With her pointe shoes in tow, ballerina Aubrey Kendler recently took a 19-hour plane trip to Moscow to study at the Bolshoi’s Ballet Academy.
The 16-year-old junior at Oak Ridge High School will be there until June, training with one of the premier classical ballet companies in the world.
Kendler said the opportunity to train with the Bolshoi was the result of an intensive training program run by the Bolshoi’s Ballet Academy that she attended last summer in New York. At the end of the program, she was evaluated and was ecstatic when they extended her an invitation to participate in the year-round program in Moscow.
The talented Placerville youth said she has been taking ballet since she was 12 but didn’t get serious until a couple of years ago — around the same time she attended a different summer intensive run by the Gelsey Kirkland Academy of Classical Ballet. Kirkland is a world renown American ballerina.
Kendler said she got into ballet after being a gymnast from age 4 to 11. She competed nationally in artistic gymnastics at level 8, which is Elite-advanced.
Wanting to continue in a sport, but also wanting to dance, she tried ballet and found her passion.
“I just love dancing. It takes you away from your troubles in life. It’s a lot of work, but it’s worth it,” she said noting that she practices five to six days a week, three to four hours a day.
She is especially grateful to all the teachers she has had. “Each has contributed to where I am today,” she said, “along with, of course, my mom.”
Going for it
Kendler’s mother, Cyndii Cusano, is also very grateful to Aubrey’s teachers who have helped her daughter develop as a ballerina.
Owner of Sierra Ballet, the Placerville dance studio where Aubrey practices, Cusano said the facility is named after Aubrey whose middle name is Sierra. She said the studio was built for people who have the same passion as her daughter and to help keep the arts alive.
“I always wanted to do something as a kid but didn’t have the opportunity,” said Cusano. “So I wanted to make that opportunity for my own child.
“My daughter is a straight A student and has worked so hard. I wanted her to go for it because it’s not just a great chance to dance but to immerse yourself in a different culture. It was a no brainer. We had to make it happen.”
At the Bolshoi
Kendler said while at the Bolshoi’s Ballet Academy, she will have classes six days a week from 8 or 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day. Sundays she will have off and on that day she hopes to see a little of Russia.
Instruction will include technique, pointe class, variations class, intense stretch class, character dancing, a little contemporary dancing, maybe pas de deux classes, as well classes in Russian.
She said all instruction will be in Russian, so she has been taking online classes from Brigham Young University to learn enough Russian to get by.
The cost of the program is $5,200, which includes food, dorm and instruction. The academy contains everything in one building including the dorm, dance studio and dining hall. Kendler said she expects 10-15 people to be in her class with students coming from all over the world.
The teen said after she gets back, she hopes to continue doing training with the Bolshoi and plans to go back for two more years, six months at a time.
She said she chose the Bolshoi because in her eyes, “The Bolshoi is the dream company. They have some of the best dancers in the world and have produced some of the best dancers in the world.”
Apparently striving to be the very best, Kendler is planning to join them.