5 foreigners who became ballet stars in Russia

Opera theater

Tatar State Academic Opera and Ballet Theater

Young dancers from other countries frequently come to study at prestigious Russian ballet schools, but some subsequently stay and have become principal performers in Russian theater companies, and not only in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

1. Mai Nagahisa, Japan

May Nagahisa was recently promoted to Principal Soloist at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. In the hierarchy of ballet, it is only one step from the top: the title of principal. For a dancer of one of the greatest theaters in the world, it is a meteoric rise. Nagahisa made her Mariinsky debut at the age of 15, which is extremely rare and essentially unprecedented for a foreigner. At the time, May was a student at the famous Princess Grace Academy of Monaco, where she had landed a place thanks to the Youth America Grand Prix competition. It was almost as if fate itself drove her to Jean-Christophe Maillot’s famous Monte Carlo ballet, but Maillot recognized that Nagahisa’s potential in classical ballet was much greater and broader than what was required. for her productions and released her into the big world.

At the age of 17, she moved to St. Petersburg despite all eyes on her in ballet stages in Europe, America and Japan. May began to dance small solos, and her Love in Don Quixote and Butterfly in Carnival were discussed with the kind of breathless enthusiasm that would normally be reserved for lead roles. And don’t be fooled by Nagahisa’s delicate appearance, who belies a solid and refined technique that allows her to transform into a wide variety of roles, including jubilant Masha in The Nutcracker as she stands at the threshold of adulthood, the tragic Giselle as she is dying due to the betrayal of her lover and Princess Shyrin, the heroine of The Legend of Love.

2. Bulgan Rentsendorj, Mongolia

A new generation of ballet dancers have moved straight from their final exams to ballet school to conduct three-act ballet pieces. Bulgan Rentsendorj was perfectly prepared for this. She had already triumphed at Arabesque, one of the most demanding international ballet competitions. Competing against experienced soloists, Bulgan, who was still in a ballet school at the time, won second place. Arabesque is set in Perm, a city that has been training ballet dancers for Mongolian theaters since the 1960s. Rentsendorj had been there for eight years and was preparing to return home after graduation when offered a place at the theater in Perm, which was then going through a generational change. She danced Odette-Odile at Swan Lake during her first month at the theater, and her performance was such a success that other roles followed. In her first season Bulgan mastered half of the repertoire and entered her second season in the theater as a principal dancer. On the opening night of La Bayadère, she danced with Maria Alexandrova, one of the most virtuoso and charismatic ballerinas of the Bolshoi Theater. Although the season was disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic, it was not quite a wasted year for Rentsendorj as the Perm Theater aired its main classic productions online with his participation.

3. Tomoha Terada, Japan

Terada is a Japanese dancer who arrived in the Urals seven years ago. The only thing he knew about Ekaterinburg at the time was that it had a ballet company that was based in a historic building and had a first-class repertoire. A graduate of the Kirov Ballet Academy, known in part for bringing Russian ballet traditions to America, Terada never imagined he would find life in the Urals capital more comfortable than in Washington or in native Osaka. Establishing itself in a large theater company with its own traditions was not easy, but over time Tomoha, who is short and quick, has built a reputation as the troupe’s chief virtuoso. That status solidified when he won a gold medal at the prestigious Arabesque International Ballet Competition in Perm. The light-footed dancer elicited an ecstatic reaction from audiences with his zesty hopak performance in the Ostap variation of the Soviet ballet Taras Bulba.

4. Amanda Gomes, Brazil

Gomes, who performs at the Tatar Opera and Ballet Theater, was born thousands of miles from all ballet theaters. But when she was growing up, a branch of the Bolshoi Theater School opened in her native Brazil. She was admitted there and studied the program of Russian ballet schools under the direction of Galina Kravchenko, former soloist of the Bolshoi. Kravchenko put her in touch with the administration of the Kazan Tatar Opera and Ballet Theater, where she rose through all the ranks of the theatrical hierarchy with her powerful and characteristic dance style. She then won a gold medal in a famous international competition at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow, confirming her status as a principal dancer. Several years ago, Gomes gained national fame in Russia when she appeared on a popular talented TV show, Big Ballet, where from round to round she wowed audiences with performances as as Princess Aurora, the heroic Laurencia and the heroine of a Tatar fairy. tale.

5. Marcello Pelizzoni, Italy

This Italian dancer from East Siberia has become a household name among ballet fans for his performance on last season of the Big Ballet Talent TV show. His duet with Anna Fedosova was a favorite among the audience, who were delighted by the image that the tall and handsome prince cut next to his delicate and touching partner. Marcello, born in Parma, came to Siberia after studying for four years at the Moscow Academy of Choreography. He decided to join the Krasnoyarsk State Opera and Ballet Theater and achieved what all graduates dream of: frequent performances, personal tutors and international tours every year. Thanks to his training in Moscow, he didn’t have to spend years in the corps de ballet, and in his third season in the theater, Marcello had all the “dream roles” in his repertoire: Albrecht in Giselle, les princes in all of Tchaikovsky’s ballets (Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker), Romeo, the Prince in Cinderella and José in Carmen-Suite. Her future plans include a brand new production of Catarina or the Bandit’s Daughter, a forgotten hit from the Romantic era.

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