Bolshoi Theater School in Brazil: an institution that unites art with social responsibility

The Bolshoi Theater School in Brazil, the only affiliate of the Bolshoi Theater of Moscow, was founded in 2000 with the intuition of creating a professional and socially responsible environment. The Bolshoi Brazil embraces the discipline and level of perfection in applying the Vaganova method in the same way as the one used in Moscow. After eight years of studies the students graduate as professional dancers. The institution is located in the state of Santa Catarina, in the city of Joinville, which has a rich tradition in dance and for hosting the biggest festival of the genre in Latin America.

Currently, around 230 students attend the institution. The majority of students come from lower income families (more than 2/3). These students, who otherwise would be unable to pay for their ballet studies, receive free tuition, uniforms and food, in addition to transport, medical emergency treatment, preventive dentistry and physiotherapy among other benefits. The students undergo a selection process which is conducted every year in public schools. Anyone from Brazil or abroad is free to participate in the selection, with the number of candidates reaching up to 96 vying for one place. Those passing the selection are immediately immersed in a strict routine of 4.5 hours of classes and rehearsals per day, five days a week. The classical dance classes only represent a part of the program; several other subjects are included in the course, such as: Character Dance; Contemporary Dance; Popular Historical Dance; Duet and History of Dance; Musical and Rhythmic Education; Brazilian Folklore; Specific Gymnastics; History of Art; Musical Literature; Piano; Drama; Repertoire and Theater.

The practice of dance is normally thought of as being female dominated but at the Bolshoi Brazil it is equally popular with male students, with 44% being male. The School is more than just an institution offering a dance education of the highest standard it is also a project of social orientation aimed at taking children and adolescents out of the vicious circle of underprivileged regions. The mission of the School is to educate citizen artists. Over the course of twelve years, the Bolshoi Brazil has reached those who had never even dreamt of becoming involved with the art. The aim is to provide an opportunity, creating members of society, who, in turn, become financially independent and socially responsible.

Considered one of the best ballet schools in Brazil, the institution takes pride in the employability of its diplomats. Each year the best dance companies from Brazil and around the world hire many of these talents on concluding their studies at the Bolshoi Brazil. Of the dancers graduating from the institution, 68% have been hired by such entities as the Bolshoi Theater of Moscow; Mariinsky Ballet; Staatsballett Berlin; New York City Ballet; Kazan Opera and Ballet Theatre; Ballet Nacional Sodre; São Paulo Dance Company; Grupo Corpo; among others.

Each year the students are involved in new productions of the great classical and contemporary ballets. In twenty one years of activities, more than 800 performances have been staged by the institution and enjoyed by more than 900 thousand spectators. Ballets such as “Giselle”, “Don Quixote”, “Raymonda”, “Nutcracker” and excerpts from many others, both classical and contemporary, are part of the repertoire. Seven countries and twenty six Brazilian states have been graced by these performances.

Many renowned choreographers from Brazil and abroad such as Vladimir Vasiliev, Philippe Trehet, Alex Neoral, Clébio de Oliveira, Henrique Talmah, Jomar Mesquita, Luiz Fernando Bongiovanni, Sergio Lobato, Cassi Abranches and Tíndaro Silvano have assembled choreographies and productions. World famous principal dancers such as Natalia Osipova, Ivan Vasiliev, Andrei Bolotin, Marianna Ryzhkina, Andrei Uvarov and many others often participate in the School’s productions, giving young dancers the chance to learn and be inspired.

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