A growing number of American ballet students hope to someday dance at the Bolshoi in Moscow.© RIA Novosti.
WASHINGTON, June 4 (RIA Novosti) – Fifteen ballet students from across the United States will pirouette, jeté and plié their way to Moscow this summer to train with masters of the famed Bolshoi Ballet Academy after winning prestigious language scholarships, organizers announced this week.
“As soon as I opened the email I started jumping up and down and then I called my parents and we started screaming and laughing. It was pretty exciting,” said 16-year-old Maire New of Juneau, Alaska, one of the students selected for the Moscow Summer Intensive, as the program is known.
Students chosen for the Bolshoi training must first audition and be picked for the Russian American Foundation’s 2013 New York Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive, which brings Bolshoi instructors to New York to work with American students for the summer.
More than 1,000 hopefuls from around the United States audition each year for a slot in the New York Bolshoi program. And only those selected for New York are eligible to apply for training with the Bolshoi Academy at its home venue in Moscow as part of the National Security Language Initiative for Youth (NSLI-Y) program.
Launched by the US State Department in 2006, NSLI-Y is an effort to encourage American students to study Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, Hindi, Korean, Persian, Russian, and Turkish languages. It’s also part of a strategy to develop a group of Americans with advanced linguistic skills and cultural awareness who can communicate with people in key parts of the world.
“These are languages that are not commonly taught in the US and are also spoken in countries where we hope to improve relations,” said Eva Crawford, spokeswoman for AFS-USA, a nonprofit international exchange organization and one of several groups that facilitate the annual NSLI-Y summer programs.
More than 600 US students will travel to places like Jordan, Egypt, China, India, South Korea, Tajikistan and Turkey this summer, including 90 who will go to Russia. Most of them will stay with host families and have language classes for 20 hours each week for up to eight weeks.
“American young people today are genuinely interested in Russia,” said Dan Davidson, president of the American Councils for International Education, another group that helps to facilitate the NSLI-Y programs.
But while hundreds of US students will be sent to dozens of countries under the study program, the opportunity to combine Russian language training with ballet instruction with the Bolshoi in Moscow represents a unique prize, participants say.
“It’s a really amazing opportunity, and I’m planning to give a slideshow in my town when I return because there are a lot of misconceptions out there and I think it’s really important for there to be a better understanding between the people of these two countries,” said New.
In addition to their language classes, the 15 students chosen for the Moscow Summer Intensive will also receive an additional 20 hours of ballet instruction at the Bolshoi Academy each week.
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