Physically it has not been too demanding. Since I had to spend over a month without any ballet classes, while waiting for my paperwork to be finished (plenty of red-tape over here in Russia too) my Director has been kind enough to not throw me straight into rehearsals. So, I have just been going in for company class and then heading home, pretty easy work schedule right?
Company class here is really about warming up for the day and the dancers are given the flexibility to take the amount they feel benefits them. We begin with a warm-up combination facing the barre, the usual rolling through the feet, some tendus, calf stretch, etc. Then plies one side only with both fourths and fifths, followed by one tendu, one degage, one rond de jambe, one fondu, one frappe, one adagio, and one grand battement, and barre is finished. Center is not quite as fast, but still the class is done in 45-50 minutes.
How quick and condensed the class is, is not the only difference. The way they put together combinations is a bit different than what I am used to, so my brain is constantly translating the language and trying to deconstruct the combinations, so that they make sense to my body. I have noticed that I suddenly have a hard time remembering combination that are not that complicated because it is not the order I want the steps to be in. Because of this, I think it is probably very good for my development as a dancer. Just taking class is forcing me out of my comfort zone and making me examine the way I think about the movement.
Of course coming from America and not being Russian trained, there are some stylistic differences. One of my ballet masters has been quick to start addressing them, so we add to the mix changing the hand to be more held, the arabesque arm to be lower, the hands more lifted in fifth en haut, and the feet closer in second position. So, far it has mostly been my arms and hands that have been different than what my ballet masters want. It is a challenge to try and alter my muscle memory, but I am excited to learn to move my arms like the Russian dancers do, with such grace and elegance.