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for dancers & dance enthusiasts

Interview with Marie "Masha" Sandler: Graduate 2021

Updated: Sep 18, 2021


Marie "Masha" Sandler

Started at Bayer Ballet: 2008

Bayer Ballet Graduation Year: 2021

University: Faculty of Science at University of British Columbia, Canada

International Major Entrance Scholarship. I hope to study Biology and Computer Science.

Why did you start doing ballet in your childhood and why do you like ballet now?

I started ballet at Bayer Ballet at age 5, as a fun activity to get some exercise but in a beautiful form. However, it quickly grew into so much more. Ballet became my outlet, creative, athletic, and emotional, and Bayer Ballet Academy became my second home. And the indescribable feeling of dance, of simultaneously being both free and in control, has kept me in love with ballet for the last 13 years.

Was ballet easy for you?

Both mentally and physically, I had a lot of times when I felt that I should give up. Being a very athletic artform, ballet has a lot of physical requirements, which seemed impossible to attain at times. The additional stress that comes naturally at a pre-professional school with the high expectations, certainly contributed to the self doubt. Ballet has endless challenges, which is definitely discouraging at times, but learning to treat ballet as a journey as opposed to a sport with scores helped me get through them. Furthermore, reflecting on what ballet meant to me, and finding my purpose and direction in ballet helped me move forward for myself. My friends’ and teachers’ belief in me, helped me stay on track and learn to continue working forward to overcome the struggles on the way.

Why do you love Bayer Ballet?

Bayer Ballet has given me opportunities to learn from such people and to dance such magical pieces that I’ll forever be grateful for and a sense of striving towards something. Beyond directly teaching us, Ms. Inna brought teachers from places that I could only have ever dreamed of, all of whom gave us detailed attention, towards technique and the Vaganova style. The Vaganova school always served as an epitome whose qualities we must strive for. The recent announcement that Bayer Ballet Academy became an official partner school of Vaganova Academy, shows not only the recognition of Ms. Inna’s and the school's dedication towards that goal, but also an opportunity to work forward and live up to this honor, as there is no endpoint in ballet. Ms. Inna always had high expectations for us, but that only speaks to the results, as anything she wanted us or the school to strive for, she helped us to achieve, on both a personal level and for the school as a whole, through both working with us and by providing endless opportunities.

Furthermore, the staff members who fit us for costumes, made our schedules, advertised our shows, or the other endless amounts of behind the scenes work truly helped make my time at Bayer Ballet Academy so valuable and unforgettable.

However, beyond just ballet, throughout my thirteen years at Bayer Ballet I have been through many highs and lows - whether due to ballet or due to something else. And whatever it was, everyone at the school, my friends, the teachers, the staff, everyone has been there for me through it all.

What has the school given you beyond ballet?

Bayer ballet’s community gave me a second family, with all of our late theater nights where we would study for finals in the little breaks, pre-class discussions, or enjoying our time together on the weekends. Going through stress together, but also doing what we all love, truly brought us close.

Ballet taught how to work through a challenge or struggle if I don’t succeed, how to stand up after failing, and how to know when to move on. I think beyond the grit that comes from working through almost any athletic activity, ballet taught me to reflect on how to not only do something, not only to do it correctly, but to work to be better every time I do it. Ballet requires your whole soul, and because of that, it taught me how to give it my all, regardless of the circumstances.

Pictured above: Marie Sandler was the recipient of the Anush Harutyunova Memorial Fund 2019 Bayer Ballet Summer Intensive scholarships, awarded for the outstanding accomplishments, continuous community involvement, teamwork, respect and integrity. Marie received the Dedication and Perseverance special award for the diligence, commitment and strength of character.

How do you feel about the teachers at Bayer Ballet Academy?

Starting ballet at age 5 in Ms. Inna’s class, even at such a young age, there was an immediate sense of how much she cared, and that persisted up until my very last rehearsal with her. Ballet’s expectations were never easy to achieve, but she always worked with us until we achieved that high quality, which is undoubtedly difficult for both teacher and student, but only shows the extent of her dedication towards us.

Ballet requires more than your entire effort. Every teacher at Bayer Ballet expected nothing less than that, but brought something of their own, while leading us forward in our technique and artistry. On a more personal level, I developed a trust towards the teachers to guide and correct me in the right direction and an immense sense of gratitude.

What would you suggest and wish to students who hope to pursue ballet seriously, but perhaps not become a professional?

I think if you want to pursue ballet seriously, but perhaps not become a professional, it is most important to reflect and remember why you are doing it, and to dedicate yourself completely whenever you do ballet.

While for the longest time, I viewed my academic and extracurricular goals as two conflicting paths in my life, recognizing that these paths do not contradict each other, but rather shape me and enrich my experiences, helped me understand what ballet means to me. I think understanding your own purpose and always remembering that whenever you are experiencing any challenges is essential to get through and to move forward. And from there, to move forward and work for yourself, you need to give it all you physically can and more.

And most importantly, remember to enjoy it :).

Photography: Elena Zabelina, IOPhotoStudio (Winter Fairytale, Snow Queen, Summer Intensives, Winter & Spring Performances, 2008-2021).

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