A ballet journey with Oxana Isaeva | Sunday Observer
Preserving elegance and grace:

A ballet journey with Oxana Isaeva

6 August, 2023

In the heart of Colombo, where culture and tradition intertwine, a remarkable opportunity unfurled its wings.

The Russian School of Ballet and Dancing, nestled within the elegant confines of the Russian House, has long been a bastion of classical Russian Ballet in Sri Lanka. This institution, with a history stretching back for decades, has been fostering grace, poise, and confidence among its students. Now, with a keen eye on the future, the school is ready to spread its wings and share the art of ballet with a wider audience.

Stepping into the limelight of this endeavor is Oxana Isaeva, an illustrious ballet dancer whose journey has taken her from the hallowed halls of the Moscow State Academy of Choreography to stages graced by ballet legends. Her resplendent career saw her dancing with prestigious troupes like the Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow Renaissance Ballet Theater, Russian Imperial Ballet Theater, and the Kremlin Ballet Theater. Her remarkable performances, often in solo roles, have resonated in some of the world's most respected venues, leaving audiences in awe of her prowess.

Oxana's passion for dance is unwavering, but her journey was not without its crossroads. As she reflected on her path, she revealed, "There was a moment when I hesitated whether I should continue dancing at different ballet troupes. That is when I thought of the teaching avenue and also, with that, I started organizing ballet concerts, and I worked as a manager." Despite the challenges, her heart always resonated with the call of dance. An encounter with the legendary Maya Mikhailovna Plisetskaya at the Bolshoi Theatre left an indelible mark on her. "It was a great honour to dance with her in the same stage," she recalled with a smile.

Amid her illustrious career, Oxana's experiences have melded into a unique tapestry that enriches her approach to teaching. "I collected mini-episodes from every teacher that I met and I created my own story. Everything I learnt stayed with me forever, and I am giving the same experience to my children as well," she said. Her dedication to preserving the art of ballet and passing on her knowledge is what brings her to the shores of Sri Lanka.

Her ballet workshop which was held last week promised an immersive experience like no other. Oxana's teachings go beyond mere technique; they encompass the essence of ballet – a harmonious marriage of body and emotion.

Participants not only refined their physical prowess but also discovered the intricate dance between body and soul that defines ballet. The five-day workshop catered to a diverse range of participants – from beginners with a spark of curiosity to intermediate dancers seeking to refine their skills.

The workshop was set to kindle a newfound passion for ballet in the hearts of Sri Lankan dancers. With Oxana's guidance, participants were immersed in a world of warm-up exercises, stretching techniques, jumps, and spine-strengthening routines – all underpinned by the classical principles of ballet. For those young dancers who aspired to create poetry with their bodies, this workshop was a golden opportunity.

Beyond technique, Oxana imparts the invaluable connection between a dancer's body and their emotions. "It is a harmony between your body and emotions, a way of communication," she emphasized. The importance of maintaining facial expressions and projecting emotions through body language are the nuances that Oxana was eager to share.

As the ballet enthusiasts of Sri Lanka embark on this journey, Oxana's insights become their guiding light. Her words of wisdom are a beacon for those with dreams of ballet stardom: "Never stop trying and never give up on your dreams." With perseverance, dedication, and a commitment to daily practice, aspiring dancers can pave their way to success.

Oxana envisions a future where ballet thrives in the cultural tapestry of Sri Lanka. Her workshops are a springboard, igniting the spark of ballet among talented youth. She envisions a dedicated ballet academy in Colombo, where the seeds planted today can blossom into a flourishing hub of classical dance education. "Creativity is unlimited, and talent can be born anywhere," she affirms.

Oxana Isaeva, a distinguished ballet dancer and graduate of the illustrious Moscow State Academy of Choreography, has a treasure trove of experiences that have shaped her journey. Among these, one particular memory shines with a special brilliance – an encounter with royalty that etched itself into the annals of her career.

As Oxana's graceful presence graced the stages of renowned ballet companies, including the revered Bolshoi Theatre, her artistry caught the attention of distinguished audiences. One such occasion was an exclusive performance for Her Majesty, the late queen. During a private tour with the Bolshoi Theatre, Oxana and her fellow dancers were honored with a personal invitation to showcase their craft.

Recalling the ethereal moment, Oxana's eyes light up with a blend of nostalgia and awe. "We were dancing for a snippet from the golden age of ballet," she reminisces. Her Majesty extended her hand, a gesture of gratitude and appreciation that spoke volumes beyond words. "I was so excited," Oxana confesses, her voice a whisper carrying the weight of a memory etched into her very being.

When asked about her thoughts on introducing and promoting classical ballet in Sri Lanka, Oxana's eyes light up with a blend of enthusiasm and hope. "I wish I had the opportunity to promote classical ballet," she confides. Her words carry the weight of a vision that sees ballet not just as a dance form, but as a conduit for nurturing talent, discipline, and artistic expression.

Oxana's sentiment is echoed by Maria Popova, the Director of the Russian House in Colombo, who has had the privilege of witnessing Oxana's transformative impact on young dancers. "Oksana pays attention to every single student," Maria attests, her voice carrying a note of admiration. She recalls a mesmerizing scene where Oxana's presence enthralled young dancers, transforming them into eager followers, much like stars tracing the path of a fallen celestial body.

The potential of Sri Lankan dancers, according to Oxana, is boundless. "The children here in Sri Lanka are very talented," she observes. However, the challenge lies in providing them with the right opportunities and support to cultivate their talents.

Drawing from her experience in Russian ballet schools, Oxana envisions a holistic approach where ballet education is harmoniously woven into the fabric of young dancers' lives. "In Russian ballet schools, almost all the ballet schools include other academic subjects too," she shares, emphasizing the importance of a balanced education that nurtures both body and mind.

For Oxana, the desire to introduce classical ballet goes beyond imparting technical skills; it is about fostering a love for the art form, nurturing creativity, and instilling discipline. She envisions a world where aspiring dancers in Sri Lanka are offered the same opportunities she had to learn and grow. "I wish that the Sri Lankan students too had the same opportunity as I see really talented girls here," Oxana fervently expresses.

In the world of ballet, where every movement holds a story and every gesture is a brushstroke on the canvas of emotion, the connection between teacher and student is akin to a delicate dance of its own. To Oxana, the journey of a student is not just about mastering steps; it is a transformative experience that requires a profound understanding of the individual. "Students are students and they are performers," she muses, her words carrying the weight of wisdom earned through years of dedication. Recognizing the symbiotic relationship between teacher and student, Oxana emphasizes the significance of a personalized rapport that goes beyond the confines of the dance studio.

The connection between a ballet instructor and their protégé, according to Oxana, is a blend of artistry and emotional resonance. "The teacher and the student have to be emotionally connected," she asserts.

In Oxana's world, a ballet teacher dons multiple hats – a psychologist who understands the nuances of a dancer's mind, a nutritionist who fuels the body for optimal performance, and even a confidant who offers unwavering support. "The good teacher has to guide you by the hand," Oxana affirms, encapsulating the essence of her instructional philosophy. It's a journey where mentorship transcends choreography, and where the teacher's influence permeates every facet of a dancer's life.

With the Russian House in Colombo as a partner, the enchanting world of ballet is well on its way to becoming an integral part of Sri Lanka's artistic landscape. As Oxana herself believes, "I believe that in this paradise island many magical things could happen." With each graceful step taken at the workshop, the dreams of young dancers and the future of ballet in Sri Lanka intertwine, creating a mesmerizing dance of passion and perseverance.