Former Issaquah student heads to Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Russia

Chloe Heninger has wanted to become a Bolshoi Ballerina for as long as she can remember.

Chloe Heninger has wanted to become a Bolshoi Ballerina for as long as she can remember.

This summer, the 13-year-old former Issaquah Middle School student’s dream became closer to reality – when she received an offer to spend the school year at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

A student at the Emerald Ballet Theatre in Bellevue since she was six years old, Chloe first became interested in Russian style ballet when she began working with Viktoria Titova – a former Bolshoi Ballerina and current artistic director at the studio.

On Oct. 11, Chloe and her mother flew to Moscow, where the dancer will spend the next nine months training with some of the most well-respected ballet instructors in the world.

“It’s always been her goal to go to Bolshoi, and I was worried that she might never get to do that,” said Chloe’s mother, Kristin Bennett. “It’s amazing that she gets to live her dream.”

But the dream almost didn’t become a reality.

Due to financial constraints, Chloe’s mother was not going to be able to travel with her to Russia – until Preston-based beverage company TalkingRain, offered to help.

The company, which has been a sponsor of the Bellevue-based ballet school for several years, donated $1,500 toward airfare and hotel.

“Knowing so much about ballet – and how big of an achievement this is, it was a given,” said Vivian Page, VP of Human Resources for TalkingRain. Page’s daughter currently takes lessons at Emerald Ballet with Chloe.

“We are very thankful they were so generous,” said Bennett, who will return to the states after helping get Chloe settled in Moscow.

Titova said Chloe is one of the hardest working, most passionate students she has ever taught. And citing the girl’s extreme dedication, and her voracious drive to succeed, Chloe’s mother agrees.

“She’s driven to the point where she wants to go to dance class before parties – before going on vacation,” Bennett said.

This dedication has manifested in an intense practice schedule for the dancer: the 13-year old spends three to four hours a day, five days a week practicing. Leading up to her trip to Russia, she increased her practice schedule to six days a week.

Titova says this schedule, and Chloe’s “dancer’s heart” has helped her to become an extremely advanced technical dancer. One example being that Chloe can do more than 50 consecutive faute turns – on pointe shoes – where most dancers struggle with the standard 32.

In addition to training with Titova, Chloe spent last summer in Connecticut, doing an intensive summer program with Bolshoi instructors through the Russian American Foundation. That’s where she first caught the attention of the instructors; in August she received a surprise letter in the mail, asking if she would like to study full-time.

As well as taking part in a number of intense ballet classes, Chloe will take the majority of her academic classes online. Along with the other international students, Chloe will also have the opportunity to learn Russian – something she’s been interested in since she was young.

“All of my teachers speak Russian to each other and I would love to be able to communicate with them,” Chloe said.

And while she’s nervous about the experience, she is ready for the challenge.

“This is what I’ve been wanting to do my whole life,” Chloe said.