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Island freshman dances in Russia

Rina Shimizu, left, a freshman at MIHS, performs on stage at the Estrada Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, along with her Kirkland-based dance class. - Contributed photo
Rina Shimizu, left, a freshman at MIHS, performs on stage at the Estrada Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia, along with her Kirkland-based dance class.
— image credit: Contributed photo

Rina Shimizu, a freshman at Mercer Island High School, recently visited St. Petersburg, Russia, as part of a cultural study hosted by the International School of Classical Ballet in Kirkland. Shimizu has been a student at the school for one year.

While in St. Petersburg, Shimizu and 12 other students took classes at the Vaganova Ballet Academy and attended a performance at The Mariinsky Theatre. The Mariinsky is one of the world’s leading ballet companies, where Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker” made its debut in 1892. The group also put on its own show, performing in the Estrada Theater along with Russian dancers.

While not on stage, Shimizu and her classmates toured the historic St. Petersburg, visiting museums, cathedrals and ornate palaces. The experience, Shimizu said, was once in a lifetime.

“The view of the palace and the cathedrals was amazing. We went to Spilt Blood Church and Catherine the Great’s palace, which was my favorite,” the 14-year-old said.

The MIHS student was also inspired by the dancers she met in St. Petersburg.

“They were beautiful. They have amazing technique. Their bodies are very structured,” she said.

Shimizu is one of 13 students who study classical ballet as part of the International Ballet Theatre’s professional development program. The dance school is committed to the preservation of classical ballet repertory.

The young dancer has been performing since she was 4 years old. She hopes to become a professional ballerina one day and, maybe, return to St. Petersburg.

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