We had a chance to see the future of our ballet generation which AI 13 brought together in our school.

Posted: June 20 by Masha Shcherbyna/Canada's National Ballet School

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My experience at Assemblée Internationale 2013 (AI 13)

When I was 5 years old my parents enrolled me in a ballet class to improve my posture. Since then, dance has become a big part of my life. It makes me laugh and cry and brings so much joy into my life that it has become as essential to my being as breathing. My name is Masha Shcherbyna and this is my first year as a grade nine student at Canada’s National Ballet School. The very school that hosted an amazing event called Assemblée Internationale (AI 13) in April-May 2013.
The last time I saw so many dancers in one room was in a ballet competition. AI 13 has a different philosophy. Dancers from all around the world are not competing but showcasing their choreography skills and learning from world-renowned ballet teachers and choreographers as well as from each other. Over a hundred dancers assembled for seven days to learn, teach and experience dance.  It’s a brilliant idea of bringing dance, world-level teachers and cultures together.
They say: “When you are having fun, the time flies by in a second.”  We had a time of our lives participating in AI 13. Too bad it ended so quickly.  I remember Monday morning just as if it were yesterday.  The anticipation was heating up as we woke up and headed down to have our breakfast. Our excitement had reached its peak when we saw these beautiful dancers from different schools come into Currie Hall for their breakfast. They all came in groups proudly representing their countries.
At NBS, only grade 10 to grade 12 students were included as participants in AI 13. However, we were allowed to observe the classes that were taught by various teachers from all parts of the globe. It was a very enlightening experience because students from all different schools took the classes and all of them had such distinguished styles. While watching the classes, I discovered that sitting for two hours is much more tiresome than you think. But, most importantly, we were incredibly moved and inspired by the effort and artistry of the dancers. These hours of watching talented dancers rehearse and take ballet classes definitely translated into our extra efforts to point our feet and align our postures in our regular ballet classes that week.  I felt very proud to be a part of Canada’s National Ballet School that managed to bring together the entire dance world in one Canadian city. 
Before AI 13, I decided that from each class I would take at least one thing away for me to put towards my training. I carefully watched technical styles and paid attention to tricks that teachers were showing. Then I would create analogies that would help me to correct myself. After watching classes taught by representatives of different schools, I can now really tell what each school focuses on and what kind of style they are looking for. It is invaluable knowledge to have for any dancer going into auditions and we are very fortunate to be exposed to this when we are just 14.
Of course each class I watched was absolutely breathtaking and amazing in its own way, but there was one class that really stood out for me. It was taught by Claudio Munoz, from the Houston Ballet Academy.  In his class all of the dancers were so comfortable and motivated to DANCE! Everybody started out class looking tired and jet lagged, but Mr. Munoz managed to get everybody relaxed and laughing. I felt so happy watching the students respond to Mr. Munoz’s funny comments and my mood was lifted for the whole day afterwards.
I took away something really special from this particular teacher. He was very focused on bringing out the personality of each dancer. Everybody can develop good technique, but how do you stand out in auditions with a hundred other dancers? This teacher really focused on making sure that young dancers were comfortable and helped them express their artistry through dance and smile. He got everyone to smile even if they didn’t felt like it that morning. By the end of the class, everyone wanted to smile, including us, jealous ninth graders observing this wonderful class.
Thinking about this experience I thought how lucky we are. We had a chance to see the future of our ballet generation which AI 13 brought together in our school. These dancers are yesterday’s students and tomorrow’s principals. It was an amazing feeling, witnessing how dancers become choreographers and how they improve in less than a week. If I were to choose one word to describe AI 13 it would be “inspirational.” I took away so much and I’m just so glad I was a part of this unbelievable event.  As Anna Pavlova, one of my favorite ballerinas once said: “No one can arrive from being talented alone, work transforms talent into genius.” Assemble Internationale is a beautiful example of how important “real work” is to become a “beyond talented” dancer. Every ballet class counts!  My whole experience at Assemblée Internationale was truly eye opening and changed my attitude towards every day efforts and what it takes to be a dancer.

Masha Shcherbyna

Masha Shcherbyna: Canada's National Ballet School

Guest Blogger, Masha Shcherbyna is a Grade 9 student at Canada's National Ballet School.
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