My parents bought me a piece of linoleum, carried out the furniture, put a big mirror and I begun my trainings with joy. Owing to this I reached the emotional balance again. Of course, every uncertainty is hard to carry, but today the whole world is in the same situation and for many people it is even worse than for me. I try to look into future with optimism and faith for better. It seems to me when the pandemic is over and we all come back to normal life, many people will change their worldview, we’ll start to appreciate life and find happiness in simple moments.
My day always begins approximately at 6 o’clock in the morning. The morning hours are very precious for me, every day I meet the dawn and enjoy calm atmosphere. After that I stretch and prepare for a ballet class. In isolation conditions all our group gathers in Zoom and trains on-line. It helps gather yourself, because at home it is harder to do classical lessons. We do all possible to keep the form for maximum and not to relax. In my free time I watch lots of performances and streams with creative people. Now we have a unique opportunity to see the Bolshoi Ballet shows with the outstanding dancers. The biggest impression on me made Spartacus, The Bright Stream and Don Quixote. With a huge interest I watched the genius performance by Boris Eifman Beyond Sin based on The Brothers Karamazov.
In the evenings I always pay attention to strengthening the muscles and developing the physical form.
Sometimes I do lessons with YouTube videos and I’ve liked very much a class by Mariinsky Theatre teacher Nikita Scheglov and the lessons by outstanding artist Vladimir Malakhov, also I trained with Tamara Rojo and Maria Khoreva.
Besides all it, there was an opportunity to train in Zoom with Bolshoi Ballet dancers and our graduates Liza Kokoreva and Igor Gorelkin. They showed effective exercises for all the muscle groups.
The main dream is to be a happy person and for this I need to implement myself in profession I love.