It’s a long way from Aspen to Moscow, but Remy Lamping has adjusted to the distance and the culture changes just fine.
Lamping, a 17-year-old Aspen native and former student and dancer with the School of Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, is enrolled in a professional traineeship with the prestigious Bolshoi Ballet Academy. She has one year left in the three-year program.
“I like it personally,” she said. “There are some other students who find it really different from their cultures. We have three or four people per room in our dorms. We all share the same bathroom. There are kids there from all over the world. All of our classes are in Russian. You have to pick it up fast, or else you just fall behind.”
Attending the school and living in Moscow is quite an expense, she said. The tuition alone is 20,000 euros annually, or about $27,000. A fundraiser to help with her tuition and other costs will be held in the conference room of the Red Brick Building at 110 E. Hallam St. from 4 to 6 p.m. Wednesday. Light refreshments will be served.
Lamping said she’s learned more in her two years with the Moscow academy than perhaps all of her other years of training combined. That’s saying a lot, considering she started out at age 4 and her natural talent and previous training helped with her selection to the Bolshoi school. Local aficionados of the art might remember her performances as Clara in the Aspen Santa Fe Ballet production of “The Nutcracker” at the Aspen District Theatre in 2008 and 2009.
“I think it’s the most beautiful, but also the hardest, form of art,” she said of ballet. “The feeling on stage is like no other. But to get on stage, you have to put in so much work. But then you’re there, and it looks like the easiest thing in the world, but it’s actually not.”
One big difference at the academy, compared with American ballet schools, is the instruction she receives in acting, she said.
“In Russia, the ballet is very theatrical,” Lamping said. “They spare no expense to make it big. Everyone there loves the ballet; they sit at the edge of their seats.”
An exciting aspect of being in Russia was seeing the premiere of the Aspen Santa Fe Company in Moscow in March.
“That was exciting because sometimes in Russia they’re not open to Americans or people of different races, and the Aspen company has many different types of people,” Lamping said. “I thought it might be controversial, but they were really well-received. And I got to go on stage and give them flowers at the end, which was fun.”
The dance training and language instruction in Russia have proved rigorous, she said, but she’s adjusted and is getting excellent grades.
“The teachers are different,” Lamping said. “They don’t just sit there and tell you what you’re doing wrong — they’ll come over and push you and show you. Teachers don’t do that in America because I think they’re probably afraid they’re going to get sued. In Russia, they’re much stricter, and you’re expected to keep up at the level they’re going at, and if you don’t, then you just fall behind and the next girl comes up and moves ahead of you.”
At the Bolshoi Ballet Academy, the competition for roles in productions and positions in class is fierce, Lamping said.
“It’s competitive because everyone in the program is the top of the top,” she said. “They only take the best people, so you have to really push yourself. You have to stay on your game, or else you might get a lower grade. They have their favorites who are always in the middle of a bar. The judges won’t see you if you are standing on the side the whole time.”
But Lamping has emerged as one of the front-and-center students; in May, she was one of three international female students — most of the students are Russians — who took part in a tour to the city of Kazan during the two-week Rudolf Nureyev International Ballet Festival.
“Our school was one day of that festival, and we got to travel there and perform,” she said. “It was a 14-hour train ride and a cool experience. I’ve gotten to perform six times at the Bolshoi Theatre itself: three times on the new, huge stage and three times on the little stage next to it.”
Lamping said she prefers classic ballet compared with modern because she likes the aspect of telling stories compared with mere movement. Home-schooled, she grew up reading fairy tales, and that led to her profound interest in the art of ballet. After she graduates from the academy, she wants to join a ballet company, preferably in Europe.
“In America, it’s sad because if you tell someone you’re a ballet dancer and maybe you’re not going to college because you have to start your career earlier, people might look down on you,” she said. “Whereas in Russia, you get immediate respect. The dancers there are superstars, and everyone knows who they are. They all love their ballet, and they are very well-informed. The ballet is on TV often.”