The upper stage of the Bolshoi Theatre: a small auditorium located under the building’s roof, complete with a small orchestra pit and audience seating that mimics the actual stage where performances are held. It is a hallowed yet impressive space, and today it’s empty except for a small team of six people: Alyona Kovalyova, her partner Yakopo Tissi, two coaches, a pianist, the conductor…and me. It is just five days before Kovalyova and Tissi’s debut in Swan Lake. As the dancers rehearse, their coaches, former Bolshoi soloist Alexander Vetrov and former Kirov ballerina Olga Chenchikova, lead the rehearsals to the sounds of a single piano onstage. The conductor for the premiere, Aleksey Bogorad, sits to mark notes about the score and inquires frequently about the tempo while the rehearsal goes on.

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