A fabulous weekend with Mykhailo Shcherbakov!

On October 6th, 2019, Mykahilo Scherbakov, Soloist with Moscow Ballet, held a master class at Ballet Academy of Charleston for intermediate to advanced adults and teenagers.

Mr. Shcherbakov was in Charleston to direct an audition for Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker” to be performed at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center on December 21st, 2019 (at 3 p.m. and 7 p.m.).

Mykhailo was born in Pugachov, Russia and moved to Kiev at just ten years old to start studying ballet at the Kiev Choreographic College. While in school, he participated in many ballet competitions, including the famous Serge Lifar International Ballet Competition and the International Ballet Competition and Contest of Choreographers in Moscow. In 2008, Mykhailo was invited to join the Kiev Municipal Academic Theater of Opera and Ballet for Children and Youth. A year later he became a Principal Dancer at the theater and has participated in every performance since he started working there.

He began studying at National Pedagogical Dragomanov University in 2010 and graduated in just two years with a degree in teaching. Mykhailo has traveled all over the world performing with a few ballet companies. He has performed in multiple countries including Japan, South Korea, Germany, Italy, Spain, Norway, Finland, Denmark, and France. Mykhailo joined Moscow Ballet in 2016 and performs in the Great Russian Nutcracker as Brother Fritz, the French Variation, and the Nutcracker Doll.

We greatly appreciate Mr. Shcerbakov’s contribution to our school and traveling all this way to set the student’s choreography for “The Great Russian Nutcracker”!

How to Prepare for an Audition

It’s audition time! How can you be sure you are prepared, both mentally and physically to meet the challenge?

Consider a few tips outlined below:

  1. Get adequate rest.  If possible, in the weeks leading up the audition, but most especially the night before, be sure you’re getting a full night’s rest.  For some suggestions on how to acheive this, read this list from healthline.com.
  2. Eat well. You want to be sure you have enough energy to perform your best but that you haven’t eaten to such a point that you become lethargic. Be sure to eat a breakfast chock full of good fats, proteins and carbohydrates. If the audition is later in the day, make time for a healthful lunch as well. You want to give your muscles plenty of fuel!. Also, allow time to digest the meal fully, perhaps eating about an hour before your audition. For a snack, bring something light such as trail mix or a protein bar. Preferably those that mostly contain only natural sugars and are high in protein. Pointe Magazine has some helpful suggestions for a good audition day diet.
  3. Stay hydrated.Be sure that you remain well hydrated in the days and weeks leading up to the audition since dehydration can lead to fatigue and malaise. It will also prevent you from overdrinking just before the audition because nervousness can make your mouth dry, especially when you are dehydrated. Of course, you should drink sufficient water the day of the audition. Just be sure that you taper it off during the hour or so leading up to the audition. 
  4. Be informed. Knowing your audition company, their preferred technique and performance style, can go a long way in getting you noticed. If you can find the choreography you know they might use in the audition (especially if there is a particular role you are interested in), learn it and practice it beforehand. Then, if and when it comes up in the audition, you will be prepared to perform it well. At the very least you will feel prepared, which will increase your confidence when you walk in the door.
  5. Be neat and neutrally dressed.  While your attire doesn’t have to be new, you want to ensure it’s in good condition (e.g. no holes or stains). Wear neutral, solid colors such as black or navy blue. Typical attire for girls in a ballet audition is pink shoes, tights and a simple, black leotard, with hair in a tidy bun. And for boys, black tights, shoes and a white t-shirt, with hair neatly quaffed. It’s your dancing and demeanor that should stand out in an audition; not your outfit. I once went to an SAB (School of American Ballet) audition wearing a red ribbon in my hair (at the suggestion of my teacher) and a white, skirted leotard. I still cringe when I think of it. Oh, boy did I stand out! But for all the wrong reasons. Learn from my mistake.
  6. Get there early and be prepared. Pack your dance bag with all the necessary things you’ll need as well as a few extra (e.g. bobby bins, sewing kit or tights). Lay out the clothes you intend to wear the night before and make a list of everything you need if necessary. Be sure to arrive at the studio early. Even if you have to wait outside the studio before the doors open, it is better to arrive too early than to be rushing to get there and be stressed by the time you arrive. As soon as you can, begin warming up and stretching before the audition begins, even if the audition includes a warm-up. Remember, you want to be ready for anything!
  • Think positively. Dwelling on potential mishaps and the disappointment you might feel if you don’t get the part you want is counterproductive and a waste of mental energy. Yes, an audition is a lot like a test in that you will be evaluated by how you perform on that day. However, it is also like a test in this way: Once you have walked into an audition, you have done all the preparing you could. There’s nothing more to do but focus, be in the moment, and ENJOY it. Why do you dance? Because it makes you happy, right? So, just think of the audition as yet another opportunity to do what you love, enjoy the experience and let go of pointless anxiety. Easier said than done of course. If simply willing the worries of your mind away isn’t working for you, try this…
  • 7. Think “negatively”.You may be wondering how on earth that could be productive so let me explain:  Some of the auditions where I performed my best were those where I stopped worrying and just let myself enjoy the process. I would tell myself, “What happens now doesn’t matter. I don’t care if I get the part. In fact, I’m NOT going to get the part.” What it did was relieve the pressure. Because I had told myself that what I did didn’t matter, I was actually able to focus better and shut off the negative voice inside my head which might have prevented me from dancing well. Every time I did this in an audition, I not only performed well and got the attention of the audition holders, but I ended up with a part better than what I expected. So, give it a try! Tell yourself, “It doesn’t matter” (because in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t) and dance your heart out! 

During the Audition:

  1. Be focused
  2. Be quiet
  3. Be polite
  4. Enjoy the process!
  5. Smile!

After the audition..

  1. Be Happy! Whew! You made it! However you may feel about how the audition went, remember that you were brave enough to do it! Auditioning is a very nerve-wracking process, so you should feel good about what you have accomplished. Bear in mind, that whatever you perceive as not having gone well, whether true or not, there is nothing more that you can do at this point. 
  2. When you don’t get the part…True, it is disheartening not to get the part you wanted, but what’s done is done and it has no bearing on your overall worth. And whatever part you get, no matter how “insignificant” it seems, put your ALL into it and have fun! I have many times danced parts or choreography that I didn’t particularly love. When I put my heart and soul into it and said, “Ok well this is what I got. I will make the best of it,” I ended up enjoying myself and experiencing a sense of accomplishment I never would have had I griped about the part or quit altogether. And if you wish to pursue dance as a profession, understand that you will rarely, if ever, have a say in which part you receive and will often face disappointments and setbacks. Look at this as practice for the future. Accept roles with maturity and a sense of professionalism. Learn from “failure” and improve. This sort of tenacity will serve you well, whatever you pursue. 
  3. There’s always next time. Remember that in the majority of cases, there is always a next time! You now have experience over which you can reflect during the intervening time which you can use to improve in an area of weakness that may have become apparent. 
  4. Relax and do something fun. Plan to have a meal with family and friends or plan an activity to which you can look forward and take your mind off of the audition. Think of it as a celebration, no matter what happened at the audition. Remember: You have just done something most people find very stressful and some wouldn’t dare try! So, be proud of your accomplishment and treat it with the celebration it deserves.
    5. It will get easier. Remember, that the more often you participate in an audition, the easier it will become.  Even if your goal is not to become a professional dancer, this type of experience will help you in life, whether it be a job interview or a presentation at work. 
    6. Be a Happy Dancer! Whatever happens, enjoy yourself, apply the lessons you learn, whether from a good or bad experience, and move on and be happy!

Audiences Were Dazzled

This past Sunday, some 70 local students from various schools including Ballet Academy, were privileged to perform with The Moscow Ballet in “The Great Russian Nutcracker”. 

Audiences were dazzled by this spectacular showpiece performed twice on Sunday at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center.

 This singular take on the classic tale includes unique characters and aspects such as “The Dove of Peace” (a striking, feather-winged acrobatic duo gliding across the stage with angelic-like poise)  and a large matryoshka (Russian nesting doll) gracing the stage.  These cultural and visionary additions, however, did not overshadow the traditional aspects and feel-good nature of this beloved ballet classic. This tasteful combination of new and old left audiences awestruck and full of all the “warm fuzzies” that accompany watching a performance of the “Nutcracker”.

A big “Thank You” and congratulations to all of our students and parents who participated in this rare and memorable event!  And great thanks goes to the Moscow Ballet for providing this unique opportunity to local students.  We are eagerly anticipating next years’ performance!

Moscow Ballet’s Great Russian Nutcracker

Last month, for the fourth consecutive year, Ballet Academy hosted an open audition for the Moscow Ballet’s “Great Russian Nutcracker”!

Ballet Academy is privileged to be the official host studio for this prestigious ballet company and to assist in bringing to Charleston area families this extraordinary, heartwarming performance.

On August 26th 2018, Ballet Academy welcomed 82 dancers, 6- 17 years old from various local dance studios to their ballet school in West Ashley. Each had an opportunity to audition in front of Ms. Maria Morari, current audition director and professional ballerina with the Moscow Ballet. Formerly with The National Theatre for Ballet and Opera in Chisinau, Moldova, and with experience in touring worldwide, Ms. Morari joined the Moscow Ballet’s North American touring company in 2017. With an additional background in gymnastics and teaching, she counts it a privilege to share her love of movement and artistry with young, aspiring dancers.

Some of the roles for which these young dancers auditioned were Mice, Party Kids, Snow Maidens and Snow Sprites, as well as some ACT II Variations.
This unique opportunity of auditioning, rehearsing and performing with an internationally acclaimed, professional ballet company is made possible to children all over the continent thanks to the “Dance with Us” program, conceptualized and underwritten solely by The Moscow Ballet.

Not only is this a marvelous opportunity for young, local performers, but is a must-see performance for all others! To sum this up, consider the words of Ballet Academy owner and director, Corina Fimian:

“The charm and artistry, together with the athletic ability of the dancers through sound technique, is unmatched. From the dancers to the sets, the entire performance is an unending and stunning display for the aesthetic senses. It is difficult to know where to look! If you have not yet experienced it, I highly recommend it as a wholesome and memorable holiday activity for the entire family.”

To purchase tickets for this event, please visit www.nutcracker.com/buy-tickets.

Master Class with Elena Pedan

A master class taught by Elena Pedan, soloist with the Moscow Ballet, was held at our BAC studio on October 9, 2017.

Elena is also the Auditions Director for “The Great Russian Nutcracker”, and was here in Charleston conducting the audition for the 2017 production held at our studio in West Ashley the previous Saturday.  A production in which many of our own students will take a part on December 9, 2017 at the North Charleston Performing Arts Center. *

Ms. Pedan was born in Dnipropretrovsk, Ukraine.  Realizing her love of the stage through winning a school beauty contest, she began studying ballet at the age of 9 at the Dnepropetrovsk Academic Opera and Ballet Theater.  After graduating in 2006, she entered the Dnepropetrovsk Theater and Art College where she studied for 4 years.  She later received a Master’s Degree with the International Slavic University at the Faculty of Choreography and Directing while dancing professionally with the dance company associated with the school of her youth.  Elena also has taught at this same studio where she originally began her training and career.  This year marks her first traveling with the Moscow Ballet throughout America in the unique capacity as Soloist and Auditions Director.  Additionally, Ms. Pedan tours internationally as a guest artist with ballet companies in Europe and Asia.

Our students, as well as some visiting students, were thrilled to experience this rare opportunity to benefit from Ms. Pedan’s knowledge and experience.  Ms. Pedan’s class was challenging yet interesting.  This is just one of many master classes we offer throughout the year to students in the area.  We are thankful to Ms. Pedan and wholeheartedly look forward to her coming again!

*For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit their website at http://www.nutcracker.com/your-city/get-tickets/north-charleston