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Question from viewer: Ilya, do you think that having your own ballet school is a step back in your career?

I think they mean a step back in my career as a teacher...

If I'm being completely honest, when I left my post as a teacher in the Bolshoi Ballet Academy,

I was very worried

because I did believe that I was taking a step back.

It was a little scary for me.

Later, when I started working in the Vaganova Ballet Academy,

I realized and understood how many opportunities

are opening up in front of me.

But as you see, they asked me about my ballet studio, not about working in Vaganova Ballet Academy.

Just to clarify, my ballet studio was already open while I was still working

in the Moscow State Academy of Choreography, also known as the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

For me, working in my ballet studio

is not a step back at all, it's actually a step in mastering my profession.

It's one thing to work in a professional ballet academy

when you have a class of boys, who have each been hand selected

to be in ballet.

That means that they all have natural facilities and capabilities

to be able to successfully perform any movement in ballet.

In the lesson, you are not really teaching them ballet as much as you are disciplining them.

You are motivating them and fooling them to an extent,

saying that we have big dreams and goals ahead of us and we will reach them without a doubt.

But to work in a ballet studio, it's a huge step in my career, it's a huge step up.

I have people coming to me who are absolutely incapable

who all have their own complex problems.

Their age, their physical capabilities and issues, some even with illnesses.

Everyone is so unique, and some how or other, I have to make sure that they start to do things well.

Here we have a problem, because the first thing that comes to mind is the imagination, the fantasy of

The ballerina. She's slender, young. She's delicate, ethereal, and airy.

And then there's us ordinary people who have problems with their hips and stomach

and who love to eat sweets.

The biggest problem for adults

is that they have to stop paying attention to their physical appearance

and pay more attention to the elasticity and musicality of the movements

the lines and the body have to be one with the music.

The second thing is that we have to see adult dancers "succeed" in what they do.

What does "succeeding" mean in ballet?

In ballet, "succeeding" means stability in the center of the class.

When adult dancers perform certain poses, especially on one leg,

most people lose their balance right away.

And when you're in the center of the class during the lesson and you fall constantly,

there isn't any discussion about whether or not you are "succeeding".

My task is to take anyone and make sure that they are doing everything successfully.

In terms of my career as a teacher, does this help me or not?

My ballet studio allows me to use

absolutely phenomenal methods.

My ballet studio helped me to develop the eye of a radiologist.

I don't see what leotards students have, skirts, or brands

or if the person wearing makeup or not.

I see their bones and look if they are being held in the right position or not,

are the bones moving the right way or not.

If I would only work with talented and physically capable children,

I would not have been able to get that experience.

If I were to return right now to a professional academy,

I'm confident I would be able to produce amazing results

because I know how to motivate and I know how to reach the result that is needed.

The most important thing is that I acquired

these methods and these techniques

that help to bring children to their goals.

To answer the question,

regardless of whether or not this knowledge will ever be needed,

I can't look at having my own ballet studio as a "step back"

Having a ballet studio to me is like a school, where I acquired new methods and techniques of teaching.

And the second question...

Were the boys in ballet school jealous of Nikolai Tsiskaridze?

In ballet school, not everyone is perfectly capable physically.

There are kids like Tsiskaridze...

And then there are kids like me, for example.

Someone probably was jealous, yes.

Personally, I don't know the word jealousy, the concept is foreign to me.

When I see that I have a goal in front of me,

I put all of my effort in to try and reach that goal.

Either I like that goal and am fanatic about it or I don't

but I never experienced the feeling of jealousy.

I've read about jealousy in books, I've seen it in movies, but I could never understand the concept of it.

Judging by the other boys' reaction to Tsiskaridze

yes, I could see that they were jealous.

But they were more jealous of his physical attributes

this natural and phenomenal capability for ballet.

not of Tsiskaridze the person.

He was so interesting because he always read more than we did, he knew more than we did,

that was probably a little upsetting!

I really don't remember much of my childhood,

but it was always interesting to be with him.

For me, the best one in the class is always the best motivation for the next goal.

I was used to seeing someone in class that is better than me.

And it's more comfortable to work that way,

to see someone better than me that I can try to catch up to.

I remember this awful moment in my life when I came to a new company

I won't say where it was, but I ended up being the best one there.

I was standing in ballet class and there was no one to look up to.

I loved looking up to Kolya in the class,

to Nikolai Maksimovitch Tsiskaridze.

Back then he was just Kolya.

Sometimes we even called him funny nicknames, like Tsitsa.

It was so convenient to stand next to him in the class

Because he moves amazingly.

He's an amazing example.

When you don't have coordination yourself,

how do you move? Who do you look up to?

When someone next to you in class moves better than you,

it's always good to follow after them.

My students in our ballet studio know this very well.