Grishko USA Rising Star May/June 2013

It was a honor to be selected as a Grishko USA Rising Star! Thank you Grishko!

Grishko Rising Star

Nicole Zadra

Nicole Zadra’s story shows what can be accomplished through a combination of perseverance, determination and creative problem-solving.

Nicole,18, was accepted last summer into the Bolshoi Ballet Academy summer intensive, on a merit scholarship. Expecting to spend just a few weeks at the intensive in New York, instead, she was invited to apply for the National Security Language Initiative for Youth’s immersion program with the Bolshoi in Moscow. A program of the Russian American Foundation and funded by U.S. Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs in cooperation with American Councils for International Education, NSLI-Y is a full-scholarship program based on what Nicole calls a “rigorous application process (including) high school transcripts, letters of recommendation, an essay and an interview.” She spent six weeks in Moscow living at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy where she took daily ballet and Russian language classes.

The summer program had been a dream come true, but there was more to come. Shortly after her return home to Irvington, New York, Nicole heard from the Bolshoi. “While I was in ballet classes in Moscow, the director of the academy and Irina Sirova, chair of the classical department, came and watched us,” she recalls. “I had heard there was a chance some of us could get invited to attend year round, so I worked very hard. A few days after I arrived home, I received an invitation – I was completely surprised. I cried immediately with happiness!” She was invited to join the second-year class in the Russian class (not the international class), so that if she continued through the third year she would graduate on stage in front of companies prospecting for dancers.

Nicole was honored and excited, but didn’t know how she would be able to afford the tuition and living expenses. Her mother, Erina, is a sole-supporting single mother, and although she had always been able to support Nicole’s training (most recently at Manhattan Youth Ballet in New York), she wasn’t going to be able to pay for her to live and study in Russia.

But Nicole wasn’t giving up. “I Googled how to raise money and found GoFundMe,” she says. “At first, I thought there was no way I’d do this because it is embarrassing to ask for help. (But) being invited was a dream come true and I decided I had to try to make this happen.”

She created her GoFundMe page and shared it with Misty Copeland, whom she has always admired. “She has really been the only face in ballet for me, growing up, that I identified with, because I am a biracial African American. Also, I was always told by friends and teachers how much I resembled her.”

Nicole was thrilled when Copeland responded and shared her story, which helped garner funding. “She is the real deal! She truly cares and gives back and I hope to not only be an amazing dancer like her but to also (support) young minority dancers who, like me, have the odds of being a professional ballerina stacked against them,” Nicole says.

Despite her gifts, Nicole herself had faced some negativity about her prospects in ballet, Erina says. “But ever since she was little, Nicole’s attitude was ‘I’m going to prove that one wrong!'” Erina says. “She’s a very hard worker and very determined, and you can tell when she dances how much she loves it.”

After Copeland had shared Nicole’s story, she received a major donation from Questlove from The Roots. “It was a blessing,” Erina says. Questlove tweeted about Nicole, bringing even more donations, which were enough to augment Erina’s resources so that Nicole could begin her studies in October.

For her part, Erina is “living very frugally, saving every penny” in order to keep Nicole in Moscow. “It’s a big sacrifice, but it’s worth it,” she says. She misses Nicole, her only child, but maintains contact through daily texting and frequent Face Time.

Now, Nicole is facing yet another challenge: returning to Russia after summer break for the culminating year of her training. Erina plans to get a second job, but “the only way I can return is if I raise a lot more money very quickly,” Nicole says.

Nicole has been featured in the Huffington Post and Ebony magazine, and she maintains her GoFundMe page and blog, in hopes of finding more funding or attracting a sponsor.

Nicole has worn Grishko pointe shoes for about four years. When she started dancing in New York, “Judy fitted me (at Grishko NYC) and I have been wearing Ulanovas ever since. She took the time to make sure that I found the right shoe,” she says.

Much like Copeland, Nicole dreams of someday passing on the gifts she has received. “After becoming a professional, I would like to teach ballet and share my Bolshoi training and cultural experience in Moscow with young ballerinas who might not ever have the opportunity. I want to be a role model and show young girls that dreams can come true if they work hard and never give up.”

Although she would love to dance with a Russian company, she knows that it’s unlikely for an American. “I would be grateful to dance with any company in the U.S. or internationally,” she says. “As long as I am dancing, I will be happy.”

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Exams at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and My Future Plans!

Hello everyone!

I am sorry for the delay in blogging. My last few months at the Academy flew by. I was auditioning for work while preparing for final exams.

This past April I took all my exams (acting, classical ballet, duet, and character) and passed them all 🙂 I am now a Bolshoi Ballet Academy graduate!

Bolshoi Ballet Academy Class of 2014

Bolshoi Ballet Academy Class of 2014

I am so glad the exams are over. It was very stressful and even though I encountered many problems along the way to exams I had a great time overall.

If you would like to see my acting exam here is the link:

In the past 6 months I attended several ballet company job auditions. I chose to audition in Europe because the cost to travel from Moscow to NY was double the cost to audition in Europe. This decision gave me the opportunity to visit and spend a day or two in many countries from Germany to Amsterdam to London and more. I made the most of my time in each country. With very little money I did a lot of walking and photo taking, trying to see as much as I can. I really enjoyed my time. My favorite city was London, England. The prettiest city was Prague, CZ. The auditions were nerve wrecking, especially when I was alone and didn’t know anyone. In Dresden I took company class and I was so happy to see a boy I kind of knew from the Bolshoi Ballet NYC summer intensive. I also met another girl who trains in NYC and so we all immediately connected.

In the studio at the Bolshoi Academy

In the studio at the Bolshoi Academy

In London I auditioned for the Hong Kong Ballet. The audition was in the Royal Ballet School studios which are beautiful. I remember in the audition I wasn’t nervous at all. The class went pretty fast and was a lot of fun! After center the boys did some jumps and turns and the girls put on their pointe shoes. We didn’t do much on pointe just fuettes and a small adajeio. After all that they told us they would make a cut and keep about 8 people to see our duet skills. To my surprise I was picked to stay on for the next portion of the audition. I was in total shock. My partner that day was a boy from Holland who, thank god, was really strong because I am not the most skinny of dancers haha. At the end of the audition they interviewed each of us, one by one, and they told us they would contact us in approx. 2-4 weeks to inform us of their decision. I went back to Russia and only a week later I received an email offering me a Corp de Ballet position with the Hong Kong Ballet! I accepted the offer! I still continued to audition, just because you never know what could happen. I have seen friends have visa problems in the past and you just never know. I was and I am soooo excited and grateful for the opportunity to join such an amazing company!!!

Sightseeing when in London for auditions

Sightseeing when in London for auditions

After my exams were over I decided to come home right away so that I could spend some time with my mom and family/friends who I have not seen in about 8 mouths and also to get ready for Hong Kong. I waited to write this blog because I wanted to be 100% sure everything was going to work out with my visa before I told the world officially. I applied for my work visa and I recently found out that my work visa was approved so I am set to start work this July.

While home I have been in the gym everyday, trying to get in shape. I am also trying to live a more healthy lifestyle. I have been using my free time to see new things in my city that I have not seen since being away. There is so much to do in see in NYC for free. It’s amazing really.

Now I just prepare. Prepare for the next chapter of my life. It is time to be an adult and really take on adult responsibilities. I am looking forward to moving to Hong Kong. I was extremely nervous about being alone and thinking nobody will like me. Then I found out the girl that I met in the Dresden audition is also joining the company. My mom says maybe its fate. What are the odds of becoming friends with the girl I would be moving to HK with. Anyway I felt so much better. Just knowing that you know at least know one person makes it seem a little less scary.  She and I have decided to try to get an apartment together. Hong Kong is very expensive and it has been very hard looking for apartments. It is hard to find an apt this early as well as online. Everything is tiny and VERY EXPENSIVE!! Right now my mom and I are trying to save as much as we can for the first months rent and living expenses because I am not sure when I will get my first paycheck. Also my mom cannot come with me to Hong Kong and help me move all my stuff because we cant afford it. It is very upsetting because she is my best friend and I want her to be there with me, not just because I am scared to death and need help, but also because I want her there when I start my new life and this new journey…but right now it seems like its not happening : (

If you have any questions or if you would consider donating but would prefer to send a private donation please contact me at nicolezadra@gmail.com

I am so thankful for the opportunity to live and train at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia. I will always be grateful to my teacher Irina Sirova for seeing something in me and believing in me. I would not have been able to complete the traineeship if it wasn’t for my Angel and everyone else who supported me physically and financially. Thank you from the bottom of my heart. I am so excited to begin working with the Hong Kong Ballet. I hope you will continue to follow my journey and I look forward to sharing the process with you.

Thank you all!

Nicole xo

Ballet Exam Tutu

Ballet Exam Tutu

 

 

Audition, Performance & Exam Update

Hello everyone hope all are well.
For the past three weeks I have been getting ready for company Auditions. Two weeks ago I traveled to Amsterdam where I auditioned for the Het National Ballet (Dutch National Ballet). I am not a very good at traveling alone because I always seem to get lost and I don’t have a phone that works so it was a little difficult but I had help from a new friend who goes to the school thats affiliated with the company. He showed me the area and my hotel. It was a very beautiful at night with the imageriver and the lights. I wouldn’t want to live there though. It also spelled like marajuana aka weed everywhere there ..hahah ;). I was really nervous for this audition. It was my first one and I was trying to be positive but I knew that even if I get nothing its just the beginning and there will be more. When I arrived at the audition I ran into some old friends so I felt a little more relaxed. The audition was two classes mixed girls and boys. It was a nice class but unfortunately I didn’t get anything. It is ok though. They took three boys and two girls form their school and thats all I know. I didn’t get to see Amsterdam during daylight because after the audition I had to run to the airport to get on a plane to Munich for the audition at the Bavarian State Ballet in Germany. I would like to go back to see Amsterdam with friends someday 🙂

Munich was my favorite of all the audition locations. The buildings where beautiful and the theater was amazing! At that audition I had a few friends there with me. There where about 100 girls in one class and they did cuts. I was cut third round before jumps unfortunately. I felt very young. There were many girls who were very experienced and have already been in companies or studio companies. Anyway the city was beautiful. imageAfter the audition I took nice long walk through the city, saw amazing buildings and got a very yummy german pretzel and coffee. I stayed in a hostel which was different. What an experience lol! If I had to take shower I had to go to the 4th floor to take one and if I had to use the bathroom I had to actually leave my room and go down the hall…it was very different showered nooo heat!

After that weekend I had to auditions/rehearsals for Le Fille Mal Gardee for the role in the Gypsy Dance which is performing at the Bolshoi Theater in February. Its character dance part in the show. I went to the ballet auditions and I wasn’t needed probably due to my skin color and the fact I’m not anorexic and Russian. I wasn’t surprised. I am glad I was selected for first cast in the Gypsy Dance and I am excited because I am getting to perform at the Bolshoi Theater which will be such a special experience.

Last weekend I auditioned Staatsballett Berlin. I stayed in Berlin for three days. Berlin was freezing and snowing. On the last day there I got to visit Charlottenburg Palace (See pic) It was stunning. imageBut anyway the audition process was long. There were two girl classes and there where girls I knew who were soloists with companies already so I new I wasn’t getting it. The audition was with Nacho Duato who I very much like and I would love to be in that company. I guess I will try next year if I get the chance.

I have been very tired with rehearsals and exam work and auditions. I still have to make videos so I can send them to more companies especially some US companies which I cannot afford to travel to. I would really like to just have a job and not have to worry about asking my mom for money and having her suffer financially because of auditions expenses and food expenses here at the academy and pointe shoes, etc… I am starting to feel like I don’t even care which company I am in…I just want to dance. I am going to try now for more smaller companies even if they are not well known because you have to start somewhere and unless you are like super amazing its going to be hard unfortunately 😦

The next auditions I have lined up begin right after Le Fille performance. I’m not sure if I will go to them at this point due to finances. I am trying to get ready for them but I am loosing my motivation. I have been seriously considering giving up dancing. I am thinking maybe I should give up and just go college and pick a career that is easier because I am already 19 and I have been training very long and I want to start my life and be set. I feel I am not strong enough. I don’t have the financial means to get the coaching needed or to attend the auditions and let’s face it I’m not white. I smile and put on a happy face but deep down feeling defeated. So I have to decide if by end of year I will continue to pursue this classical ballet dream of mine anymore.

In school now we are starting to learn our ballet exam. Its a little weird but we will see how my teacher puts it all together. I have not been able to practice my acting exam because when I have acting rehearsals I have been away on auditions and this weekend my partner is dancing in Milan for a gala so no rehearsals and our exam in on March 22 !! I am a little nervous…

If anyone has advice on the job process feel free message me because its hitting me hard and very stressful.

Thank you for reading and the support :**

http://www.gofundme.com/nicolezadra

Love, Nicole xoxo

Exams & Summer

Hi everyone! I am sorry I haven’t posted for such a long time! I have so much to tell you. The last time I posted I was getting ready for my year end exams at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Well that was back in May and I completed and passed all of my exams! It was a very stressful time for me. I had an exam in ballet, character dance and duet. I probably could have done better but at the time I did my best. The biggest issue I have to correct is my weight. I was told that I needed to lose weight. That being said after all the exams are over it’s a tradition to go out and eat everything! Which is what I did with my class! After the exams were over I continued taking my ballet classes and I spent time with my boyfriend Diego and friends relaxing. It was a very sad time because my boyfriend and some of my friends were graduating and I knew it would be a very long time, if ever, that I would see them again. It was definitely a time of mixed emotions. I was so happy I was invited back to the Academy to complete my final year and I couldn’t wait to go home to see my mom, friends and family but when the day actually came to go home I cried. It was so hard to say goodbye to everyone, especially Diego.

Diego

Diego

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I flew back home to NY in mid-June. I was so happy to see my mom! I had a week off and spent most of the week going to doctors. A week after I arrived home the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive in NYC, which I attended for the past 6 weeks, began. I was very lucky because my primary ballet teacher at the Academy, Irina Sirova, came to the intensive to teach and I was placed in her class

My Bolshoi Acad teacher Irina Sirova

My Bolshoi Acad teacher Irina Sirova

My bolshoi Acad Duet teacher Mr. Ilya Ryzhakov & BFF/partner Michael

My bolshoi Acad Duet teacher Mr. Ilya Ryzhakov & BFF/partner Michael

It was like a continuation of my year round studies. The summer intensive was hard work but a lot of fun also. It was nice to reunite with ballet friends from previous years and I also made many new friends. I have also become closer with a few of the Russian boys from my class at the Academy who came to the NYC intensive. It is funny how you spend an entire year in class with someone but barely speak to them. In my case because I am shy and self-conscious about my Russian language skills. I guess at the summer intensive there is more down time and so we had the chance to try to speak more and I was more confident because I was in my comfort zone, being this is my home. They would ask and I was able to help them, show them around, etc.. and because of this we grew closer as friends. The 6 weeks went by so fast. This past Friday August 2nd we had our final performance. I danced in several pieces. After dancing in one of the pieces my duet teacher from the academy (I didn’t have him as a teacher this summer as he taught a different level) was very pleased with my performance and told me I did very, very good!! I was so happy because he is probably the hardest on me all year at the academy. He tends to get angry at me often but I know it is because he believes in me. So to hear this from him made my night! It was also my birthday so this was one of the best presents to receive! After the performance my mom took a few of my family members and friends out to dinner to celebrate the performance and my 19th birthday. It was a great night filled with good food and laughter!

Classmates from US & Russia

Classmates from US & Russia

After performance 19th birthday celebration dinner.

After performance 19th birthday celebration dinner.

Now I have a week off and then I will begin classes at the Manhattan Youth Ballet SI. MYB contacted me a few weeks ago and invited me, to my surprise, to come with a full scholarship. I am looking forward to this because I will study the Balanchine style, as well as, jazz, choreography and contemporary. I studied these styles in the past at MYB but at the Bolshoi Academy the primary focus is classical so I am grateful to MYB for inviting me back to train and perform. It will be a great refresher. My teachers will include principal dancers from the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theater, and Boston Ballet. It is always good to get a new perspective from different teachers and working with professional dancers is a great way to network. I will study there for 3 weeks and then I will perform on August 29th . I will try to post about my MYB experience before the summer ends. MYB has always supported me and I am thankful for the opportunity.

My Bolshoi Ballet contract for this fall is due to arrive this week. I had passport problems so the contract was delayed. As many of you know who follow my blog I wasn’t sure if I was going to be able to return to the academy due to the financial cost. Well this is going to sound silly but back when I was at the Academy there was one day when it rained and then I looked out my dorm room window and saw a double rainbow. It was beautiful! When I saw the rainbow I wished that a miracle would happen and that I would find a sponsor so that I could return to the Academy. You won’t believe this but a few days later my wish came true! A very, very special person came forward and decided to sponsor the rest of my time at the Academy! I am not sure if this person wants to stay anonymous so I will just say that I am so grateful and thankful to my sponsor! This person is a true angel! My angel! Because of his kindness and generosity I will be returning to the Academy on August 30st to complete my final year at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy! I want my sponsor to know and everyone else who supported me this past year how truly thankful I am. None of this would have been possible without my mom, my angel and everyone else who donated and supported me.

Next time you see a rainbow and make a wish!!! It just might come true! I know it sounds silly but if you believe then your wishes and dreams can come true. So never stop wishing, believing and dreaming!!blog 6
Love,
Nicole xx

Other exciting news: Also back in May Grishko USA named me their Rising Star for May/June 2013. I was featured in their newsletter and they also donating 20 pairs of pointe shoes. Thank you Grishko!

Something different for you! Photo Blog: Spring, Adventures, Exams, Performance, etc..

Third Course Acting Exam Bolshoi Ballet Academy 2013

Third Course Acting Exam Bolshoi Ballet Academy 2013

Third Course Acting Exam Bolshoi Ballet Academy 2013

Third Course Acting Exam Bolshoi Ballet Academy 2013

My first performance at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy 3/1/13

My first performance at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy 3/1/13

 

After first performance with girls from Italy

After first performance with girls from Italy

Tickets to see Bolshoi Ballet perform w/Andrea from Sweden

Tickets to see Bolshoi Ballet perform w/Andrea from Sweden

Svetlana Zakharova!

Svetlana Zakharova!

Art sculpture in Moscow

Art sculpture in Moscow

Moscow River in Spring

Moscow River in Spring

In front of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy on 4/14/2013

In front of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy on 4/14/2013

With Ambassador of the United States of America to the Russian Federation Michael A. McFaul and his wife

With Ambassador of the United States of America to the Russian Federation Michael A. McFaul and his wife

April, Easter and Exams

Well it’s April already and I can’t believe how fast time is flying by. It is still very cold here even though Spring began March 1st. The sun is shining more which is nice.

The 3rd course graduating class had their acting exams recently. As I mentioned before my class assisted with Ksusha’s final acting exam. She acted out the Mad Scene from Giselle. She did an excellent job. To be a part of her exam, to be on stage with my class during her scene and for the finale was a great experience. I now have a good idea as to what will be expected of me next year should I be fortunate enough to return to the Academy to complete my studies.

Here is a video created by Ilya Kuznetsov which is of the 3rd course acting exam. I encourage you to watch it not only because you can see a glimpse of me but also so that you can the talent that the Bolshoi Ballet Academy produces. It is truly a privilege to study here and I am so thankful for the opportunity.

To see more videos created by Ilya Kuznetsov please visit http://vimeo.com/ilyaballet

EASTER SUNDAY

Cathedral in Moscow

Easter in Moscow was an adventure. A couple of friends and I woke up early, went to the store and bought eggs to color for Easter. We went to church at noon thinking it was an English speaking Mass but it ended up being in Albanian Mass. It was really different from what I see in church back home. It was still a beautiful mass. We left half way through the mass because we felt out of place since it wasn’t our language or religion which we practice. After that we were went to Burger King for lunch (yea I know very fatty) but we didn’t have enough money so we needed to go someplace cheap. Then we walked to the Moscow Zoo and took some pictures. Unfortunately our day came to a stop when my friend Shans phone was stolen (for the 2nd time). She was pick pocketed by some sketchy guy! I felt so bad because it was the second time her iPhone was stolen. Well after that we went to the American Embassy. At first we couldn’t find it. I knew where it was but no one wanted to listen to me because usually I’m wrong with directions. This time I was 100% sure I was right. We asked around and a nice couple walked us all the way to the embassy. It was exactly where I said it was so of course I could not let that go lol. Anyway, it ended up being closed, so we just went back to the academy and colored eggs. Overall it was an interesting and nice Easter.

Finally my class is now preparing for our ballet exams. The duet exam will take place on May 27th and our character exam is on May 17th. We still did not get a date for our classical ballet exam but it should be around the same time as the other exams. Speaking of exams today most classes were cancelled because graduating 3rd course A and B girls and course 3A boys had their exams on stage. The girls all did a very nice job. They danced beautifully. The 3A boys were amazing. There were a few errors but they danced with artistry and looked look manly and strong. I am so happy that I was able to watch the exams today. Next year I will be in 3A and performing on stage like them so it was good to see what I will be a part of and to know what to expect! It was also very inspiring. I have a renewed motivation to continue to work hard and focus solely on my future. I am very excited and thankful to be part of this school and its legacy of training the best dancers. I only pray now that I will be able to raise the money needed in time to return to the academy in the fall 2013 and complete my traineeship.

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Easter with my Bolshoi family ❤

Well until next time…
Love from Russia,
Nicole