A Denton 11-year-old is setting out today on a trip halfway around the globe to train at one of the world’s most prestigious ballet academies.
George Chadick has been invited to train at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow through next June. Only four other students from Texas were invited to attend, and he’s among 23 students accepting their invitations this year.
Established in 1773, the internationally renowned academy is known for producing world-class dancers, teachers and choreographers.
“It means a lot to me,” George said of being invited to train there. “I know it’s a big opportunity.”
His audition for the academy was a part of his participation in the Bolshoi Ballet Academy Summer Intensive program in Connecticut this year. The six-week programs in Connecticut and New York, designed and operated by the Russian American Foundation Inc., allow pre-professional dancers ages 9 and older to work with Bolshoi instructors.
George is one of the youngest from the program this year invited to train in Moscow, according to foundation officials.
Those selected to train in Moscow must meet certain criteria, ranging from talent, training and coordination to the ability to adapt to living in a different country, according to Rina Kirshner, vice president for the Russian American Foundation.
George said he received his invitation about three weeks after completing the summer program.
“I guess I was just thinking that I was so happy that I got this opportunity,” he recalled. “I was happy because I worked hard and I tried every day when I went over to Connecticut.
“I knew the Bolshoi was the best, and I wanted the training.”
While in Moscow, the specialty for George’s traineeship will be choreographic art. He’s expected to take courses in classical dance, repertoire, historical dance, pointe work, stretching and the Russian language.
George said he expects he’ll be trained in a style of ballet similar to the Vaganova method, the classical ballet style he’s studied here in Denton, named for Russian dancer Agrippina Vaganova.
“I want to be one of the best dancers I can be and get better every day [at] being a professional dancer and being trained in the Vaganova style,” he said.
It was no secret George had aspirations to train at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, his parents said.
Two weeks into his summer intensive program, his mother, Victoria Chadick, said he told them by phone, “Mom, Dad, I want to go to Russia. I want to do this.”
When the Chadicks learned in August that the youngest of their three children had been invited to train there, Victoria Chadick said it wasn’t an opportunity they could pass up, even though tuition is several thousand dollars.
“We feel like we need to make this happen for him because he’s been given a unique opportunity,” Victoria Chadick said. “I think my husband and I, after many talks, realized that he’s dedicated and works hard and they offered him an incredible opportunity, and we couldn’t shut the door on that.
“I think it will be a wonderful experience for him and … I can’t deny that, a wonderful opportunity to see a different culture.”
Though he’ll likely be homesick for family and Texas, George is looking forward to meeting new friends and learning Russian — not to mention furthering his ballet skills.
In the meantime, family members expect to keep in touch via Skype and other electronic means after George arrives in Russia on Monday with his father, Steven.
Victoria Chadick said she does worry about her youngest child growing up while away from her the next several months. “It’s kind of bittersweet, but I feel like I’ve been here for all his milestones so far,” she said.
The Chadicks have been told that George will be in a class of six and will room with three other students in a dormitory on the third floor in the facility, where the academy’s studios are, under the guidance of a housemaster and housemistress.
His training, she said, will start from square one. If things go well, George will have the opportunity of being invited back.
George began his training in dance more than two years ago.
A former soccer player home-schooled since the third grade, he said he followed in his 14- and 16-year-old siblings’ footsteps in taking up dance.
“I got tired of soccer, and I wanted to try something new, and my sister convinced me just to try it,” he said. “I like everything about it.”
George participated in the 2012 Youth America Grand Prix, an annual ballet competition for students ages 8 to 19, and placed third in the regional competition.
The last two years he’s trained at the Denton Ballet Academy with Hugh Nini. George has participated in productions of Collage and the Festival Ballet of North Central Texas’ The Nutcracker.
For a child from Denton to go to the Bolshoi Ballet Academy to train is “an absolutely phenomenal thing,” Nini said.
He calls his student “extremely wise for an 11-year-old” and “extremely wise for a person of any age.”
Nini said he’s observed George’s ability to keep in his head many instructions and directions and feed them back to instructors. George is a fast learner who “has a gift for performance,” he said.
“It boggles your mind that he can feed that back as a student,” Nini said. “It’s highly unusual.
“George is able to understand and implement the extremely complicated processes of a ballet dancer, which is more like an Olympic athlete than anything else.”
Ballet is complex, Nini said, and George has been able to pick up techniques at a higher rate than anyone he’s ever taught. Nini said George stands out in a group of standouts from the Denton Ballet Academy, and he’s not surprised he’ll be training at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.
“He has an enormous potential and an enormous future,” Nini said. “That will be difficult beyond words, but I do believe he can do it.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.