'Nothing is impossible': Mexican follows dream in Russia

 Imperial Russian Ballet Company ballerina Mayela Marcos. Photo supplied.
Imperial Russian Ballet Company ballerina Mayela Marcos. Photo supplied.
Mayela Marcos followed her dreams of being a ballet dancer across the world. She tells Rebecca Fox about her journey to the Imperial Russian Ballet Company.

Telling her parents she wanted to leave home to learn ballet in Russia was not easy for Mayela Marcos.

Not only was she a teenager at the time, but she also lived in Mexico.

''They were like no, no, it's too far,'' she said of her parents' reaction.

They wanted her to stay, study at university in Mexico and ultimately join the family business.

''I wanted to follow my dreams.''

Marcos had been dancing since she was a small child and decided when she was only 9 years old that she wanted to be a professional dancer.

''I like it so much. I like when I get flowers.''

For Marcos, Russian ballet is the best in the world. The Imperial Russian Ballet Company was formed in 1994 by Bolshoi Theatre soloist Gediminas Taranda.

''It's always been the Russians. They are the best ballet touring around the world.''

Marcos won her argument with her parents and headed to Russia to study at the Bolshoi Ballet School for three years.

Moving to Russia was a culture shock, she said.

''Mexico is so different. In Mexico, in my home town, the minimum temperature is 5degC. In Russia it was -16degC. It was freezing.''

The food and the people were different but it was all worth it, she said.

''This is the one dream I want to follow. Nothing is impossible. But the first six months was so hard.''

She had now been in Russia for seven years. She tried to get home for the Christmas holidays each year, but admitted the long flights meant it was a short break.

The distance had not deterred her from following her dreams, as she continued to dance for the Imperial Russian Ballet Company, although she will take a break from that to complete her master's at the Bolshoi Theatre.

She loved touring the world with the ballet company and experiencing the different cultures of the likes of Australia and New Zealand.

In this tour, she and the other 39 dancers, wardrobe, make-up and production personnel were away from their Russian homes for three months which required some inventive packing.

''It's so funny I have everything in my suitcase. When we arrived in Australia, it was 30degC. Today in Adelaide it's 12degC.''

Marcos made the most of the little time off they had when travelling to do the ''touristy'' things in new places.

The Nutcracker, famous for Tchaikovsky's music, in which she is dancing for the New Zealand tour, is one of her absolute favourites because it involves lots of children.

The Nutcracker ballet is based on the book The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, written by E.T.A Hoffman. In 1891, choreographer Marius Petipa commissioned Tchaikovsky to write the score for the ballet and in 1892 The Nutcracker was first shown at the Mariinsky Theatre in Russia.

It has since been interpreted in many different ways. The Russian company's version is set in an old German town at the beginning of the last century.

The story is of a mysterious toy-maker who comes to visit a family over Christmas. He brings toys for the household's two children, Clara and Fritz and Clara is particularly taken by one toy, the Nutcracker. The ensuing adventures she encounters blur the line between dream and reality.

The ballet company invites children from local ballet schools in the cities where they perform to take part in the performance.

''The Nutcracker at Christmas is pretty magical, pretty cool.''

A Russian ballet teacher travels to each location to provide specialised tuition six weeks prior to the performances. Then about 30 to 40 selected children attend a masterclass on the afternoon of each performance and perform onstage with the company's dancers.

''I love children. I really enjoy dancing with them.''

It was for this reason she had decided to do her master's, as she would one day like to teach ballet.

''A ballerina has a short life - maybe to 30 or 45 - so many look at choreography or directing. I decide I love children.''

She envisages returning to Mexico after she finishes with the dance company to teach a future generation of ballet dancers.

''Dancers like me.''

To see

The Nutcracker, Oamaru Opera House, Oamaru November 22; Civic Theatre, Invercargill, November 23; Regent Theatre, Dunedin, November 24

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