Hey :) I’m not sure exactly how old you are so forgive me if i’m wrong but I swear you said you were 19 before? Anyways my question is what you hope to do as in you’re currently at the school, and the what if that makes sense? I’ve always thought that if you want to be prof. you should be in a company your late teens/early twenties? What are you currently doing at the school- are you working towards exams etc? many thanks and I wish you the best of luck! sorry if my questions are weird haha <3

What I hope to do is join a theater and be a professional ballerina, which is the reason I am here 🙂

It’s probably most common to start working during late teens/early twenties but it’s not the case for everyone and certain people start working earlier or later. 

What am I working on currently? In the short term I am preparing for a Historical Dance exam in December, and then the rest of my exams at the end of the school year in June. It’s exciting, my class is already starting to pick out different fabrics and colors and styles for what we want our exam dress to look like! We will have them designed for us 🙂

Hey Noa, I love your honesty, but a word of warning… Be careful on the internet. How would you feel if your classmates saw your comments about finding them distant etc? Or teachers, or potential employers? Perhaps some stuff should stay in a private journal rather than a public blog. I love reading your stories but feel a bit concerned you might be giving too much away sometimes.

Thank you for your concern, and I will take what you said into account, although can assure you I am very careful and particular with what I choose to share and what I choose to keep to my private journal (yes, I do have one). My classmates don’t know English, but even if they were to read what I wrote about them I would not feel as if I had done something wrong. I am being truthful. In my opinion, if someone doesn’t want to read something bad about themselves or hear something bad about themselves, then the best way to make sure that doesn’t happen is not to act badly in the first place. Otherwise, they kind of open themselves up for criticism and complaints! 

Do you have a best friend/closest friend at the academy? What is he/she like? :)

There are two girls here, also foreign students, that are my closes friends out of everyone here. One of them is injured and will be going back home on Wednesday, so that’s sad 😦

What are they like? Haha, I don’t know, they’re friendly, nice, funny…! When we hang out it’s mostly together and we often go out to a coffee shop or a restaurant when we want to get out of the school a little bit. Sometimes we go to meals together if they fall on our schedules at the same time. I mean, just the same as any other good group of friends! 

The three of us get along great, so I guess that must mean we’re all alike in some way or another! 

Have you made any friends at the academy?

Yes, of course! Sadly one of my best friends here is leaving on Wednesday due to an injury 😦

Yes, some girls are unfriendly, but they’re in the minority 😉 I wish I had more opportunity to spend time with the girls in my class, though. I only get to see most of them during class and I think I could make still more friends if we actually had the chance to spend time together! 

Thank you very much for writing this blog and demystifying a little Russian ballet schools, I think it’s very interesting. It seems like you have a great positive personnality and entering the school is already quite an achievement, I wish you lots of success ! & keep us informed of your progresses

Thank you very much! I enjoy keeping this blog, and all of the encouragement I am getting in return from you and others is really amazing and gives me even more will to do my best here and shoot for the moon!

I can’t respond to your arabesque story, so I do it here. 1/ The link of the photo doesn’t work for me. Maybe you can change it? 2/ Opening the hip does NOT prevent injuries, because it causes an ‘unwishable’ twist in the lower back. The spine can handle a bit of twisting, but there is also ‘too much’. The sooner the twist starts when raising the leg, the more twist there will be when the leg is high. The later the twist starts, when raising the leg, the better/saver it is for the spine.

Hello! I’ll check the link to the picture and see what I can do to fix it!

As far as what you wrote about opening the hip – yep, I agree 100%! Perhaps you misread what I wrote because you essentially said exactly what I had already written 😉

If I can get the picture to work for you, you will see that the twist you and I both agree is unfavorable is exemplified very clearly on the girl!

Arabesque Philosophy – my take on the interesting discussion brought to my attention by one of my readers

 ”Some teachers claim that you can only do a proper arabesque or attitude when you open your hip to the side (like in this picture while others insist you have to keep your hips horizontal as your shoulders and some even say it’s not good for you to open the hip because it might cause damage to your back. I wondered what your teachers say about this.”

I have not asked my teachers for their opinion on this matter; however, all of my teachers have studied and now teach according to the Vaganova syllabus, which does take a stance on this. 

Vaganova technique is based on human physiology, such that every position or movement is physiologically efficient, desirable, and safe. When done correctly, an individual should theoretically stay injury-free, save for the weird mishaps that are not related to the way in which a movement was executed and that can’t very well be prevented (slipping on the floor, etc.)

And according to the method, a ‘textbook’ arabesque would be done with squared off hips and shoulders; there are exceptions on stage, when performing certain choreography or in order to emulate a certain stylistic or artistic quality. Until 45 degrees, the hips should stay absolutely square; it is not possible for the human body to keep the hips exactly square when the leg goes higher, and in this case the hips must open just enough to allow the leg to rise. However, the hips do not open ‘with the purpose’. I mean to say that they open because they have to, and only as much as they have to, and not any more than that.

So, most certainly, we are taught to keep our hips square. No opening the hips! It is the most physiologically-sound way of positioning the body and gives the most aesthetically pleasing line.

There is an important point that I don’t often see mentioned in these discussions. The Vaganova method is based on physiology, but it is worth noting that in all the schools here in Russia (the only place in the world a person can actually get full, real Vaganova training, since it is based around the methodical syllabus year by year being taught by pedagogues that have actually studied how to teach Vaganova technique), the students are hand-picked to already have the most ideal body for ballet that will be able to execute all of the movements correctly. 

That said, I still stand by the Vaganova syllabus’ stance on this issue. It is my opinion that if a person cannot do a technically correct arabesque at 90 degrees (meaning, they open their hips more than the minimal amount needed, as the girl in the picture does) – then they should not be working at that height. 

As far as the idea that opening the hips prevents injury…all I can say is that anything that takes you further out of alignment is most likely not better for your body. And aesthetically, I don’t think it looks very nice. Don’t forget that every part of your body is, after all, connected. Open your hips and your shoulders start to open, one hip is higher than the other which results in the spine being twisted, the spine being twisted can influence the alignment of the shoulders and the neck, and there’s a fair chance that the dancers weight will be too far behind her on top of all of that. In fact, the girl in the picture is an excellent example of this! That looks painful where she is crunching her back, if I might say so myself! 🙂

My suggestion? We need to start researching and conducting studies if we want an answer that is supported by evidence. I will hypothesize that the square-hips positioning would by far be the better way to execute an arabesque. But if we want proof – and I’m one to want proof – then we need to actually find it. 

hello! a question from a chef, dancer, writer! :) i am very curious about the Russian cuisine at the ballet school. do you mind giving me some insight into that? is it tasty? similar to another type of cultural cuisine? any repetitive ingredients? pros and cons? just any info you have, really, would be awesome! ^_^ good luck with your studies, by the way! :)

Hi! What an interesting personality you are! Chef, dancer, and writer…are you a male and single by any chance? Haha, only kidding! 

The Russian cuisine is certainly different from what foreigners coming into the school are used to, and although many of the foreigners are therefore not too keen on it, I actually like it very much. To answer your questions:

  1. Is it tasty? I think so, yes! But like I said, many of the other foreigners (especially the Japanese girls) prefer to buy and cook their own food (and it still never ceases to amaze me how much they are capable of cooking with the limited equipment we have at the dorms – a microwave, a rice cooker, and some other thing that I have not bother to check what it even is, haha!) All of the food we get is very good quality, and every day the menu as well as every piece of food is checked and signed off on by both the school’s dietitian and the director of the school. I don’t know if that’s common practice in schools (or boarding schools) in Russia or if they are just extra careful with our health because of our profession. 
  2. Similar to another type of cultural cuisine? I can’t give an entirely comprehensive answer because I’m not familiar with all cultural cuisines, of course! But many of the stuff we are given is similar to foods I am used to from home; this makes sense because Israeli cuisine is heavily influenced by Russian cuisine (as well as other cuisines – Mediterranean and Arab cuisines, I think), and maybe this is why I like it more than the other foreigners. All the food is “home” type of food – not junk like the pizza, chicken fingers, and whatever else it is they serve in most US schools. Some of the food is very similar to Polish foods that I know from what my grandmother used to make (or some of it is even the same food but by a different name), and while I don’t know much about other Eastern European cuisines, I would think they would all be very similar. Here in Perm, there seems to also be some Asian influence (we are situated right on the border between European Russia and Asian Russia). 
  3. Any repetitive ingredients? Yes! Grains are a big staple and they are served very often as kasha (porridge) at breakfast or as one of the items with lunch or dinner. They rotate between buckwheat (which has become a favorite of mine, although I didn’t like it at all before coming here!), rice, barley, oats, so on and so forth. If a grain is not being served then there are potatoes – usually mashed. Sometimes we get macaroni which they cook plain in butter. They seem to add butter to everything! There is bread at every meal. Breakfast consists of a hot drink (tea with milk, some type of coffee drink with milk, chocolate milk, or hot chocolate), ‘buterbrod’ which is a piece of bread with butter and either cheese or meat, and some type of main course which is either kasha, zapekanka with sweetened condensed milk (zapekanka is like a baked ‘casserole’ or ‘cheesecake’ type dish made out of tvorog), or omelet. Sometimes they give us a candy with breakfast as well – ‘syrok’ (a bar of tvorog with flavor and coated in chocolate) or ‘super kontik’ (some chocolate and hazelnut cookie sandwich w/ chocolate) or something else of the sort. Lunch and dinner…there is usually a salad which can be something like grated carrots and crushed walnuts, or cabbage, carrots, and corn, or beetroot, or something I believe is called “Peasant” salad which has all kind of stuff (beetroot, potatoes, pickles…and more stuff that I can’t remember!) There is always soup, sometimes there is braised cabbage. A grain/potato/macaroni as I mentioned before. And some main dish of meat – can be fish (which they cook with cheese on top), ‘kotlety’ (meat patties), stuffed cabbage/peppers, “Ezhiki” meatballs which are like kotlety but with rice mixed in to them, chicken, gulash, so on and so forth. With dinner we also always get a piece of fruit (usually apple, pear, or banana). In between lunch and dinner there is a meal called Poldnik, which is a snack meal, and usually it is some type of baked good or pastry (this is a pretty big staple here) and a box of juice or boiled milk. We get second dinner which varies between a chocolate milk drink, Aktual (a juice and whey drink), kefir tema, yogurt, or drinking yogurt. So, as you can see, there are definitely staple foods. A lot of the foods they eat, like potatoes and beetroot, are foods that can stand the winter temperatures and climate. 
  4. Pros and cons? Pros: it’s real, good quality food that they make then and there; it’s calculated and checked by the dietitian so I know I am getting proper nutrition and it makes it easy to eat the right amount for me despite that the food is rather rich in fat; it’s tasty, to me; it’s really neat to try new foods!
    Cons: I don’t think there are many, if at all! One of the things I wonder about is whether the winter weather will bring with it a lower availability of fresh fruits and vegetables – I know it does, but I wonder how it influences the school (from what I understood, they are somehow able to get access to foods that people can’t just find in the store in the middle of winter); the food is rather calorie-dense (an average day’s menu adds up to roughly 4,000 calories), but I don’t see this as a disadvantage because it’s also nutrient-dense, and I actually like it because I am able to eat more variety as long as I watch my portions; and I suppose that the foreigners who don’t like the food would say that a definite downside is that is doesn’t taste good, but I don’t have that problem and so I certainly can’t say anything negative about that! 
Thank you for wishing me luck 🙂
I hope this helped and gave you a pretty well-rounded idea of what the food is like here. Long post, I gave you many details, haha 🙂
I can give you some pictures of the food here, but I will have to do it by email. If you would like, you can send me your email address by sending a Mail here or the same way you asked this question (of course I will delete the ‘question’ instead of ‘answering’ it).