Ballerina takes big step forward 

While many of her friends prepare for the combined anxiety and excitement in anticipation of their first year at college, Alexandra Martin will travel to Russia to study ballet, culture and language.

For Martin, it’s the chance of a lifetime.

The 18-year-old San Francisco native has been invited to study at Russia’s Bolshoi Ballet Academy, a prestigious school that only the world’s best are invited to.

"It’s definitely a confidence booster," Martin said. "I’m definitely amazed and happy, especially as an American, knowing I have the potential to train with some of the best teachers in the world."

The invite to study abroad is part of the Security Language Initiative for Youth program, funded by the U.S. State Department and Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. Martin is one of 10 high school students nationwide who will spend six weeks, from July to August, studying the Russian language, culture and ballet.

Martin said she would ultimately like to perform professionally in the ballet, and this program and opportunity could put her on that track.

Though it’s not the first time she has traveled to Russia to study ballet, Martin said, it may offer her the opportunity to study for one year at the academy.

She said she began dancing when she was 3 years old. She trained with another ballet company before switching as a 16-year-old to City Ballet for pre-professional training.

Martin said her teachers have all studied at Bolshoi and she’s looking forward to learning more about the dance and the Russian culture.

Rina Kirshner, vice president of the Russian American Foundation in New York, said Martin is a very talented dancer.

"We are excited to hear that she has a sincere interest in Russian culture," Kirshner said. "Our impression is we believe her to be a very talented dancer."

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