Natalie and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy

photoIn September 2009 I enrolled in the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, aged 16. Now, aged 20, I am only 6 months from becoming the first English girl to graduate with a full diploma from the Bolshoi Academy.

Before I gained my place at the Bolshoi I was a student at Watford Grammar School for Girls and a part time student of The Gypsy Booth College and School of Theatre Arts. Gypsy Booth is a member of the Association of Russian Ballet and Theatre Arts and has had various teachers from the Bolshoi come over and give open classes to its members. It was in September 2008 that Svetlana Adyrkhaeva (a former principal dancer for the Bolshoi 1960 – 1980) held such a class where she spotted my potential and encouraged me to apply to the Academy. I submitted an amateur audition video and with disbelief, I was accepted.


The funding for my time at the Bolshoi has been generously sponsored by the Genesis Foundation, who support and nurture young talent. Considering the cost of flights, insurance, phone bills, visas, paperwork, food and wear and tear on ballet/pointe shoes and leotards, I would have struggled without the grant from the Genesis Foundation, and I am very grateful for all the support they have given me so far.


Photo shoot

I never had the intention of enrolling into a full time dance Academy, firstly because I was never given the opportunity and secondly, because I honestly didn’t think I had the potential. The past four years have been life changing, not only has it altered my performance in the studio but it has helped shape me as a person and taught me valuable life lessons. I will never forget my time training at the Bolshoi Academy.

19 thoughts on “Natalie and the Bolshoi Ballet Academy

  1. What a proud God-mother I am. I hope you are feeling better than you initially did and that you survived your quarantine without too much trauma.

    Will be keeping an eye on you now, via this, as suggested by mum.

    Take care and much love


  2. Dear Natalie

    Last year you applied for financial assistance from Philip Bates Trust. We would like to support you albeit in a small way. Is it too late for us to help. Could you phone us on 0121 747 5705

    Martin Bates

  3. Hi Natalie,

    I have just come across your blog and I am really impressed! I am British – I have been working in Moscow for about 7 years and live just down the road from the Bolshoi. I am sure by now you are an experienced Muscovite but if you ever want to meet up with a sort-of-local, let me know!

    Good luck,


  4. Hello, I am a 15 years old ballet student, I would like to subscribe to your site blog please Natalie.
    Thank you very much for sharing with us .

  5. Dear Natalie,

    I’m really curious about you. Do you know when i should submit my dvd audition? I’d also like to ask, what is the cost for an international student (for full time training) if you know, any general information would be a great help.

    • I am sorry but I really cannot give details like this on the Internet. I can tell you though, that I did not submit a DVD myself so I don’t know about a dates; a teacher within the academy took my DVD to the academy during the early months of the year. It’s probably best if you contact the academy!

    • I also started ballet very late; if you have the determination to do something, just go for it! I started ballet at 10 but only started to take it seriously at 14 and auditioning for schools was a last minute decision I made at 16. If you have more questions, ask away on my formspring as I respond far quicker and you can ask as many questions as you like!

  6. Hey 🙂

    Know we haven’t spoken in a while… just wanted to say well done 🙂 I just clicked on your link to this site one day, and am so happy to see what you’ve achieved…! Your dancing always was amazing!! 😛

    Hope you get everything you wish for 🙂


  7. Hi Natalie!
    I just wanted to tell you that your story was really encouraging. I am an American 14 year old, and I have been in and out of studios that have given me a good foundation, but nothing I can work with yet. I am just now starting to be serious about dance, and I just got my Pointes last September. They hurt a lot and I feel really behind because the other girls have been on their Pointes for years. I really want to do well but I am feeling pressure to lose weight and other things like that. The other girls are so much thinner than I am. at age 14, I am 93 lbs., and I wish to be 90 or lower. that would make me underweight. I had anorexia in the sixth grade and I don’t want to go back to it. As a proffesional dancer, would you say that it is worth it to become anorexic to make it? what do you suggest I do? I feel left out and bullied by the other girls because I can’t do a pirrouette in my pointes yet and they can do doubles at ages 12 and 13. neither one of my parents are dancers, so although they try to be helpful, they don’t understand the pain. I would go through anything to become great at dance, but my body doesn’t agree. how far should I let myself go to do well?
    sorry for the long letter, I just wanted to ask someone who understands.
    Thanks so much,
    -Mackenzie H.

    • Hello Mackenzie,

      Living in Russia, I completely understand the pressures you feel to lose weight. But I promise you, by doing so you will not be improving your dancing ability. 93 pounds is already very small and I really do not recommend going any smaller, not only will it damage your health but I promise you, you will not have the energy to improve your ability. Everyone is capable of different things and will achieve them at different ages. I am 19 years old and even now I still do not feel confident with pointe work, but comparing yourself to others is only going to make you more insecure about your own potential. You are so young still and have so many years to learn! I didnt learn to do double pirouettes on pointe until I was 16 going on 17! Do not panic! If it gives you any comfort, many countries refuse to take Size 0 dancers into companies; I know this is true particularly in Germany. Their dancers are of a normal size and they have a really strong company.

      Thanks for your interest in my blog and all the best with your dancing!


  8. Dear Natalie,
    thank you so much for replying! I feel so much better now that I have some advice. It helps so much to know that I can be a normal size and not stress about it. I think that the internet and the media give a warped idea of what a true ballerina is. all this time I thought that I had to be Russian, anorexic, and flat in the chest to become a real dancer. I am definitely relieved to hear that someone so young has made it professionally without those crazy things! I can now eat food again and appreciate my curves!:) Anyway, thank you again for your help and good luck with your dancing career!
    -Mackenzie H.

  9. Dear Natalie

    I too have a great passion for ballet and would really want to join the Bolshoi academy, but I have a problem with financial necessity and I am 12 going to be 13. Do you think it would be possible for me to join?

    • Hi,
      Yes it certainly is possible but you will need to source the money via sponsorship. The Genesis Foundation have sponsored me throughout my time here. Good luck with it! x

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