At the age of 18, Anna Lee Edmondson of Milford, DE, is preparing to travel to Russia in her ongoing efforts to pursue a career as a professional ballerina. Spending a year at Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, Edmondson will learn from some of the world’s top dancers. Approaching its 275th Anniversary, Vaganova Ballet Academy was founded in 1738 by decree of Empress Anna the I of Russia. The Imperial Ballet School became the country’s first educational establishment to provide professional ballet training. A feverishly competitive process, 3,000 students apply each year worldwide with only 300 being accepted.
“I am excited to learn more of the way in which Russian schools teach,” said Edmondson. “Russian ballet is really systematic and you build on what you have learned before. It can also allow you to learn other styles as well.”
Anna recently graduated from the Kirov Academy of Ballet of Washington DC, after completing four years of classical ballet training, with scholarship. Her teachers included Yuliya Rakova, Marianna Lobanova and Tamara Manukovskaya. Accepted to several ballet opportunities in the United States and overseas during her term, Anna’s artistic director recommended that she apply to the year long international trainee program of the Vaganova School associated with the Mariinsky Ballet in St Petersburg, Russia.
As very few dancers are chosen from around the world to train at Vaganova, Anna decided to postpone other professional ballet company opportunities while she pursues further training in Russia. She has also taken a deferral from the University of Delaware World Scholar Program as well. Taking a unique path at the beginning of her journey into adulthood, Edmondson is confident in her decisions.
“College was more of a backup plan, I knew I wanted to continue with ballet and once I got into the school, I decided this is what I was meant to do.”
Anna began dancing at age 3 and studied for over ten years at the First State Dance Academy under the direction of Michelle Xiques. She has appeared in productions with Delaware Dance Alliance, including The Nutcracker Ballet, Pirates of the Caribbean, Twilight Ballet and Alice in Wonderland. She has also appeared in numerous productions with Diamond Dance Company, including dancing the roles of Clara and Dewdrop in The Nutcracker Ballet, and has studied at First State Ballet Theatre in Wilmington, DE. For two summers, she performed at Burklyn Ballet Theatre in Johnson, VT, and was chosen to perform in a production of the Little Mermaid with Burklyn Ballet at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in Scotland. She is a past recipient of a dance scholarship from the Diane Drulis Foundation, as well as artistic scholarships from Burklyn Ballet Theatre. During her studies at Kirov Academy of Ballet of Washington DC, Anna performed in several productions including A Storybook Sleeping Beauty and The Nutcracker Ballet and a solo variation in Don Quixote.
“Anna is consistent, dedicated and a hard worker all with natural talents,” said Xiques. “She has already received professional job offers but respectfully turned them down to pursue Vaganova.” As to where Edmondson’s training in Russia will lead her, Xiques makes it clear that “It will be a matter of where she wants to go.”
Students of this prestigious school in Russia have gone on to become dancers with ballet companies worldwide including the Mariinsky Ballet, Bolshoi Ballet, The Royal Ballet, and the American Ballet Theatre. Anna will soon make her trip across the world, moving even closer to her dream of becoming a professional ballerina.
“I really enjoy performing and also the time put into it,” said Edmondson. “[Ballet] is very challenging but really fun once you get it. You get to see your hard work pay off.”