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Nich­olas and Julian MacKay out­side the Bolshoi Theatre June 2013

By Graham Spicer
December 31, 2013

Dan­cing, like act­ing and singing, often runs in the fam­ily. There are count­less dan­cers whose par­ents danced: Zenaida Yanowsky (Royal Bal­let), Yury Yanowsky (Boston Bal­let) and Nadia Yanowsky (Het Nationale Bal­let) are the chil­dren of Rus­sian bal­let dan­cer Anatol Yanowsky and Span­ish bal­let dan­cer Car­men Robles. Ballet’s in their blood.

What makes the Khan-MacKay fam­ily spe­cial is that the four sib­lings – Maria Sascha, Nadia, Julian and Nich­olas — are not the chil­dren of dan­cers, nor do they come from Lon­don, Paris or New York, where trips to the bal­let can be reg­u­lar events, but are from Montana, the home of cow­boys and cattle, the Rock­ies and the Yel­low­stone National Park. Yet the fam­ily is now dis­persed around the globe train­ing and dan­cing, with Maria Sascha Khan at the Bay­erisches Staats­bal­lett in Munich, Nadia Khan with the Com­pañía Nacional de Danza in Spain, and the boys Julian MacKay and Nich­olas MacKay both train­ing at the Bolshoi Bal­let Academy. As elder sis­ter, Maria Sascha, asks, “I was born on the porch of the midwife’s log cabin, in Montana, USA. How do you get from there to an inter­na­tional career in ballet?”

Read more about Maria Sacha, Nadia, their brothers Julian and Nicholas and their parents:

Related Articles:

US Mom proud of sons at the Bolshoi Academy  3/2012

David Hallberg with Julian and Nicholas MacKay     11/2011

Young American Dancers at the Bolshoi Theatre  10/2011

From Bozeman to Bolshoi to the big screen  6/2011

Montana dancer performs with Bolshoi   6/2011

What is it like to be an American at the Bolshoi Academy?   6/2011

12-year-old dancer aces first year at Bolshoi Ballet Academy   6/2010

Ask the Dancers: Young Americans in Russia Respond  6/2010

Young Americans Embrace Rigors of the Bolshoi  5/2010

Julian MacKay, 12, makes history with the Bolshoi   3/2010

Love of ballet brings Berlin’s best to Bozeman   3/2010

Young Dancer to Study at Bolshoi   10/2009

Julian and Nicholas MacKay with David Hallberg right after David’s historic debut performance with the Bolshoi last Friday night

Julian and Nicholas Mackay are the youngest Americans to study at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

Read these articles about Julian and Nicholas Mackay

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


By Liz Kearney
Livingston Enterprise
March 5, 2010


Julian MacKay makes history with the Bolshoi Ballet (PDF)





Related Articles: Young Dancer to Study at Bolshoi

Love of ballet brings Berlin’s best to Bozeman



By the Boys and Ballet Crew

Rule #1: Too much pink makes a boy nauseous.

Rule #2: The girls’ bathroom is not a changing room

Rule #3: Hair styles and manicures are not good topics of discussion when there are boys in the room.

Rule #5: Boys play with dangerous toys.

ballet students

nutcracker, news and observer 2008

Owen Keith (middle) rehearses the Nutcracker fight scene as a member of the cavalry for Pacific Northwest Ballet 2010

Julian Mackay Pre-competitive NY Finals 2009 (12)

New Mexico Ballet Company’s 2013 production of The Nutcracker

Rule #4: Do not dress your boys like this….unless you want them to run.


           8a90d_68d6ed9d  Karen Forbes School of Dance boys-0

Rule #5: Boys are….

Peter Weil, 14,  as the Prince  - Behind the Scences at he Pennsylvania Ballet's Nutcracker 2011-02

Neglia Ballet Artists Nutcraker 2009

Marat Daukayev Ballet Theatre Spring Performance, Edgar Khachaturov 2011-02

Cole McMason, then 9, in last year's Studio West's Nutcracker

Pamela Hayes Classical Ballet Theater’s ‘The Nutcracker 2012

Ballet West Academy 2010 Spring Performance 03

The mischievous little mouse (Justin Souriau-Levine, 10) holds the nutcracker doll in ABT's Nutcracker 2010  pirate_and_gypsy

Peter Pan   86e85_e1cf    RBS 2009

London Children's Ballet's Rumpelstiltskin 2011b   Portland Ballet - La Boutique Fantasque (Pinochio)2009-01

86413_db8a   Mikhael Kinley-Safronoff 08

  Tanner Bleck, 14, danced in Next Generation Ballet's Summer Fantasy 2012  tumblr_049

7ddf9_25ce3a05  Rowan Lightfoot and Troy Tipple are taking to the stage with the English Youth Ballet 2013

0_8a914_894fd174_XXXLb  Goblin from Centralia Ballet Academy's The Sorcer's Apprentice 2012

Julian MacKay 2013     Lachlan Martin on What is Ballet

Rule #6 Girls are….



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

Play Podcast

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

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Boys and Ballet YouTube Channel


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.

© Copyright 2011, The Bozeman Daily Chronicle

By Richard Ecke
Greatfalls Tribune
Photograph by Youth Arts in Action
June 6, 2011

Thirteen-year-old Julian MacKay is one of four dancing wunderkinds from a single Bozeman family. Eldest sister Maria once watched a live ballet performance and commented, “I should try it,” recalled youngest brother Nicholas MacKay.

All four siblings leapt into classical dancing, and have achieved international success.

Julian was the only American to dance with the Bolshoi Ballet during a performance May 29 in Moscow at the Bolshoi Theatre New Stage.

In a telephone interview from Moscow, Julian admitted he was nervous at first before the performance, but his Russian instructor helped him keep cool.

Julian said he was “extremely excited” to dance with the legendary Bolshoi company, especially when he spotted the giant sold-out crowd, which reacted to dancers’ performances during the ballet “Coppelia.”

“They clapped forever,” he said.

“The New York Times gave it rave reviews,” said proud father Gregory MacKay, a Bozeman computer consultant who is the only member of the family still in Montana, aside from the family dog, a miniature Schnauzer named Shakespeare.

Besides Julian, also wrapping up this school year in Russia is younger brother Nicholas, 10, who has tied on ballet shoes, along with sisters Maria Sascha Khan, 23, and Nadia Khan, 20.

Nicholas figured it made sense to join in the fun. “I thought, ‘Hey, this looks cool, and everybody else is doing it,'” Nicholas said. “I love the way that Russians teach you.”

Nicholas and Julian were both at the top of their dance classes at the Bolshoi Academy during the year, said their mother, Teresa Khan MacKay, who home-schools them in a rented apartment in Moscow, within walking distance of the academy.

Nicholas in recent months appeared in “Napoli,” playing the role of a monk at the Stanislavsky Ballet and Opera Theater in Moscow. He hopes to make his debut with the Bolshoi Ballet during the next school year.

The youngest MacKay’s friends in Montana think it’s cool he is studying ballet in Russia.”They want me to bring back souvenirs,” Nicholas said.

Teresa, Julian and Nicholas soon will leave Russia for the summer and stop in Germany to visit Maria and Nadia, who are performing with the Bayerishes Staatsballett in Munich. Then it’s back to the United States for a Connecticut summer dance program for the boys, and finally to Montana, where the family expects to reunite in August.

Neither MacKay parent has a dance background.

Teresa remembers her reaction to Julian receiving an invitation to enroll in the Bolshoi Academy. “I’m not going,” she said flatly. She changed her mind in a day or two, with Maria’s encouragement.

“It’s been an adventure,” said Teresa, who also is executive director of a Bozeman-based nonprofit group, Youth Arts in Action, which helps talented students pursue the arts.

If there is any downside to this fairytale story, it’s the big cost for kids to attend the Bolshoi Academy in Russia, Gregory MacKay said. He said British students at the academy have corporate sponsors, and he hopes some American companies will jump in to sponsor these talented, articulate and athletic young ballet dancers from Montana.

It’s hard to beat a Bolshoi education, he added. “It’s considered the best one for boys in the world,” Gregory said.

Copyright © 2011 Greatfalls Tribune


Related Articles: Julian and Nicholas MacKay


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