Update – Henry Perkins in Moscow

henryperkinsmoscowHenry standing outside the entrance to Red Square, June 2009

Henry Perkins, the dancer who received a bursary from the LWSF sponsors has just finished his third year at The Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow.

The time has flown by and it only seems like only yesterday that Henry went to Moscow for the start of the final phase of his ballet training. He now has one more year to complete at the Academy and will graduate in June 2010. As the first British boy to join the Academy left two years ago, Henry will now make history by being the first British and European dancer to graduate from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in its 235 year history. Henry has shown it is possible to survive in a new culture and to re-orientate one’s ballet training – in September 2009 two British 16 year olds are following in his footsteps and will be joining the Academy for a three year training course. Henry is looking forward to welcoming them at the Academy and to helping them settle in and get acquainted with ‘life in Russia’. He has already been advising them through email and all three families will meet up for the opening ceremony at the start of the new academic year.

The last academic year has been the ‘take off’ year for Henry, now that he has got used to Russian culture, the Russian style of ballet training and has learned to speak the language (he was recently stopped in the street for his papers by a Russian police man who quizzed him on why he was in possession of a British passport – when Henry said he was British, the policeman said he spoke Russian like a Russian and did not seem to be British!). Henry finished the year with the highest set of results ever for a non-Russian student at the Academy. As you can see in the transcript of his grades later in this update, he has mostly “5’s”. A “5” is the top grade possible. In fact, Henry actually achieved three “5+” grades which is above full marks but the “+” is just recorded on the students personal record book and is not printed on the transcript. One of the “5+” grades was for Russian National Dance where Henry actually achieved a score higher than all of the Russian boys in his year who had been studying this form of dance since they were small children! Henry was also one of the top three boys in the year group for Pas de Deux.

Henry can be seen dancing in the Russian National Dance exam in the YouTube videos at the end of this post.

At the end of last year, Yuri Grigorovich returned to The Bolshoi Company at the age of 80 – he was the director of the company for thirty years during Communist times and then went to the USA when the political administration changed in Russia at the end of the last century. He is widely held to be the greatest living ballet choreographer. Mr Grigorovich is making a number of changes at the Academy too in order to raise the standard of the graduating students. He has recently re-choreographed a ballet called La Fille Mal Gardee and it will be premiered in November on the Bolshoi stage in Moscow by next year’s graduating students. Henry has been given a soloist part in this ballet. After the Moscow premiere, the ballet will go on a world tour and just before Henry left Russia for the summer, he heard that 16 performances in Greece had already been confirmed.

As a result of Henry’s exceptional end-of-year grades, the Academy took him to New York at the end of June for three weeks to demonstrate for them on a summer school they organise for American ballet students. He also helped to translate the more technical ballet terms for the Russian teachers teaching the American students – in the past they have had to rely solely on locally employed translators who do not know the finer subtleties of ‘ballet language’. Henry returned to the UK on 19th July and had just one week at home before flying off to Prague for two weeks to take masterclasses with some of the world’s leading dancers and choreographers, including Julio Bocca from Argentina. When Mr Bocca retired from dancing a few years back, an open-air stage had to be built in Buenos Aires for his final performance which took place in front of a crowd of 300 000 fans from around the world! The two weeks in Prague should be an inspirational experience for Henry.

The new school term normally starts on 1st September every year and even though this is still the official start date, Henry is summonsed back to Moscow early to get ‘back into shape’ before rehearsals for the premiere start on 1st. He has to go back on 20th August this year and so will just get another 10 days in the UK when he returns from Prague. Time for a well-earned break and to catch up with friends here who he has not seen for a while. We do not actually expect to see him back here again until he graduates – the world tour of the premiere together with The Nutcracker performances in Moscow during the winter months will keep very busy in Russia.

henryperkins-pasdedeuxHenry in Pas de Deux class in Prague, August 2009

Once again, we would like to thank all Henry’s sponsors without whose help and generosity his training in Russia at the Bolshoi Academy would not be possible. When firm dates/locations of any performances outside of Russia next year are known, we will let everyone know.

Henry in the Contemporary exam:


Character Dance: