Alumni News

Zdravstvujtye, Moscow!

Jessica Day – September 20, 2011

Following in her sister’s (pointe) shoes, Ilse Kapteyn entertained her fellow students, faculty, and staff with sensational dance performances over the past three years, but that won’t be the case this fall…unless you are willing to make a trip to Russia. Foregoing her spot in Deerfield’s senior class, Ilse will spend 2011-2012 as a student of the world-famous Moscow State Academy of Dance, more commonly known as the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.


Ilse says she was “shocked” about the invitation, delivered on the second day of her two-week trip to the Bolshoi in August. According to an article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette by Kathleen Mellen, Ilse said, “It was sort of disbelief. I never thought it could be me. It was sort of a dream…” And even though the offer essentially turned her life upside down, she added, “I wouldn’t pass up the opportunity for anything.”


Now, from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m., six days a week, Ilse has classes in ballet and Russian. “It is very, very intense. They must dance six to eight hours every day with rehearsals,” said Ilse’s dance instructor, Irina Vakhromeeva; a former soloist with the Moscow Ballet, Ms. Vakhromeeva arranged the original trip to Russia for Ilse and eight other students from the East Street Ballet in Hadley (MA). “I dreamed for Ilse something like that,” added Ms. Vakhromeeva. “I can see her potential—she is (a) very talented girl. I can’t make her good enough dancer because we have (the) limit of time. I have only two hours for her, but she needs eight hours a day. She needs more, she needs nonstop work.”

Ilse began her training when she was eight-years-old at the Pioneer Valley Ballet, and has studied with Ms. Vakhromeeva for the past four years. Previously, she spent her summers studying at the Chautauqua Institute in NY, and the School of American Ballet and American Ballet Theatre in New York City. Ilse’s sister Ingrid graduated from Deerfield in 2009, and now studies ballet at the Juilliard; their mother, Kirsten, teaches at the Bement School, and their father, Jamie Kapteyn ’79, taught English at Deerfield until his death in 2007. “My idols are Russian dancers,” Ilse said. “That’s what I want to train in…I don’t know how I could not accept.”