Brits at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy

Tala Lee-Turton Bolshoi Ballet Academy
My graduating class.

First published 08/03/2014 – last updated – 02/01/2017.

In 2012, I became the 11th Brit to train formally at the Bolshoi.  I was often asked about my fellow-Brit predecessors.  Here is the list as I understand it. If you know of any other Brits that I’ve missed out, or if you know of any other information I should add, then please get in touch and I’ll update the blog as I find out more.  If you’d like to read my top tips for international students thinking of training at the Academy then read this post here.

The first Brit at the Bolshoi Bolshoi Ballet Academy was Ann Stone. She commenced a five year training programme in 1959 at the age of 14.  Ann wasn’t able to complete her training due to injury.

Next was Linda Goss who started training at the Bolshoi , aged 13, in the 1960s but due to injury went into the teacher training course.  She graduated on the teacher training course, aged 19, and she still teaches today.

It’s also worth mentioning Richard Collins, at this point.  He travelled to Moscow to train with and work for the actual Bolshoi Ballet Company for four years from 1968.  As, strictly speaking, he didn’t actually train at the Academy (he started ballet training late at the Royal Ballet Upper School) I haven’t included him in the numbers.  He wrote a really interesting book on his experience- Behind the Bolshoi Curtain.

Graduation day.
Graduation day.

Quite a while after Ann and Linda trail-blazed the way, Ralph Pickering joined the Academy in 2004 until 2007. Ralph unfortunately gave up dancing due to injury.  Next was Henry Perkins who started at the Academy in 2006. The BBC made a documentary about Henry’s training.  He graduated in 2010 and danced with the Estonian Ballet Company although, I understand, he no longer dances professionally.

Next was Rebecca Croan who started at the Academy in 2008.  She completed a Traineeship year and left to join the European Ballet until an injury forced her to quit ballet.

Natalie Carter and Daniel Dolan started training at the Academy in 2009.  Both started on a Traineeship and went onto a Diploma.  Hayley Stobo started a year later in 2010, going straight onto the Diploma course.  All three were in their final year when I started here.  They graduated in 2013.  Daniel now has a contract with the Lithuanian Ballet Company.  This is a BBC news clip about Natalie, Daniel and Hayley.  (Natalie and Hayley had the same ballet teacher that I now have -Natalia Igorivna Revitch – who can be seen at the beginning of the clip!)

In 2011, Nikita Baron joined the Academy on a six month programme.  Nikita then went on to train in the UK.  Also in 2011, Heather McGowan started training at the Academy.  Heather completed her Traineeship and a few months of the Diploma and left in 2013.

With my friend, Nastia.
With my friend, Nastia, outside the Academy on graduation day.

Then in 2012 I came along!  I started on the Traineeship and then moved onto the three year Diploma.  Also joining me in the Academy at the same time was Alessandro (Alex) Caggegi who went straight on to the three year Diploma.  Two other Brits also started with Alex and I, Alice Cunningham and Mairi Joanna IStirling Hill.  They both left in October 2012.

Alex graduated in 2015 and has gone on to dance with Kazan.  He was the third male British dancer to graduate from the Diploma programme and I graduated in 2016 as the third British female dancer and joined Royal Ballet of Moscow as a soloist.

Darcy Angus joined the Academy for a traineeship year in 2015 and Beatrice Millar joined in 2016 in the lower school.

So according to my research, and as at January 2017, that equates to 13 of the 16 Brits completing a formal training programme so far.  Six have graduated the Diploma programme; three female students and three male students.

So there’s room for plenty more!

If you’d like follow my career as a professional classical dancer, following my graduation from the Academy, then go over to my Instagram page.

Some of my final year state exam photos:


Join the conversation


  1. I left after 3 and a half years from 2004 until 2007, not a few months. I was there when they shot the documentary about Henry, I wasn’t in it because it didn’t fit with the “British boy alone in Moscow” theme even though I’d already been at the academy for two years.

  2. No, I unfortunately gave up due to a combination of injury and loss of interest in dancing. No worries about the mistake. Things were very low key when I was at the academy, there was no publicity unlike now so there was no way to know.

    1. I found it really difficult to find information on you to include in the post! I’ve amended so have a look and check you are ok with what I’ve now written – happy to add more! You were so brave to travel here in 2004, the first really in the new wave of British students!

  3. Thanks a lot, I appreciate you changing the post. I can see why it was hard to find info. Back then, the academy didn’t have any kind of foreign students programme, for westerners at least, and there was no media interest around it. It was difficult but I think that going to train there was the best thing I have ever done even though I decided not to become a dancer.

    1. No Probs, glad you got in touch! Coming here is definitely the best thing I have done. The training and experience is remarkable! What made you come out here to train when you did in 2004? Do you still speak Russian/ have any Russian influence in your life still?

  4. I am Anna Wooster and I studied in Leningrad and was actually the first Brit to study ballet in the USSR . I was there from 1957 graduating in 1961. I was at school with Nureyev and Makarova. I returned to England in ’61 and joined Festival Ballet while Bourmeister was with them. Then I went to Rambert and later Walter Gore’s London Ballet. Was going to return to USSR to join the Mali Theatre in Leningrad under Belsky but met my future husband on holiday in Italy, worked at La Scala for 6 months then got married. Opened a school in Riva del Garda TN and after 55 years am still teaching Vaganova Method!

    1. Hi Anna – thank you for getting in touch. What a fabulous story you have. And studying with Nureyev – how amazing! I imagine Russia would have been very different when you were training at that time. You must have faced some challenges, just in travelling to Leningrad, let alone sorting visas and communicating with family back home. I bet you have fabulous memories though. I also love Italy – I did my first tour there as a professional and danced on some fabulous stages – my favourite was in Teatro Di San Carlo in Naples though there were some hidden gems throughout. I’d love to dance for one of the companies there at some point in my career xxx

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