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By Richard Ecke
Great Falls Tribune
September 14, 2015

 

Julian MacKay leaps in front of the Royal Opera House in London (Jordan Matter) 2015[Bozeman, Montana, USA] – Julian and Nicholas MacKay of Bozeman didn’t become accomplished ballet dancers by lounging around on a couch. Their work demands artistic interpretation, athletic prowess and continuous workouts and stretching to stem injuries. They push their bodies and limbs beyond the limits of comfort.

Julian, 17, has begun a year with the Royal Ballet company in London. He said in a Skype interview that he works out or practices until he gets a routine down pat. “I stay until it’s good,” Julian said. When he gets home to his apartment, he doesn’t really lounge. It’s more like a collapse. “You’re just lying there,” he said. “You can’t get up. Ballet is very physical. It’s almost gymnastic.”

Younger brother Nicholas, 14, has joined the Vaganova Academy ballet school in St. Petersburg, Russia. Dancing isn’t tough only on the toes, Nicholas pointed out. “Not just the feet, the whole body,” he said. “I have quite strong feet.” Yet it’s not a pain-free experience; feet get strained, and limbs ache. “You definitely have to love it,” Nicholas said.

He is enthralled by his new city in Russia. “It’s an amazing city,” Nicholas said of St. Petersburg in a telephone interview. “I love it. It feels European. So many museums. There’s so much history here.”

Nicholas and Julian, sons of Gregory and Teresa Khan MacKay of Bozeman, were pioneers as American male ballet students at the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow. Julian was the first American to attend the school to receive a full diploma, taking the same classes the Russian students did. Julian graduated in the spring.

Nicholas, who graduated from the Bolshoi Academy’s lower level in May after beginning school there at age 9, is a pioneer as well. “He’s the first American of his age ever accepted” at his new school, Gregory MacKay said. Nicholas traveled home briefly to Bozeman this summer, but Julian hasn’t been back to Bozeman for a year. “The boys have made history many times,” their father said. “I’m just kind of flabbergasted.”

“It’s quite a ride so far,” Julian said.

They’ve been assisted by generous sponsors from Big Sky, native Montanans Loren and Jill Bough, who have enabled the boys to pursue a dream of ballet stardom.

Nicholas said a fine Russian teacher suggested he try out for the academy in St. Petersburg; Nicholas was chosen after a highly competitive audition. Julian won a chance to perform with the ballet company in London by winning a competition in Switzerland, the Prix de Lausanne.

Julian is excited he will have a part as a Montague in “Romeo and Juliet,” as he will be able to swing a sword around. He took fencing when he was younger. Although the swords have blunt tips, they are heavy, so it pays to learn one’s moves to avoid an accident. A dancer wouldn’t get cut, but he could be pretty severely bruised by an errant sword.

“I get to be like a lord,” Julian said. “Some of the movements are quite complicated.”

He’s been in London about a month, but hasn’t done much sight-seeing. “I’m mainly in the studio (rehearsing),” Julian reported. The Royal Ballet has an amazing gym facility, says Julian, who added, “I’ve become much stronger. So far, it’s been a really great experience.”

Julian showed his mettle in August in China, where he finished third in an International Ballet and Choreography Competition featuring both Chinese and foreign dancers. “I was the only American to win a medal there,” he said. “I won third place, but the rest of the prizes went to Chinese dancers.”

He misses his mom and younger brother, who were all together in Moscow until the boys graduated.

Of his younger brother, Julian said graciously, “He’s definitely the most talented in the family.”

Both have had instances of deja vu in their new adventures in St. Petersburg and London.

When he was 10, Nicholas danced with members of the Mariinsky Ballet at the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City in July 2011. He played one of the boys on a train in “Anna Karenina.” “Some of the boys (from that production) are in my class,” Nicholas said. “I played chess with them on the train.”

For that performance, “they weren’t going to pay me very much,” Nicholas added. But he already had learned Russian, so “I ended up translating for costume people,” Nicholas said. “They actually paid me extra for translating.”

In London, a principal dancer in the Royal Ballet company is a Russian, Natalia Osipova. As a younger student at the Bolshoi Academy, Julian got to appear onstage with Osipova in a production, but he was more interested in his stage prop. “I was the one holding the goat next to her,” Julian said. “I didn’t realize that she was such a prima ballerina.”

 

All four children in the family have chosen to become classical dancers; stepsisters Maria Sascha Khan dances with the Ekaterinburg State Ballet and Nadia Khan dances in Madrid with the Compania Nacional de Danza. Theresa is happy with all the children’s dancing successes, but she especially admires their growth as people living in exotic climes. “They seem to be able to speak to anyone,” she said admiringly. The boys have picked up many foreign languages, including difficult ones such as Russian.

In London, dance veteran Julian said he’s comfortable performing before crowds in gilded halls from China to Switzerland to England. “It doesn’t really matter who’s sitting there (in the audience),” said a confident Julian. He paused, though, when asked if it would make a difference if Queen Elizabeth II of England were in the audience in London. “I think I’d be a little bit nervous,” Julian said with a chuckle.

 

 

Read more about Nicholas and Julian:

Julian Mackay is one of the six winners of this year’s Prix de Lausanne (2-17-15)

Bozeman boys excel at Bolshoi Ballet Academy 11/24/14

Young American at the Bolshoi: Julian MacKay wins Sochi and Istanbul medals (external link)  7-13-14

Dancing with the Khan-MacKay family 12/31/13

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

 

By Gramilano
February 17, 2015

 

Julian Mackay at the Bolshoi Theatre (Quinn Wharton)Seventeen-year-old Julian Mackay is one of the six winners of this year’s Prix de Lausanne. He is part of the extraordinary Khan-MacKay family which boasts four ballet dancers; something this blog has covered before.

Julian however is flying high during his last year at the Bolshoi Academy before his graduation in June, having already won medals last summer at the Sochi and Istan­bul, he was awarded the Kelvin Coe Scholarship from the En Avant Foundation, and around Christmas was dancing Siegfried for the Russian State Ballet on tour. However winning at Lausanne is special.

Read the entire article: http://www.gramilano.com/2015/02/julian-mackay-on-entering-and-winning-the-prix-de-lausanne-2015/

 

Copyright © 2015 · Gramilano

 

 

 

 

Read more about Nicholas and Julian:

Bozeman boys excel at Bolshoi Ballet Academy 11/24/14

Young American at the Bolshoi: Julian MacKay wins Sochi and Istanbul medals (external link)  7-13-14

Dancing with the Khan-MacKay family 12/31/13

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

 

Nich­olas and Julian MacKay out­side the Bolshoi Theatre June 2013

By Graham Spicer
Gramilano.com
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: http://www.gramilano.com/2013/12/you-choose-it-out-of-love-dancing-with-the-khan-mackay-family/

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

 

 

 

The Royal Academy of Dance appears to have cracked the age-old problem of persuading boys to take up ballet lessons – using video game characters and superheroes as role models

 

Royal Academy of Dance’s new male dance ambassador Iain Mackay with students (Mark Mainz) 2016-02

 

By Patrick Sawer
The Telegraph
March 20, 2014

 

The grace and muscular athleticism of Rudolph Nureyev and Carlos [Acosta] made them global stars, revered by fans and critics alike. And story of the miner’s son from County Durham who went on to become a principal dancer with the Royal Ballet, made Billy Elliot a film and musical sensation. But it remains difficult to persuade young boys there’s nothing soft or sissy about pirouettes, pas de deux and jetes.

Now the Royal Academy of Dance appears to have cracked the age-old problem of persuading boys to take up ballet lessons. It has recruited hundreds of new boys to take part in a series of events promoting classical dance and has seen an increase in the numbers taking ballet exams.

Last years [sic] the Royal Academy surpassed its ambition to sign up 1000 boys to its masterclass events, with the number of boys being taught in these classes currently standing at 1, 046. The academy has also seen a 16 per cent rise in the number of boys taking ballet exams over the past two years, from 1,127 in 2013 to 1,316 last year.

How did the Royal Academy pull off this spectacular leap?

The answer appears to lie in the world of video games and action films. Instead of classes based on the classical repertoire, with its emphasis on fairytales, princesses, tiaras and tutus – seen as more appealing to little girls than their male counterparts – the boys are encouraged to adopt the personae of superheroes and characters from films and video games such as Angry Birds, Optimus Prime, Minecraft, Star Wars, Lego and Toy Story.

Birmingham-Royal-Ballet-principal-iain-mackay-becomes-rad-male-dance-ambassador (Mark Mainz, Royal Academy of Dance) 2016

The newly appointed male dance ambassador for RAD, Iain Mackay, also Principal at the Birmingham Royal Ballet, says the secret lies in encouraging boys to view ballet in the same way they see sport – cool, physical, aspirational and addictive.

Mr Mackay was taught a crucial lesson by his own son Oscar, 6, who told him he thought ballet was ‘girly’. “I’ve taken all my ideas from Oscar,” admits Mr Mackay. “Before he was born I taught ballet workshops using the traditional methods, but I could see the boys weren’t really engaging.

“And when I [took] Oscar to his first ballet class it was a sea of pink and white and he just said ‘No, I’m not doing that. He said it didn’t look like they were having any fun. So I thought about the things he and others boys relate to – such as the superheroes and video game characters they play with on their iPads.” Now Oscar likes the sword fights and dance inspired games in his father’s rehearsals, but doesn’t think of it them as ‘ballet’.

The Royal Academy, which sets the global standard for dance exams, now wants to encourage a change in the way classical dance is taught around the country, from schools to draughty church halls, to attract more boys to take part.

Mr Mackay was first persuaded to attend ballet lessons as a seven-year-old Glasgow schoolboy only as company for his older brother, who had been inspired by the TV show Fame. His father was a sales rep for a guttering firm and his mother a librarian and until then neither had had much time for ballet.

He said that although he attended his first class only reluctantly, the physicality of the leaps and jumps persuaded him to persevere with classical dance and he says it is this which still engages boys.

“There are no short cuts. Ballet is physical and gruelling and you have to learn the technique from scratch,” said Mr Mackay. “But let the boys have fun first and enjoy being physical and in control of their bodies.

Royal Academy of Dance's new male dance ambassador Iain Mackay with students (Mark Mainz) 2016-01

“If they like Angry Birds I get them to stand, twist and move like Angry Birds. If they like Transformers I ask them to hold themselves with their chests out and heads held up, ‘to look strong, like the Transformers’. They love it. And then I explain that’s the position Carlos [Acosta] stands in.”

 

Case Study: ‘Evan is so confident after going to ballet classes’

 

Evan Paterson was reluctant to join in with his older sister’s ballet classes. After all ballet, according to all his friends, was “what girls did”. But when he took part in one of Ian Mackay’s Royal Academy of Dance’s masterclasses he suddenly realised it could be something for boys too.

Evan Patterson from Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland, goes through his ballet routine (Jon Savage, The Telegraph) 2016-01

Now the nine-year-old is a regular at the ballet classes where his sister Alex, now 12, learnt her craft and is preparing for his RAD exams this summer.

Evan said: “I like expressing my feelings and how you can jump high and be acrobatic.”

Evan Patterson from Dunbar, East Lothian, Scotland, finishes his routine by playing an air guitar (Jon Savage, The Telegraph) 2016-02As part of his class Mr Mackay asks the boys to end their routines with a pose of their own choosing. Evan chose to imitate a rock guitar player. “I was thinking of poses that I could do and I saw someone on television playing the guitar and I thought that it would be cool to do the same thing,” he said.

His mother Nicola, a dental nurse in Dunbar, East Lothian said: “He’d been interested in ballet because he saw his sister doing it, but he was reluctant to join in.

“But then he did one of Ian’s masterclasses and loved it; being with other boys and doing ballet like boys do. He loves the high energy of it and the fact it’s a bit rougher and tougher than what the girls do. After seeing other boys dancing his confidence grew enormously.”

 

© Copyright 2016 Telegraph Media Group Limited

 

From RAD:

The Herald Scotland also reported the news: Meet the Scottish ballet star inspiring a new generation of Billy Elliots.

The RAD is working on a range of additional opportunities for boys and young men to engage in dance, which will be added throughout 2016. Opportunities currently available for booking are:

Boys Ballet Masterclass – London, 17 April

Boys Only! – Eastleigh, 25-26 June

Boys Day of Dance – Hinckley, 6 November

We are also planning an additional Boys Ballet Masterclass in Edinburgh in October, as well as activities in other parts of the UK. Please check www.rad.org.uk/maledance in due course.

 

 

 

Nich­olas and Julian MacKay out­side the Bolshoi Theatre June 2013

 

By Richard Ecke
Great Falls Tribune
November 24, 2014

 

[Bozemon, Montana, USA] – Julian MacKay of Bozeman is beginning to look a bit like a young Mikhail Baryshnikov. “I’m not so sure,” says MacKay via Skype from Moscow, as he prepared to leave the city for another performance.

Even if he shrugs off a resemblance to one of the finest male dancers ever, there’s no doubt MacKay appears to have a bright future in ballet. The 17-year-old MacKay studies at the Bolshoi Academy in Moscow, as does younger brother Nicholas. They live with their mother, accomplished photographer Teresa Khan MacKay, in a small apartment in Russia’s capital, just a few blocks away from the academy near the Moscow River, and not far from the seat of Russian government.

Julian and Nicholas MacKay are focusing on dancing, so the frosty relationship between the United States and Russian governments has little effect on them. They speak fluent Russian; observers often are surprised to learn the teenagers are Americans. “Being here in Moscow, I really adapted to the culture,” Julian said.

Ballet is a source of pride in a country where the Bolshoi is based, and during a holiday season in which “The Nutcracker,” a ballet by Russian Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, has been performed in many countries across the world. A Russian production of “The Nutcracker” was performed in Great Falls last week.

Julian has close Russian friends. He likes to think his good relationships with fellow dancers, and the abilities he shows on stage, count for something. “I’m really happy to represent the United States at a time like this,” Julian said.

The boys’ mother, Teresa, has noticed sanctions against Russia have driven up food prices, and sanctions also prompted several of Teresa’s American friends in Russia to pack up and leave the country. But despite such international tensions, Julian is poised to make history. “I will be the first (academy) graduate with a full Russian diploma” from the United States,” Julian said.

Living in Moscow and traveling around Europe is pricey, and Teresa said her family sincerely appreciates the sponsorship of Loren and Jill Bough of Big Sky, whose help has enabled the boys to continue to study dance in the heart of Russia.

Julian hadn’t competed for prizes at dance competitions until the summer, when he embarked on a trip that gained him notice in the dance world.

The first stop was Sochi, site of the 2012 Winter Olympic Games in Russia. Julian was one of the dancers representing the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in the Yuri Gregorovich Ballet Competition in Sochi, which takes place every two years, and he garnered a bronze medal in his age group.

“Sochi was a great experience,” Julian said. “She (his academy director) told me that she was so proud of me. For her, I was Russian.” He danced in four different genres — classical, Russian story, character and modern. Sochi was beautiful, and “the theater there is amazing,” Julian added.

Julian performed so well that he qualified for another competition in Istanbul, Turkey. “I felt like I was on this winning streak,” Julian said. But first he and his mother had to make their way to Istanbul. On the way, their train halted for four hours near the Black Sea, and the MacKays sweltered for two hours; the windows didn’t open to the outside. That delay was “not something you’d want to repeat,” Julian said in understatement. “It was just filled with Russians on vacation.”

Neither Julian nor his mother got much sleep in the dash to Turkey. “I slept for maybe an hour,” he said. So you might expect an exhausted Julian to be a flop in Istanbul. Instead, Julian stayed focused and in the zone. “I was calmer and maybe more mentally prepared,” Julian said. He performed two dances in Turkey, a classical piece and a contemporary one, in each of two rounds.

In Instanbul, Julian captured a gold medal in his group. Spectators knew Julian was representing the Bolshoi Academy, but many didn’t know his country of origin. “I don’t think at first they realized,” Julian said. “I don’t really have an accent in Russian.”

As Julian recalled, “All the Turkish people were so nice and so happy to give me the award,” he said. “I even had some fans.”

He received his prized from Vladimir Malakhov, director of the Berlin ballet company, where one of his sisters has danced. In fact, both sisters, Maria Sascha Khan and Nadia Khan, dance professionally in Europe. Talk about a dancing family.

After the thrilling results in Turkey, Julian is six months away from graduating from the academy, where he has studied for six years. He would love to continue to dance in Russia for two years after he graduates; he already has offers.

Julian has avoided serious injury; good training “is keeping me in one piece,” he said.

 

Younger brother

Julian’s younger brother, Nicholas, is no slouch, either. Nicholas has three more years to go at the academy, assuming he meets the qualifications. He will take crucial exams next month and in May to determine if he will continue.

“I have had to make my own way at the school,” said Nicholas, who has mastered the Russian language. “This year is very important to me.”

Nicholas has a male teacher these days, and if he passes his tests he will advance to the academy’s upper level next year. In the meantime, he is immersed in dance.

He recalled one role in an amusing ballet called “Wash ‘Em Clean” on the Bolshoi stage, “about a boy who doesn’t want to wash himself.”

“I was a dancing tooth, and I changed onstage into a school boy,” Nicholas said. He performed in that play two years in a row.

“He’s still very American,” his mother says.

Nicholas is hoping to take part in dancing competitions as his brother has. “In July, I went to the Royal Ballet School in London,” he said.

Nicholas said he accompanied his family on Julian’s competitions this summer, “watching him be awesome.”

 

Mom’s musings

While Teresa, Julian and Nicholas live in Moscow, Gregory MacKay holds down the fort in Bozeman.

Video conferencing with Skype helps. “They talk to their Dad on average a couple times a day,” Teresa said. “We miss our dogs.” She speaks a small amount of Russian.

If the boys continue to excel at dance, and finances hold out, Teresa and the boys may remain in Russia for up to three years. But it can be lonely at times. “You don’t think that at 50 you’re going to move to Russia and leave your husband at home,” she said. “I really miss Montana and living there.”

Meanwhile, Julian is attracting notice: “The Russian press has written about him,” she said. Teresa said he has gained the nickname “Apollo,” and one female Russian dance critic witnessed his first performance in a solo role and mused “that she hoped (Julian) didn’t leave Russia.”

Julian got hooked on dance at age four in Washington, D.C., watching a ballet in which his sister performed.

“You do see ballet families,” Teresa she said, although neither parent danced.

What’s common among dancers who succeed is a drive to excel, she said.

“That is one of the characteristics: wanting to do it better,” Teresa Khan MacKay said.

 

Copyright 2014 Great Falls Tribune

 

 

Read more about Nicholas and Julian:

Young American at the Bolshoi: Julian MacKay wins Sochi and Istanbul medals (external link)  7-13-14

Dancing with the Khan-MacKay family 12/31/13

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

 

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