When Noa Erlitzki flies to Russia early next month to enroll in the Perm State Choreographic College, the 19-year-old ballerina will become the first Israeli, and among a very few Americans, to study in one of the most venerable ballet academies in the world.
Haifa-born Erlitzki was a late bloomer in the ballet world, already 11 when she signed on for lessons with a Ukrainian-trained teacher, Natalia Shevchenko, at Chambers Performing Arts Academy in suburban Atlanta. Shevchenko inculcated Erlitzki with the Vaganova technique, a strict methodology that has produced some of the world’s most prized ballet dancers. At the beginning Erlitzki danced in a class with girls three or four years younger than herself, but within two years she caught up, dancing on pointe with students close to her own age.
Now, after eight years of ballet lessons, Erlitzki is intent on refining her training and gaining a spot with a European company. She says she’s ready to leave behind the comforts of family and friends in the U.S. for grueling 10- to 12-hour days of classes, rehearsals, more classes and coaching sessions in Perm, which is about 800 miles east of Moscow, near the Ural mountains.