(Anna Galayda’s article appeared in Russia Beyond the Headlines, 7/7; Photo: Olga Kereluk.)


Young dancers from other countries frequently come to study at Russia’s prestigious ballet schools, but some stay afterwards and have gone on to become lead performers at Russian theater companies—and what’s more, not just in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
1. May Nagahisa, Japan 

May Nagahisa was recently promoted to first soloist at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. In the ballet hierarchy, this is just one step from the very top—the title of a principal. For a dancer at one of the world’s leading theaters, this is a meteoric rise. Nagahisa made her debut at the Mariinsky at the age of 15, which is extremely rare and essentially unprecedented for a foreigner. At the time, May was a student at the famous Princess Grace Academy in Monaco, having won a spot there thanks to the Youth America Grand Prix competition. It was almost as if fate itself was leading her to Jean-Christophe Maillot’s famous Monte Carlo Ballet, but Maillot recognized that Nagahisa’s potential in classical ballet was much greater and broader than what was required for his productions and released her into the big world.

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