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I’ve started conducting Q&A with Vaganova Ballet Academy students for my ballet blog. It’s something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time, and I’d like to thank Alisa for agreeing to answer my questions and being my first ever interviewee!
Alisa is an international trainee at Vaganova Ballet Academy. You can follow her on Facebook and Instagram. If you are interested in joining VBA’s international trainee program and have questions, Alisa will be happy to help you. You can send her a message on Instagram or get in touch via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Where are you from?
I was born on July 17, 2000 in Veliko Tărnovo, Bulgaria. At the age of 6 we moved with my mom to Brussels.
What grade are you in at VBA?
I’m in First Course (grade six).
When did you start dancing?
I started dancing when I was 5 years old back in Bulgaria.
When did you decide to become a professional dancer?
I knew from my first ballet class that I wanted to do this for the rest of my life!
What’s your favourite ballet?
I love a lot of ballets, but La Bayadere is for sure one of my favourites.
Who’s your favourite dancer?
My favourite dancer is Diana Vishneva because she brings a lot of emotion to her performances. She always tells a story through her movements.
What’s your favourite role / a role you’d love to dance?
At this moment, I would love to perform Grand Pas Classique.
Name 3 songs you love and listen to on repeat.
Sunset by Compuphonic, Man o To by Nu, By Your Side by Sade.
Name a book you love and would recommend to everyone.
I love the book by Don Miguel Ruiz: The Mastery of Love. I can read it over and over.
What advice would you give to a child who’s aspiring to be a pro ballet dancer?
I would tell them to follow their dreams and to believe in themselves!
How did you get into VBA? What was your audition like (if you had one)?
I first sent a video when I was 14 years old, they told me that they would like to see me in person, so I went to St. Petersburg for a live audition. They first told me no because of my young age. Normally, international students can only begin their training at VBA as of 16. But I told them I was ready at the age of 14 to move to Russia and make my dreams come true! The next day they contacted my mom and said I could come this year. I couldn’t believe it! I was the happiest girl in the world!
What’s the toughest thing about studying at VBA?
The toughest thing for me was the strict discipline. And the cold weather, of course.
Are Russian ballet teachers as scary as the legends paint them?
No, they’re not scary. They’re just strict because they want to bring the best out of their students.
Do you have a favourite teacher?
This year I was very lucky to come in the class of Veronika Ivanova. She taught me a lot of stuff in 1 year. I’m very happy I got to work with her! I also had repertoire classes with the great Yulia Makhalina. They both have this great energy and personality that they give to the class!
What’s your proudest / happiest VBA moment so far?
My happiest moment was of course to dance at the Mariinsky Theatre! And also to perform my own choreography at the Hermitage Theatre.
What’s it like living and training in Russia as a foreigner?
It’s of course different for us because we’re foreigners. It takes a while for them to know you. That’s why I went to every single rehearsal even if I wasn’t on the list, just so that they see that I know the steps and I’m ready to dance!
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to study at VBA?
It’s going to be hard in the beginning! You will have to work a lot, a lot for the teachers to pay attention to you! And go to every rehearsal and know every dance so that they see that you really want it and that you are always ready to dance!
What’s next for you? Are you returning to VBA in September?
I still don’t know if I will return! It is quite expensive for us foreigners to study there. I have this great opportunity to study in Munich Germany. So I’m still thinking.
Photographs used in this post were taken by Vadim Stein and Irina Mattioli and are available on Alisa’s Insta.