The Bolshoi Ballet has always been hailed one of the best ballet companies in the world. Therefore, one could imagine my excitement when visiting Moscow, Russia, where the passion and seriousness of ballet equalled that of any sport valued in America. Also, I could barely contain my eagerness on flight to Moscow, for I knew that in a matter of hours, I’d be reunited with the dear friends of my graduating class from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Upon my arrival, I was thrilled to hear that during my two-week stay, a handful of my ex-classmates would compete in the Moscow International Ballet Competition. It was truly inspiring to see all the international talent on one of the world’s most beautiful stages. I also reunited with one of my mentors, Marina Alexandrova, and we worked privately everyday to retouch my technique. I learned so much from her, and just to see her and have her teach again brought me so much joy. Furthermore, I attended many performances, all different, all equally stunning. I had the privilege of watching the Bolshoi Ballet perform George Balanchine’s beloved ballet, Jewels, and another exceptional company, the Stanislavsky Theatre perform Jorma Elo’s 1st Flash, Jirí Kylián’s Seche Tanze. Petit Mort and Sleepless, and Marius Petipa’s Giselle. My passion for the art form multiplied during every minute of each performance. To be back in the city where I studied for a year and practically breathed ballet, and back in the country where my art form is not only valued but proudly admired was inexplicably inspiring. The Russians’ hunger for dance and perseverance for excellence sparked that much more motivation and drive that I knew needed to be reignited.
From there, I trained it through the alluring villages of Zurich, Switzerland and made my way to Dresden, Germany, where I visited the prominent Semperoper Ballett, that dominates the Theaterplatz on the river Elbe. The theater’s artistic director, Aaron S. Watkin visually sees his company as breaking boundaries between the classical and contemporary worlds of dance. From what I saw, he fully strives to accomplish his goal with constant nurturing and attention of his beautiful dancers, which is what every dancer hopes for in an artistic mentor.
I then journeyed to the lovely city of Hamburg, Germany where I visited John Neumeier’s company, the prestigious Hamburg Ballett. It so happened that I arrived in time for Neumeier’s 4- week gala, celebrating his 40th anniversary as artistic director and chief choreographer. The month-long gala, known as Hamburg Ballet-Days, is a series of myriad performances by the company, each program presenting a different work from their seasonal repertoire. It seemed almost impossible to think a ballet be revived with such a scarce amount of rehearsals, but nevertheless, Hamburg Ballett executed with aesthetic movement and clarity. Aside from taking company class with Hamburg Ballett’s exceptionally talented dancers, I was lucky enough to attend opening night of the gala, when they so brilliantly performed John Neumeier’s Shakespeare Dances: All the world’s a stage. The ballet consisted of numerous duets, each depicting William Shakespeare’s most prominent playwrights. The next night, Bayerische Staatsballett performed as a guest company in two very famous ballets, Jerome Robbin’s, Goldberg Variations, and world-class choreographer Jirí Kylián’s, Gods and Dogs. Both performances offered a unique perspective on today’s dance world, and how artists have evolved from the classics in search of something inexplicably daring and untraditional.
Dresden :: Hamburg, Germany
(the lovely and pleasant view on the EuRail train from Milan, Italy to Dresden, Germany)
I then travelled by train to Milan, Italy, home to another critically-acclaimed company, Teatro alla Scala. The theater itself possessed so much history, in which I had the opportunity to learn about in person. While in Italy, I also decided to take a day trip to Rome, where I visited another historic theatre, Teatro dell’Opera di Roma. When in Rome!
Milan :: Rome, Italy
"The world we live in is full of changes. We are inspired to explore the relativity between the presence of the artist within the reality of life. We hope you will join us on the creative voyage into our world where dance and its importance will be investigated." And what an incredible adventure it’s been. How surprisingly ironic it was for me to read this perfectly fitting excerpt on the first of many programs I watched abroad. Paul Lightfoot, Nederlands Dans Theater’s resident choreographer and reciter of this insightful quote, erased all worries and fears my mind concocted during the months leading up to my trip. He and his beautifully danced choreography simply spelled out my reasons for needing to explore the world of dance and reassured me that, in that moment, I was just where I needed to be.
Alongside tackling The Joffrey Ballet’s hectic schedule and its 22-city tour, I spent most of my work year planning a two-month summer trip to cities I felt were the most influential in the dance field. My first stop, the Netherlands, home to two of Europe’s most prominent companies, Het Nationale Ballet and Nederlands Dans Theater, became an excellent introductory choice, both artistically and culturally. I had the privilege of attending two superb performances and taking company class with both theaters. My first night in Europe, I took a train from Amsterdam to Den Haag to watch Paul Lightfoot and Sol León’s School of Thought, so brilliantly performed by the stunning dancers of NDT. The very intimate piece included a series of solos and duets that depicted the situations and struggles of every relationship, whether it being with someone else or with one’s self. The extremely innovated and powerfully moving performance ended with the company singing John Lennon’s Imagine. Despite my jet lag, I not once during the performance became fatigued, for I felt so involved and found myself dreaming my reality. I also watched Het Nationale in Rudi van Dantzig’s Romeo and Juliet, a technically strong and seemingly effortless performance. Both theaters so graciously welcomed me when taking company class. It was somewhat intimidating, however more so inspiring.