December saw temperatures drop really, really low- I left Moscow at crazy minus twenty. Luckily, I was too busy packing and organising my things to need to leave the Academy for much more than a short trip to the supermarket!
On our last class (I still did ballet technique class and pointe class on the Saturday I left- there were just four of us which was brilliant, almost personal, training!), we said goodbye to our teacher, who told us not to do any classes over the holiday- only to stretch- as she wanted us fresh and ready to train intensively for our end of year exam and to rehearse for the upcoming concert audition in March.
That day was extremely surreal; I couldn’t believe that, in a few hours, I would be home. This strangeness was intensified by the way in which each stage of my travelling went smoothly- before I knew it, I was in Heathrow (which still didn’t feel like I was in Britain), then Manchester (my mum cried when she saw me!) and, in next to no time, home. I had my favourite home-made mango smoothie when I got home – then I knew I was back!
While home, I’ve spent time seeing everyone I wanted to see. I’ve seen all my friends and family, my old dancing teachers at Fearons Middleton School for Dance and caught up on all the latest films – Life of Pi was really good and didn’t disappoint even though I’d already read the book. I also saw the Hobbit as I loved the Lord of the Rings trilogy. For my birthday I went out in Leeds with a couple of friends which was fab and I spent Christmas and New Year with family at home eating lots of wonderful food and relaxing.
My old primary school, Carlton Primary, did a sponsored dance to help with my fundraising campaign so I visited my former teachers there, as well; it is so touching to have people organising events such as this for me and I am extremely thankful. I was a special guest at their assembly where they presented me with a cheque. The pupils were all really lovely – I told them about my aspirations to be a dancer whilst at Carlton and what I had been up to since leaving at aged 11 which eventually led me to auditioning for the Bolshoi and ending up in Moscow. They then asked me some questions – it was lovely as they were all putting their hands up to try and ask questions – they asked really good ones too!
I also appeared on the BBC’s One Show as they had made a small film of my preparations and arrival at the Bolshoi in the summer and wanted to show it with me in the studio. I had a great time at One Show studio – we had a tour around the BBC TV Centre earlier as well – it was fun to meet Matt Baker and Gaby Logan, who were lovely and really interested in my experience in Moscow, particularly as they had both trained as gymnasts, and to have my hair and makeup done! We also chatted loads with Chris Hollins who was on the show promoting his new TV show. He was really interested in my dance training but was very modest about his Strictly achievement!
Earlier in the day we had also met with Michael Dugher, our local MP, who had invited us to Westmister Palace. Michael has done lots to support my fundraising campaign so it was lovely to meet him at last!
As a Christmas and birthday present from my Mum, we combined the trip to London with lunch at the Islington restaurant of my favourite chef, Yotam Ottolenghi- it was out of this world! But I didn’t expect to be disappointed… the food is really amazing. I use his recipe books to cook with all the time and this Christmas hasn’t been an exception – I’ve loved being back home, able to spend lots of time cooking in the kitchen.
I’ve packed my suitcase today but it was by no means a depressing task; I’m so excited to get back into my training and seeing what 2013 brings in the world of ballet and Moscow.