My year in Hong Kong: The Move

In July 2014 I moved to Hong Kong to start my career as a professional ballet artist with the Hong Kong Ballet. It was a great achievement for me. I was so proud of myself for not giving up on ballet and honored to be part of a ballet company.

Arrival at HK Intl. Airport

Arrival at HK Intl. Airport

My mom and I traveled from NY to Hong Kong. Thank god she came with me because my first week in HK was quite the experience. We arrived in HK and you could feel the humidity right away. We took a taxi to the Bay Bridge Hotel, which the company set us up in. It was a very nice hotel but very far away from everything. It was around 9 pm and we were very hungry after our 17 plus hour journey. I remember it like it was yesterday. We asked the front desk if there was a restaurant or some place in walking distance where we could get dinner. He told us that we would need to take the hotel shuttle to the closest town to get food. This is when we learned that we would have to take this shuttle everyday while at this hotel. It is the only way to get to the MTR, which is the main public transportation system in HK. You could take a taxi but it would be more costly. They also have buses in HK but at this point and at the advice of others we chose to use the MTR as our main means of transportation. Anyway we took the shuttle to the local town. The shuttle dropped us off at the bus stop on the main road. Now keep in mind its after 9 pm at night. We were like now where do we go? We followed a few others on this maze like, side walk. It led us to the local neighborhood which was very much bustling like any night in NYC. We both took a deep breath and said phew… this is doable. We just had to pay attention so that we could find our way back.



The first thing we noticed was the MTR station, it looked very nice and clean, in fact the MTR stations all across HK are just amazingly clean, like almost spotless! To this day I do not know how they stay so clean with the huge crowds of commuters. The MTR can pretty much take you anywhere. Convenient is an understatement. The cars are so nice and cool especially after being out in the HK humidity. I appreciate the HK MTR system even more now that I am back in NYC and riding the hot, dirty, dingy, NYC subways. Bravo to the whomever developed and maintains the HK MTR!

Anyway back to the story… We were looking for food. Right away we noticed the street vendors and a few common HK street foods… fish balls and egg waffles. We had learned about popular HK street foods from watching You Tube videos before going to HK. There was no way we were going to try a fish ball but we were very open to trying an egg waffle or I believe the name in Cantonese is gai daan tsai. We were like… ok well if we cannot find anything else we would come back and try the waffles. We continued to walk around. Amazed at what we saw. It was so different. We took a few pictures and we were feeling comfortable in the local area even though we clearly did not fit in. Then it happened, a sketchy Asian man, in passing, yelled at us and not in a nice way to “go home”. I immediately freaked out and I remember I was like mom lets go back to the hotel. She was like no just ignore him. She always says not everyone is going to like you and you can’t run and hide from ignorant people. I now know she was freaking out a bit inside to however she was staying calm for me. Anyway then we turned the corner and there it was… like of beam of shining light in the sky, the golden M. Yes, that’s right, McDonalds lol! Of course my mom and I are always open to trying new foods but after a long flight, jet lag, humidity, nerves, etc… we were so happy to finally see something familiar. We went in and ordered. We sat down and I will never forget the look on my moms face when she opened her chicken sandwich. She was like this isn’t chicken lol. It was chicken obviously just not like the chicken sandwiches in the USA. She took a bite and the expression on her face from the taste…that’s when the laughter began. Even a young local boy sitting near us saw and was laughing. It was great! She laughed to, she was a good sport. She only ended up eating a few fries I think. My chicken fingers were fine. We ended up going back to get the egg waffles and another pancake type snack and we loved them. This was similar in taste to a pancake or waffle in the USA. We didn’t want to miss the last shuttle back to the hotel so we decided to go back and continue the exploration the following day.

View from the Bay Bridge Hotel on the South China Sea

View from the Bay Bridge Hotel on the South China Sea

I had a week in HK before I had to start work. So I spent that week with my mom looking for an apartment and being a tourist. We jumped right in and learned how to use the MTR, which was not difficult at all. The positive experiences during my first week in HK included visiting Victoria’s Peak, the Big Buddha, LKF, Causeway Bay, and Wan Chai (HK’s red light district). We also found the theater where I would report to work, and more. I will talk more about some of these beautiful sites at a later time.

Another view from the Bay Bridge Hotel on the South China Sea

Another view from the Bay Bridge on the S. China Sea

The horrible experiences during my first week in HK… Although I use the maybe to harsh word horrible I can laugh about it now. I had an apartment all set up prior to going to HK but then plans had changed and I thought I was going to have a roommate so I gave up the apartment and I was looking for an apartment for 2. The other person wasn’t arriving until a few days before work started and my mom and I were having no luck finding an apartment suitable for two, which was affordable and without having to commit to it long term lease or living so far away from work. We eventually found two small service apartments available in the same Causeway Bay building. By this time my mom was fed up with the process. She was annoyed because she didn’t want me rushing into anything until I learned more about the neighborhoods and talked to people. She wasn’t thrilled with me moving in with a girl I didn’t know very well either. Let me be honest she was very mad at this point because I had a nice apartment that I gave up and moving to a foreign country was stressful enough, but trying to find a flat that was acceptable, in a week, and not just for me but for a girl she didn’t even know was even harder. We only had about 9 days to do this because my mom had to get back to NYC for work and she couldn’t afford to put me up in a hotel for two months. Although after the experience we had she might have considered it. She must have said to me a hundred times, Nicole we are on a strict budget, Nicole are you sure this girl is on the same page as you with regards to taking your time, finding something suitable, etc… She made it clear we were not wealthy Americans and we are on a strict budget. As some of you already no, my mom is a single parent and my father never supported me physically or financially. Since I wasn’t getting paid until the end of August she alone had to pay for all my living expenses from mid July until the end of August. This included everything from food, transportation, flat deposits, rent etc..I said yes. Once I received my first paycheck I had to start supporting myself gradually. So anyway at this point the service apartment was the best option as it was a month to month lease, fully furnished and it would give us time to find a nice apartment. The service apartment was tiny but it was sufficient or so I thought. For 8000 HKD (approx $1000 USD today) it had a large TV, free internet, little fridge, desk, tiny closet, tiny bathroom. It was in an ideal location in Causeway Bay right near everything someone would need. It was totally fine as a temporary place to live for a clueless 19 year old starting her first job. That isn’t the horrible part though…

We couldn’t move in until Saturday. We had to check out of the hotel by Sunday and work started Monday, so as you can see I was cutting it close. We moved some things into the flat on Saturday, we didn’t stay long. My mom just looked it over and everything looked fine. After that we left and headed out to shop. I was so excited and felt relieved that everything was falling into place at the last minute. It was just a box with a bathroom but I knew it wasn’t forever. The next day we went back and moved the rest of our things into our rooms. We didn’t stay there long, since I had to start work the following day and my mom was leaving in a few days so we went out and did some exploring if I remember correctly. Then we went home a little earlier that night to unpack, get settled and so I could go to sleep early for my first day of work. When we went back to the apartment my mom opened the fridge and there was a cockroach in it. We were both a little confused as to how a roach got into a tiny, cold fridge but she killed it. As we were unpacking we saw another roach on the floor and then another, and another and another. If you could see our faces… What the bleep!!! My mom was freaking out. I was was freaking out. It was like 11pm by this time. Was this really happening to us? My mom had the apt. door open and the lady who lived in the apt next door happened to come home and my mom was like is this building infested? The lady was shocked also. She swore she never saw anything like it. The management office was closed. I don’t remember if we checked with the other girl that night or not. I don’t think we did but I honestly cannot remember. My mom called a few hotels but they were booked. We had no place to go. The lady next door told her there was a 24 hour grocery store down the street were we could buy Raid. We went, bought raid, and my mom sprayed the room. She pretty much painted the walls and floors with Raid. My bright eyes and my excitement was gone, I cried like a baby. I told her or maybe begged her not to leave me in HK that night, to take us back to America. She was on the phone with my family back home and crying to. She was like how am I going to leave her here alone. Can you blame us both for having breakdowns that night though, between the jetlag, nerves and culture shock from what we where experiencing, well, I think a good cry was warranted. Anyway the Raid pretty much stopped the roaches from coming out of wherever they were coming from. There were only a few stragglers after that. I am surprised the Raid didn’t kill my mother and I as well given she used like two cans that night. After we both calmed down she reassured me that everything would be ok and had me lay down in the bed and get some sleep for my first day of work. I barely slept that night and she stayed up pretty much all night with the lights on to kill any roaches. Look neither my mom and I are diva’s by any means. We live in NY in a small apartment and we have seen huge monster roaches in NYC. This was on a whole different level though. When I say we killed a few dozen roaches I am not exaggerating. It was horrible and I know there are much worse circumstances to be in, however for me, the night before my first day of work, at that moment, nothing could be worse. The next day I got up and went to work. My mom waited for the office to open and I don’t know what my mom said to them or threatened. She is the nicest, sweetest person and will do anything for anyone but if you anger her well lets just say she has a mouth and knows how to use it. The management immediately checked the room where we left them plenty of dead roaches to clean up. They apologized and said they don’t know what happened. Apparently my room happened to be empty for awhile so they used that as an excuse. Anyway they had there staff move all my stuff to a much larger, more expensive room (12,000 HKD a month which in USD is approx. $1550.00) on another floor and said we could take as much time as needed to decide whether to stay of not and I could stay in this room for the same rent in which I was paying for the other room 8000 HKD for as long as I wanted. I came home from work that night and spent the night in the new room. I didn’t see any sign of roaches. My mom went out looking at apartments the next day but she didn’t see anything acceptable that didn’t require a 1 or 2 year lease. So since my mom had to go back to NY we decided I would just stay in that room until I found a place. Shortly after all this drama the girl who was going to be my roommate bailed on me… even though she knew my financial dilemma and originally said she would have no problem waiting until we started getting paid to move in together. She wanted to move rather quickly after what happened in my original room and I don’t blame her. Due to finances I couldn’t just up and move, especially with the high prices and deposits you needed to have at your disposal to move into an apartment. I am not sure if her new friends also influenced her because she pretty much gradually dumped me as a friend. So anyway we found our own places and honestly it worked out to be the better for me in the end.

So while in the new room I never saw anymore roaches. My mom had to leave to go home to NY and I had to now focus on my new job, finding a place to live and getting acquainted with Hong Kong which I will write about soon so stay tuned!

To be continued……

I truly believe that the best way for people to understand, respect and appreciate one another is to learn about each others cultural differences through experiences.

Here are some photos from my first few weeks in Hong Kong

Also updated this week: CV and Then & Now

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New Beginnings

Last summer I made the choice to shut my blog down. I had successfully completed my traineeship at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography, Bolshoi Ballet Academy and I was moving abroad to begin working in Hong Kong. I wanted to focus on the transition. I regret that decision now as I realize blogs are a great way to share your experiences and lessons of life, career, etc…with others. Your experiences may help others in similar situations and so I have decided to make my blog live again in hopes that someone reading about my journey on to becoming a professional ballet dancer can benefit or learn from my advice, actions, reactions, experiences, etc… I thought about removing my old posts but then decided not to as they, although somewhat sloppy, reflect the honest writing of a young, naive, somewhat gullible girl who had a lot to still learn. I am still that same girl and I still have a lot to learn and experience however the only difference now is that I think I grew up a little bit over the past year living in Hong Kong and I learned life is not as easy as a young adult might think. I decided to start writing again to share my journey so that other young girls might benefit from it. Although my plan is to focus mainly on my ballet journey I also plan to include tips, advice, articles, pictures, and videos on everything ballet related, as well as advice on traveling alone overseas, transitioning from a student to professional, dealing with the realities of real life such as loneliness, friendship in and out of the workplace and whatever else comes to mind.

Now my blog, which is a work in progress, is back in business. I am working on redesigning the blog and I am hoping to include the occasional video blog too. So stay tuned to read about my year in Hong Kong and to follow my ballet journey. A journey of laughter and tears, disappointments and achievements, new friendships, and hopefully many more exciting experiences.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the past few years. I am forever grateful ❤

Nicole xx

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.”

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

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 :**

Love, Nicole xoxo

Fresh Start 2014! Audition Season is here!!!!

Happy New Year everyone!!! I hope everyone had a great holiday. I am back at the Bolshoi Academy after a nice 3 week break. I was originally going to stay in Russia at the Academy for the entire holiday break because it was too expensive to travel back to NY and I have to save money to travel to auditions but then my love Diego decided to take me to Italy to celebrate the holidays with him and his family. So I went to Italy and spent two amazing weeks with my boy and his family. It was so nice to just spend time with him because I Italy 1hadn’t seen him in about 5 months. I had the full Italian Christmas experience. I also brought the New Year in with Diego which was very special. I had so much fun and I ate so much amazing Italian food. I toured a little bit of Italy. Diego and his friends took me to this amazing Ancient Roman City.  It was just beautiful. As a young girl, I would watch movies filmed in Italy and it was always a dream of mine to go there. Thanks to the kindness and generosity of my love and his family I was able to visit and see a little bit of Italy. I hope to return someday and visit Rome, Venice and other parts of this county so rich in history. It is truly a beautiful country and the people are so warm, friendly and welcoming. Italy 7

Italy 6Italy 3Italy 5Italy 8

After the nice break I feel much better and refreshed to start the New Year and finish my traineeship here. Classes started back up at the Academy this past Monday. The first day was rough. I am very sore! Each day will get easier though as I adjust back into a set schedule.

So onto other news….Job audition season is here!!! ahhh I’m so excited but nervous. Some of you might ask how does audition season work? Well typically companies post auditions and you are required to apply. So I have begun applying. Most ballet dancers won’t tell you where they are applying. I don’t know what the big secret is. I don’t mind sharing my audition experience. In most cases auditions in Europe are by invitation only and I have had to send the company my CV, a headshot and some ballet photos. I have applied and I have had much success! So far I am invited to audition (all by invite only) at the Het National Ballet in Amsterdam, Zurich Jr. Company in Switzerland, The Bavarian State Ballet in Munich, Germany, Dresden SemperOper Ballett and Staatsoper Hannover Ballet both also in Germany. Today I was very happy to receive another invite to audition at the StattsBallett Berlin which one of my favorite companies! Its next weekend so I don’t know if I will be able to go for financial reasons 😦

My first two auditions are this weekend! I will travel on Friday to Amsterdam for the Het National Ballet Audition which is on Saturday. Then literally right after that audition I will board a plane for Munich to attend the audition there on Sunday. I am a nervous wreck! I will be traveling all alone. I am not a very good traveler. I always have panic attacks because airports are too crazy for me and I have such bad luck with them. I am always getting lost. To make matters worse this time I have to take the train in Russia to get to the airport, which I have never done before either! I’m so scared but I have to save money where I can and since the train is only one third the cost of a taxi I have to take a chance a try it. Once I arrive in Amsterdam a nice boy who is a student at Het National Ballet School has offered to pick me up from the airport, show me how to travel to my hotel by train and then after I check into my hotel we are going to hang out and he is going to show me around Amsterdam on Friday night. Then Saturday I will attend the audition and jet off right after the audition to Munich. I’m so grateful to him. It’s such a relief. I wish I knew someone in Munich to do the same lol. Like I said I am a little nervous because I do not know where I am really going but at least people speak English in both countries. I hope these auditions go well. I’m going with an open mind and no matter what happens I will look at these auditions as learning experiences if nothing else comes from them. As of now these are the only 2 auditions I can definitely attend due to financial reasons. I had to pass up the audition in Zurich last week because it was just too expensive. With the exception of the Berlin audition, which is next week and I just found out about an hour ago that I was invited, I have a few weeks to save for the other auditions so I’m trying my best. Also once more companies post audition notices I will apply and hopefully they will be later in the season so I have more money saved to attend.

The life of a ballet dancer is a struggle. Every day I work so hard, and never feel good enough. Living in Russia makes it even harder. Since being here I struggle with my weight, I’m still trying to get to my goal weight but it seems impossible here. The food the academy serves a not healthy and there’s no fitness equipment. It’s too cold to go out running. My self-esteem is shot from the constant rejection here at the Academy. I also miss my family terribly. I am 19 and at the point in my life where I just want to get to the next level and have a job, support myself and know where I am going to be. Please cross your fingers for me as I begin the audition process. I need luck now more than ever.

Check back next week for a picture blog from my adventures in Amsterdam and Munich!

I just want to thank the lovely Buttiglione Family for having me in their home for the holidays. I also want to thank everyone who has supported me. I wouldn’t be where I am today without the love and support from everyone. I hope you all have a very happy, healthy, wealthy, peaceful, blessed successful new year!


Buttiglione Family and Friends

Love, Nicole xoxo

Start of the school year, performing at the Kremlin and more!

Hey everyone! I am so sorry I haven’t blogged sooner! It has been a very busy couple of months for me. I’m back in Moscow. First I want to thank my sponsor because without him I wouldn’t be here. He is an angel! I feel so truly blessed for the opportunity to complete my traineeship this June here at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy thanks to his support and the support of my mom. Let me tell you time is flying by already!

I came back to the Bolshoi Academy on August 31st. It took some time to truly feel settled in. I am going to complete the 3rd and final year of my traineeship in June 2014 and I am so glad I have the opportunity to be part of the Russian course this year. To be placed in this class with the fellow Russian girls who have trained here for many years has been such an honor and privilege. I am excited but I am also nervous because the first 2 months have very hard already. Wish me luck!

So there are a few changes this year. My roommates from last year decided not to return this year so now I have two great new roommates Remy and Alex. These girls are very focused like me and we have really bonded.

A few days after we arrived back to the Academy the school held its opening day ceremony in the school theater. At the ceremony, on the imagestage, each third course graduating student hands a pair of pointe shoes and flat shoes to one of the new incoming little kids who are just starting their school career. It was a very special ceremony and I felt so proud and honored to be part of this tradition.

That day after the ceremony everyone had off from their classes expect for my class. My teacher didn’t waste any time. I have been in class all day, every day since. This year is a little different. We take ballet class on stage so that we are prepared for our final exams which will take place on the stage, in the theater. We started working on our duet exam, as well as our character and acting exam. In acting we must choose a piece to act out. I will tell you more about that in my next blog post.image

image     The past 2 months have been very busy. On top of my daily ballet classes I have also been in rehearsals every night. So far I was given the opportunity to perform 4 times this year, in 3 different pieces. In the first performance, which was a school performance for a charity, my class performed our usual Seganski piece. This was a familiar character piece for us as we performed this last year. The Academy started new rep this year. The school is doing The Waltz from Sleeping Beauty. After rehearsing for 3 weeks, at the costume fitting, I was told that my body isn’t the right fit for the piece because I have a chest and they took me out. Like in the 240 yrs the school has existed they never had a ballet dancer with a chest? I was very upset but I just acted professional and went about my business. Then a few  weeks passed and I was called back to rehearsals and put back into the Waltz. I didn’t ask why, I just went with it. I am not going to lie I was so happy. You have to take every little opportunity to perform here as an international student since all major performing opportunities go to the Russian students, even if the international students are stronger dancers. It is all politics here. Anyway I was also placed in a new character piece called Rhapsody as well. We  performed on Nov. 1st at the school theater and then on November 6th and 7th we performed both new pieces at the Kremlin Palace Theater for the Bolshoi Ballet Academy 240th Anniversary celebration. Our school invited the other top ballet schools from around the world to perform with us. We had the privilege of performing with students from The Vaganova Academy, imageHamburg Ballet School, Theatre Opera Rome, La Scala, the JKO school and more. Most of the schools performed contemporary/neo classical pieces. It was nice to meet other students from around the world as well as a few school directors. The performance on the 7th included famous professionals which was nice. To dance on the Kremlin stage was an honor and an amazing experience that I will treasure forever. The theater seats 6000 people and it was  almost full. It isn’t the Bolshoi Theatre but it was my first time performing on a stage, here in Russia, and somewhere other than the school theater stage. I am thankful and grateful that I did get to perform in the corp of both a classical ballet piece and a character piece and I am proud that I was able to represent the Bolshoi Academy in this gala event. I hope to perform more before my time at the Academy comes to an end.image


So right now I am tired. We had a nice 3 day weekend off to rest our heads and bodies after the Kremlin performances. I needed the break because my foot has been hurting lately and my body was very tired. Now we are back to class. I am working harder and harder in class. Right now my hardest class is duet because my teacher is on me all the time and it’s tough. Sometimes I just want to cry but I have to stay strong.

I will be spending the next few months of my time of resting my body, staying in shape, watching movies to fill the long cold days, and most importantly looking for jobs. I have a lot of preparation to do for audition season which will be here soon. I am really excited to get life started. Auditioning will be hard for me given I will have to travel and I am not sure how much traveling I can afford to do in order to audition for a job. Hopefully I can find the money to at  least audition for a few companies. Please pray for me!!! I wish I could just know where I will be next year, if anywhere, so that I can focus on my exams which are in 5 months. I am a little nervous for my exams and I am pretty sure my teacher is nervous for us too. We haven’t started preparing and we missed two weeks of our practice time  on stage because of the rehearsals for the Kremlin show. My teacher has told us it is time to focus! No staying up late, no boys, no goofing off, etc… So the next few months I will focus hardcore.

I just want to thank everyone who supported me over the past year. Your support and words of encouragement have meant so much to me. I am looking forward to whatever comes my way next. Stay tuned for more…my next blog post won’t take 2 months! I promise!

Love, Nicole xoxo

If you would like to donate to help get me to auditions please click below. I am forever grateful ❤