Glasgow & West Scotland

Scot Hayley Stobo's 'surreal' life at Bolshoi ballet

Hayley Stobo
Image caption Hayley said the gruelling training regime took its toll on her body

The first Scottish dancer to graduate from the Bolshoi Ballet's academy has described her time in Moscow as the most surreal experience of her life.

Hayley Stobo won a place at the world famous academy three years ago.

After dealing with the extreme cold and gruelling training regime, she has graduated with a full Artist of Ballet Diploma.

Hayley has now returned to Scotland where is hoping to win a place with an international ballet company.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland's Newsdrive programme, she recalled how her journey began when her mother received an email from the Bolshoi at the family's home in Renfrew.

She added: "My mum actually phoned me at school and I couldn't understand a word she was saying because she was screaming so much and she had to call me back.

"When she phoned back everyone around me was screaming. I was so overwhelmed that it definitely didn't sink in.

"It was the most surreal experience of my life. I've had some of the best and worst experiences of my life over in Russia but I would never change anything that happened because it has definitely made me the person that I am today which I am forever thankful to them for."

With her body struggling to cope with the cold temperatures in Moscow, which regularly dropped below -20C in winter, Hayley also had to learn a whole new style of ballet through lessons which were taught in Russian.

She said: "My body didn't take very well to the climate and stuff so I had a lot of illness and a lot of injuries.

"Every single day my body was dying but just through hard work and through everything they taught me I had to learn a whole new technique. I had to change everything I had learned since I was little.

"Injuries were bound to come because the level of training had increased compare to what I was dancing in Scotland so my body just shut down a little bit, but touch wood this year I've been pretty dandy and I'm feeling good."

Hayley had English-speaking company at the ballet in the shape of fellow Britons Natalie Carter and Daniel Dolan, and said she hopes many of the friendships she made in Moscow will endure.

"One of the things I'll miss more is the people that I've met (in Moscow)", she said.

"I got really close to two of the Japanese girls that were in my class and saying goodbye to them was difficult because I know Japan's not a place I'm going to be regularly visiting.

"Whereas the people I spoke to from England like Natalie Daniel - obviously London's only a little train away so if I wanted to see them I could pop up."

Cirque du Soleil

She added: "I need to find a job which is kind of scary but its just auditioning - I'm waiting to hear back from a couple of companies, one in Italy one in Portugal.

"Cirque du Soleil asked me to audition for them which is exciting but I couldn't make the audition because of my graduation date.

"It's just mental times just now and waiting and hoping, but my mum always says what's for you wont go by you and that's something I stand by as well."

Hayley began to dance at the age of two at the Elma White School of Dance in Paisley, Renfrewshire, then did two years of classes with Scottish Ballet.

When she was 11 she was accepted to the Dance School of Scotland in Knightswood, Glasgow, where she trained for five years.

She was offered a place at the Bolshoi after she sent tutors a 10-minute DVD of her performances.

The teenager was unsure if she would be able to pursue her dream, however, as she did not have funding, and tuition fees alone cost about £13,000 a year.

Her place was eventually funded by the Genesis Foundation, a UK-based charity which aims to nurture and develop emerging talents until they reach a point of sustainability.

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