36th WORLD DANCE CONGRESS ON DANCE RESEARCH CID UNESCO, SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA, 2013
Supported by Jabatan Kebudayaan dan Keseniaan Negara, Puan Ramlah Amir
This would be my first official solo dance travel accompanied by Puan Ramlah Amir, supported by Datuk Norliza Rofli from the National Department of Arts & Culture through the Royal Arts Gala Fund Malaysia was nothing but fantastic and would change my mind about the people in this government centre. The first amazing person I met that supported me in my first International Dance Production at The KuAsh Theatre was Mr. Hesmel Faznee bin Ahmad Faisal. But this is very much individual characters. But generally they are friendly and helpful when you meet them.
The Russian people are warm, kind and absolutely curious and fascinated by other cultures, countries and nationalities in contrast to how they are portrayed in American mafia movies. Even the taxi driver kept asking me about Malaysia in the most positive sense wanting to know about our cuisine and making both of us very welcomed to Russia eventhough his English was poor but he kept trying and that is what I felt was very touching as most have not travelled out of the country. I tried my very best to paint a picture of Malaysia but I think I did a bad job and the language barrier did not help. I felt like a failure. Puan Ramlah Amir was just amazed looking at me the whole talking to a stranger who so happened to be our taxi driver arriving in Russia like it was normal lol.
Gods on Stage
The Organisers were most welcoming and the Ballet and Contemporary dancers from children to adults at the Boris Eifman Dance Academy were the first time stopping moment when I saw a male dancer walk towards me where I really understood the phrase ‘Gods on stage’.
He had dark hair and eyes that hypnotised me as he looked at me walking towards me before he opened the door to enter the studio. Until today I remember this moment vividly. His face was unbelievably handsome, chiselled features, towering body 6 feet over with sculptured muscles you thought only existed on a Rodin sculpture but to see a real one was quite something else. They really had the bodies like the sculptures you see with chest muscle in the right proportions, shoulder, abs, legs and all. A real life statue. Gods really existed and they were here and they DANCED TOO!
Sightseeing and Visits
This incredible dance exchange was valuable being at the Boris Eifman Dance Academy and seeing the man himself from afar and watching the Ballet classes and training that goes into producing the top ballerinas in the world was truly a blessing. Then we got two surprises on top of visiting the famous breathtaking Winter Palace and many other significant landmarks.
The first was to the Mariinsky Theatre to watch a Ballet, which until today I can’t believe actually happened and I was too numb and dazed to even realise what was happening.
Then the icing on the cake or rather the diamond in my life better then any diamond anyone will ever propose to you, was when Professor Alkis Raftis and Aelita Kondrovota managed to get us into the Vaganova Dance Academy! I watched a class and visited the entire school and the dance museum, which has inspired me to do the same for Malaysia in time to come encouraged by Puan Ramlah Amir who attended every talk and took notes. Amazing she worked the entire time!
There is no doubt that the Russian ballet, ballerinas and their technique is exceptional. The female bodies are not the same as ours. Their legs make up 2/3’s of the entire body sometimes more. The men well see my description above. GODS ON STAGE. Their style of choreography is what makes their ballet unique. They always leave an element of surprise or the ‘wow’ in the simplest and most normal routines. Or the interpretation of a pose is different in an aesthetic sense.
I will not mention what we were served in the glamorous hotel we stayed in. But I have never had salmon, caviar, cheese and many more plus champagne for breakfast. YES, WE HAD CHAMPAGNE ON THE FINAL DAY TOO. NO I HAVE NEVER! It was as if the betrayal of what had happened to my dance experience dancing in a local dance company turned around overnight and this was redemption at its best and I was floating in a dream!
It will be the most valuable and unforgettable dance journey of mine in this lifetime.
Forever grateful: Thank you Professor Alkis Raftis, Aelita Kondrovota, Dinara Meirbekova, Puan Ramlah Amir and the friends I made that I will never forget that made my first dance travel out of this world! Pun!