Julian and Nicholas MacKay with David Hallberg right after David’s historic debut performance with the Bolshoi last Friday night
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Julian and Nicholas Mackay are the youngest Americans to study at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.
Julian Mackay is a finalist for a Expat Youth Scholarship. Julian needs the scholarship to continue his studies at the Boldhoi Ballet Academy
The voting is hosted by the Expat Youth Scholarship on Facebook. To vote, log onto your Facebook account and follow the steps below:
1. Click “Like” on top of the Expat page
2. Click the “VOTE HERE” link in the left-hand column.
3. Scroll to the second video, called “From Bison to Bolshoi”
4. “Like” the video.
Voting ends August 31, 2011
Related Articles: Young Dancer to Study at Bolshoi
Americans, Julian and Nicholas MacKay are attending the Bolshoi Ballet School. Their mother, Terresa MacKay, was recently interviewed by Prime Time Russia. She tells about their experience in Russia.
Related Articles: Julian and Nicholas MacKay
By Jessica Golloher
PRI The World
October 31, 2011
And with that, dancers took to the stage at Russia’s finest theatre, for the first time in more than six years, after more than $700 million in renovations.
Muscovite Maria, who didn’t want to use her last name, braved the wind and cold to see the opening gala. “This is like a big holiday for us! This is a beautiful theatre. The opening is so important for all of us, for Russia, for Moscow. This theatre is the face of all Russians,” she said.
And well, that’s what brothers Julian and Nicholas MacKay want to change. They’re 14 and 10 – the youngest Americans ever admitted to the Bolshoi Academy, the training ground for the big stage. They were relegated this weekend to watching the historic performance outside, on giant TV screens, dwarfed by the historic theatre and a nearby statue of Karl Marx.
They’ve been dancing at the Bolshoi Academy for three years and two years respectively. Julian says it’s been a struggle; both teachers and students were hard on him. “Some of them don’t like the United States, they think, “Oh … Americans.” I got a lot of that, especially from the kids. After I became friends, you kind of realized it’s not them saying that, it’s the old generation,” said MacKay.
Brother Nicholas agrees that being from the land of baseball and apple pie isn’t exactly something to brag about. He says it was hard to make friends when he first arrived, though American culture is certainly catching on.
The boys agreed to meet me after 14-year-old Julian had his birthday party at the Chili’s restaurant on Arbat Street.
“If I had understood some of the things they said, I don’t think I’d be very good friends with them right now,” said MacKay.
The sweet faced, all-American boys came from Bozeman, MT to attend arguably the best ballet school in the world.
Their mother Teresa Khan, wasn’t exactly on board when eldest son, Julian, got an invitation from the Academy at the age of 12. “When he got the invitation for Russia, I said, “No I’m not going.” It wasn’t necessarily on my bucket list to do,” said Khan.
But the family is something of a ballet powerhouse. Khan says she relented after talking to her daughter, who, along with her sister, is dancing at the state ballet in Munich, Germany.
“My son would resent it. Sooner or later he was going to realize, it’s the Bolshoi. I had the opportunity. The door opened and I didn’t run through it because my mom and dad wouldn’t let me,” said Khan.
And both her boys have been running towards that Russian stage door ever since. Julian and Nicholas spend up to 11 grueling hours, every day, on their young feet.
Blue-eyed Nicholas, the 10-year-old, looks unfazed and smiles when he describes his typical day, which includes 10 classes. “I get up about 7:30, got to school. I have Russian class, then ballet class, maybe gymnastics, historical dance class and repertoire. The final class ends at 6:30. I come home and do home schooling with my mom,” said MacKay.
Brother Julian, 14, says sometimes his schedule gets to be more than a bit overwhelming. “I do feel like that everyday, but I think you have to push through it. It’s after the long days of class your brain hurts, your legs hurt, everything hurts. I really feel that definitely it’s a challenge. It’s something you just have to push through,” said MacKay.
And Julian’s commitment has caught his teacher’s attention. He’s recently been placed in quite a few Bolshoi performances. “It’s really been quite an experience. I was in Esmerelda, Paquita, Sleeping Beauty…,” said MacKay.
Julian even danced with principal Natalia Osipova when he was 13 in Coppelia. It was broadcast live and aired in more than 300 theaters in 22 countries. “I’m standing here and there is Osipova standing right there! And she’s right there, dancing on the same stage!” said MacKay.
Little brother Nicholas has even gotten in on the action, although he would have liked to have had a slightly bigger part. “I danced in Napoli on the Stanislavsky stage. I basically had to act like a monk. I had a very long, like black dress thing. I was the priest holding the cross to bless the boats. It’s a start,” said MacKay.
Many people would argue that being at the world famous Bolshoi Academy at such a young age is more than just a start, but both Julian and Nicholas are very disciplined and focused; though they admit it’s still tough keeping up with the Russians.
“I think Russians are a bit too harsh, but they really care about their students. As you get older, they get more tough on you. I think it’s tough love,” said MacKay.
It’s that tough love that both boys say they’ve come to appreciate and expect from their teachers.
They both hope to graduate from the Academy and join the Bolshoi as a principal dancer one day… even though it may be a rough road ahead. Julian says he isn’t fazed because he says at least that path has been blazed by David Hallberg, the first-ever American to join the Bolshoi as a principal dancer. He starts in November.
© 2011 PRI’s The World
Related Articles: Julian and Nicholas MacKay
By Alyssa Small
The Bozeman Daily Chronicle
June 6, 2011
Less than two years ago, Julian MacKay was just a boy from Bozeman who liked to dance. Now, the 13-year-old is one of the youngest American dancers ever to perform with the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.
Last month, Julian performed in the Bolshoi’s “Coppelia,” a ballet that was recorded and broadcast live from the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. The performance aired in more than 300 theaters in 22 countries worldwide.
“When I started rehearsing the part, I didn’t really know what it was going to be,” Julian said in a phone interview. He said at the audition he hadn’t even been tall enough to fit into the costumes. “Then, the next thing I knew, I was cast and dancing on the stage and there was [Bolshoi Ballet principal dancer] Natalia Osipova.”
Julian was previously the youngest American ever to be asked to attend the Bolshoi Academy. He has since lost that title.
“His brother, Nicholas, beat him out,” said the boys’ father, Greg MacKay.
But it hasn’t upset him. Instead, having Nicholas there has made things easier. Both boys started at the academy without knowing any Russian.
“I made friends with the Russian students because they understood some American movies, like James Bond,” Julian said. “I cracked some funny jokes, and that’s how I made friends.”
Now, Julian and Nicholas are fluent in Russian, taking classes from 7 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., six days a week, and earning top marks on their dance exams. Julian has lost count of the number of times he has performed with the ballet.
Julian played one of the village people in “Coppelia,” alongside partner Nina Biryukova. One of the best parts was that the performance was broadcast live, Julian’s mother Teresa Khan MacKay said.
“His sisters got to watch it in Munich, and I had friends watching in Paris and New York,” she said. Since Teresa moved to Russia with the boys to support them, she watched it live in the Bolshoi Theatre. Julian’s father, who lives in Bozeman, has not yet seen the performance because it did not air in Montana.
Neither Theresa nor Greg takes credit for inspiring their children’s love of dance. “I’m not even a wannabe,” said Teresa. “I don’t have the personality or the desire for dancing. But I do have a great love of beauty.”
While both boys have bright ballet futures ahead of them, and Julian hopes to one day play the role of a prince, like in “Sleeping Beauty,” the family hasn’t forgotten its Montana roots. Nicholas is looking forward to floating the Madison River and Julian loves going to the Boiling River in Yellowstone.
“I really like Russia, but Montana is still home,” Julian said.
And the boys wouldn’t have gotten far without first learning to love dance in Bozeman from their instructor, Christine Austin. “Where my children are now, they had to start somewhere,” Teresa said. “If Montana didn’t have classical ballet opportunities for kids, our children never would’ve gotten this far.”
An encore showing of the “Coppelia” broadcast will play June 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Shiloh 14 in Billings, the Carmike 10 in Great Falls, and the Carmike 10 in Missoula. Because there are no Carmike theaters in Bozeman, no local showings have been scheduled yet.