Thursday, April 24, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
99 CENTS

Davis ballerina heads for the Bolshoi

By
From page A1 | October 03, 2012 | 2 Comments

Rose Vermazen, 15, of Davis, who will study this year with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow, demonstrates a sous-sous position. Fred Gladdis/Enterprise photo

Rose Vermazen stands en pointe, balancing perfectly on the tips of her ballet shoes.

How long can she stand like that?

“Until I want to go down,” she says, matter-of-factly.

Her dogged push for excellence has paid off. On Sunday, Rose officially began life as a student at the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow.

Like many, the 15-year-old Davis resident began her dancing career in a children’s ballet class. Unlike the rest of the kids, however, Rose was serious, practicing the steps without breaking into laughter or goofing around.

She also was fast falling in love with ballet. And, almost as quickly, she zeroed in on attending the Bolshoi Academy, drawn to the academy’s reputation as one of the oldest and most prestigious ballet schools in the world.

“Nobody’s perfect, but they really have produced nearly perfect dancers,” Rose said.

Rose would spend time watching YouTube videos, admiring the traditions and distinctive style of ballet for which Russia, and the Bolshoi in particular, is known.

“What (the teachers) learned, they’re teaching you. It’s directly from the source,” Rose said. “It’s just pure classical ballet.”

Not that it’s been an easy journey.

“It has been a process,” said Heather Vermazen, Rose’s mother. “When she was 9 and announced she wanted to go to Russia to dance, we said, ‘Are you kidding?’ ”

But Rose set to work, training with various teachers, many of them Russian. She auditioned — and earned — a spot in the Bolshoi Summer Intensive in 2009. Financial constraints kept her from attending the summer program in 2010, but Rose returned to dance in 2011 and this past summer.

Teachers took notice of Rose’s training, but also her natural form: Rose has the leg hyperextension and high foot arches highly favored in ballerinas, along with a natural 180-degree “turnout,” or the ability to place her feet ankle-to-ankle in a straight line.

At the end of each summer, Rose received a report from her teachers. The reports typically carry a brief positive remark and a long list of how to improve.

“For Rose, it was ‘You have the makings of a true ballerina.’ So, at 15, they just see clay to work with,” Heather said. “The biggest thing at this age is that she has the physical ability to do things and the desire to do things, and those combined are talent.”

After the close of each program, a select handful of the roughly 200 program attendees receive invitations to enroll in the Bolshoi Academy.

“I’ve wanted it for so long, and I always thought maybe it would happen,” Rose said.

But all of her hard work didn’t prepare her for the day she finally received her invitation.

“It was the greatest feeling in the world,” Rose said.

Rose hopes to complete three years in the Bolshoi program, auditioning at the end of each year. She calls it “AP testing for dance,” though a low score comes with a consequence a bit more drastic than an irate parent: a too-low score, and a dancer could lose her spot in the school.

Rose remains unconcerned, even at the thought of dancing with some of the world’s best ballet students, each one trying to succeed and perhaps one day dance in the professional Bolshoi Ballet.

“I’m a pretty strong-willed person myself,” Rose said. “It’s not about competing against other students, it’s about achieving perfection and the ideal dancer.”

But all dreams have a price.

“Training is very expensive,” Rose said. “There’s no way to fund it.”

Russian students benefit from subsidized tuition, and students from other countries receive financial aid or other benefits, such as free flights, to make attending the school more affordable. However, the United States does not offer financial aid.

“It’s the burden of families to fund,” Heather said.

Her family has turned to Youth Arts in Action, a nonprofit organization that helps fund American dancers through its Americans at the Bolshoi donation site. Donors can read a short bio on the five dancers participating in the program online, and then decide to whom and how much they will give. Visit www.youthartsinaction.org/AmericansAtTheBolshoi.aspx.

The Bolshoi Academy also demands absolute commitment.

In addition to five dance classes a day, six days a week, dancers must take academic classes. (Rose has been homeschooled in Davis.) Foreign students also must study the Russian language. Students receive one break during the winter of their first and second years, but no break during their third year.

“I love my family, but I don’t get homesick,” Rose said. “I know I’ll be so focused, I won’t have time to think about it.”

Not only must foreign students leave behind their families to travel to Moscow, they also must adapt to a different language and culture.

“I’m trying to go in with no expectations,” Rose said. “My Russian teachers just told me to go in with a blank slate, and look at it with a Russian point of view.”

Rose hopes her experiences with her Russian teachers will help her deal with the culture shock, particularly the notoriously critical Russian teaching style.

“I’ve always loved it, because they can yell at you and correct you, but it comes from love,” Rose said. “They correct you, but it’s because they want you to become better.”

“(Rose’s teachers) have all given her a list of advice, both dancing advice and social advice,” Heather said.

A small community has grown among the group of parents who have children attending the Bolshoi Academy. One family has several sons enrolled in the school, and the mother “lives across from the Bolshoi in a little apartment,” according to Heather. She’s agreed to check in with Rose, and help her to make the transition from America to Russia.

“She’s catching Rose on the other end,” Heather said.

Despite the miles that will be between her and her daughter, Heather is confident that Rose will be able to handle being by herself.

“She’s proved to us over the years that she’s responsible,” Heather said. “She can handle being in the city.”

However, that doesn’t make sending her child to a foreign country any less hard.

“There are other adults in her life, telling her mom and dad this is what she needs to do,” Heather said.

Rose hopes to graduate from the academy and become part of the Bolshoi Company, the professional company that takes most of its dancers from the school. But for now, she’s satisfied with being able to take the opportunity to study ballet with the best.

“I’m so happy when I can express myself in my dance,” she said.

— Reach Anna Sturla at asturla@davisenterprise.net

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 2 comments

The Davis Enterprise does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Teresa Khan MacKayOctober 03, 2012 - 12:27 am

    Bravo to Rose! Youth Arts In Action wishes her every success in Moscow at the Bolshoi!

    Reply | Report abusive comment
  • Wendy NeiswongerOctober 03, 2012 - 1:50 am

    Great pictures, best wishes and you're going to do really well.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

News

 
4-H members get ready for Spring Show

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Will city move forward on public power review?

By Dave Ryan | From Page: A1

Attorneys at odds over Woodland infant’s death

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A1

 
Obama to Russia: More sanctions are ‘teed up’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 3 Comments

 
2 pursuits, 2 arrests keep Woodland officers busy

By Lauren Keene | From Page: A2

 
 
Youth sports in focus on radio program

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Rummage sale will benefit preschool

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Concert benefits South Korea exchange

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

 
Conference puts focus on Arab studies

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A4

Davis honors ‘green’ citizens

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
Water rate assistance bill advances

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Program explores STEM careers for girls

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5, 5 Comments

 
Embroiderers plan a hands-on project

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Central Park Gardens to host Volunteer Orientation Day

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Volkssporting Club plans North Davis walks

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

Hotel/conference center info meeting set

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A5

 
MOMS Club plans open house

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A7

 
Cycle de Mayo benefits Center for Families

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A8

Author to read ‘The Cat Who Chose to Dream’

By Anne Ternus-Bellamy | From Page: A12

 
.

Forum

Things are turning sour

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: B5

 
The high cost of employment

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

High-five to Union Bank

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Broken sprinklers waste water

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Three more administrators?

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Neustadt has experience for the job

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Here’s a plan to save big on employee costs

By Special to The Enterprise | From Page: A6, 4 Comments

 
Davis is fair, thoughtful

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

Ortiz is the right choice for Yolo

By Letters to the Editor | From Page: A6

 
Tom Meyer cartoon

By Debbie Davis | From Page: A6

.

Sports

DHS tracksters sweep another DVC meet

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Another DVC blowout for DHS girls soccer

By Evan Ream | From Page: B1, 2 Comments | Gallery

Young reinvents his game to help Aggies improve on the diamond

By Bruce Gallaudet | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
DHS boys shuffle the deck to beat Cards

By Thomas Oide | From Page: B1 | Gallery

DHS/Franklin II is a close loss for Devil softballers

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B1

 
Baseball roundup: Giants slam Rockies in the 11th

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
UCD roundup: Aggies lose a softball game at Pacific

By Enterprise staff | From Page: B3

 
Jahn jumps to Sacramento Republic FC

By Evan Ream | From Page: B8

.

Features

.

Arts

Congressional art competition open to high school students

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Emerson, Da Vinci to present ‘Once Upon a Mattress’

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Winters Plein Air Festival begins Friday

By Enterprise staff | From Page: A11

 
Bach Soloists wrap up season on April 28

By Jeff Hudson | From Page: A11

 
.

Business

.

Obituaries

.

Comics

Comics: Thursday, April 24, 2014

By Creator | From Page: B6