Annika Slaby Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive

My experience at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive

Annika Slaby Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive

This summer I attended the (Russian) Bolshoi Ballet Summer Intensive for six weeks in Connecticut. Were my eyes ever opened! From the number of amazing and talented dancers that attended from across the world, to the new techniques I learned from the all Russian-speaking teachers, I was impressed, amazed and thrilled to absorb every moment.

The program took place at The Westover School, a century-old boarding school for girls. Most of the kids stayed in the dorms, but some of us chose to be day students and stayed at a nearby hotel with our parents. Other days students lived in the area and stayed at home.

The First Three Weeks

I decided to go for two sessions totaling six weeks. The first three weeks of the camp were a ton of fun, lots of new friends, new challenges and new experiences.

Annika Slaby Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive after classThe first couple days were about blurrr, learning your new routines and meeting new people. Those days where also very stressful because you were put in one level and a person in the staff evaluates you and sees if you should stay in that level or go down or up. The first two days that I was in the top level it was very fun because we were doing things that were simple yet very challenging. The third day I was told that I was better off in a lower group. That day three of my other friends got moved down one level with me. I was very sad at the time, but a few days into it I had made friends in the new group and I had gotten better from that first week emotionally and physically. With me being a part of the six week program, I was able to do the partnering class. Each week we had two classes of partnering. We switched partners every week. We had a few boys from Russia who are around 16 to 17 years old. We also had some American boys who were also very good. At the end of the six-week camp, we will perform partnering combinations.

The second week was a mix of learning all of our new dances, mastering them and polishing them. Also getting our technique down for the final performance. It was very stressful to learn a bunch of new dances.

Lincoln Center with Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer IntensiveOn the weekend I was able to go to the Coppélia Ballet in New York City. Since I was staying with my mom at a hotel rather than staying in the dorms, I wasn’t allowed to do all the weekend activities that the residents got to do. I was excited when I found out my mom was allowed to chaperone so we could ride along with all my friends to the ballet.

When we arrived in NYC, it was a thrilling as I remember from my previous trips to NYC. (For two summers when I was 10 and 11 I attended the America Ballet Theater Summer Intensive in NYC) The ballet took place in Lincoln Center which was amazing. I had never been there before and it just oozed with the excitement of everything I love about ballet…performing in front of a huge audience and sharing my love of ballet!!

Meeting Robert FairchildWhen we arrived, we first went to the Juilliard café where we had lunch (and  later, dinner). I meet  two very famous dancers from the New York City ballet; Robert Fairchild and Ashley Bouder. My friends and I were ecstatic!

The third week was very exhilarating. We had to go to the stage where we were performing to learn the spacing of our dances. We had class on stage multiple times before the performance. It was fun also having three hour rehearsals and watching everyone else’s dances and having everyone watch you. This all allowed us to meet people from all the different levels.

The auditorium that we were in was very hot. It had no air conditioning. With a lot of people in there it made the days very long and tiring. Sometimes in the morning when you had class, they would open up the windows on top of the stage and had a very pretty light. On the last day of the session, our parents came to watch our dances and the class portion.

We first showed them our barrè, jumping turning and going into Pointe. After all those demonstrations, we had lunch with our parents and other friends. It was fun meeting all my friend’s parents. We had lunch for a long  time, so I was able to walk around with my mom and take pictures.

After lunch we went on to our dances with our class and performed repertoire with pointe shoes and character.

At the end of the day we said goodbye to the rest of our three-weeker friends. It was sad to see our friends leave. We all had formed great friendships that will last a lifetime. I am so happy that I still have three more weeks to improve.

Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive

The Last Three Weeks

The second session of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive was just as fun as the first session. There was a lot of new people for this three-week session and also a lot of remaining six-weekers. I had already made a lot of friends with the six-weekers, but I also made a ton of new friends from the new three-weekers. It was fun because we had the same schedule the second time around so I already knew where we are going and who my teacher was.

Every morning, my class would walk off-campus to a ballet studio. The walk was hilly so we always got a little work out before and after ballet class. I got to work early and my extension flexibility since I had the same teachers.

There seemed to be more extra day students this session so I had a lot of friends when I came back to the hotel. Every night I always iced my feet and had Shirley Temple. 🙂

I was not able to go to New York City with my friends to see the ballet Spartacus from Bolshoi Ballet, which really bummed me out. I really wanted to see the famous Svetlana Zakharova but there were no tickets available for day students.

After class at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive

By being a day student though, I was able to go different places on the weekend that residents couldn’t, so it all worked out. I wanted to go to Boston. It was my first time there and I loved it! It is so pretty there and the weather was perfect. We wondered around town, saw some famous historical sites like where the Boston Masacre took place, Paul Revere’s House and the Old North Church. We also rented bikes and rode all around the city. It was so much fun!

By the last week all my friends and I had realized we were never going to see each other again and that camp was almost over. We all made the best of the last few days by hugging it out at the end of our classes.

The last day was a ton of fun because the performance time. Everyone knew what to do and was excited to go home and see their parents but also sad to leave all the teachers. I was excited to go home and sleep in my own bed too but I was also very sad my training was over. I’m excited to go to another intensive next year, but if I could go to Bolshoi Ballet Summer Intensive in Connecticut again I would.

Bolshoi Ballet Partners with America with Summer Ballet Intensive

Russia and America unite! The Bolshoi Ballet Academy summers in America, bringing their classical training to the world.


Learn More About The Bolshoi

Check out an article I wrote for The Bunk Room, a magazine written entirely by kids: Russian Bolshoi Partners With America.

About The Author

Annika Valentine

I am a teenager with a career that starts now. I'm working my way through the twists and twirls of the ballet world, with my violin by my side. Catch up with me on social media. Facebook, Instagram, YoutTube @annikavalentine. Twitter @loveannikaxoxo

  • http://Website Arlyn

    hi this is Arlyn and i really loved this story! it was great hearing about your summer intensive and it makes me so much more excited for my summer intensive in June.

    • valentinedreamer

      Hi Arlyn…great to hear! Where are you planning to go this year?