The art of ballet dance involves a lot of hard work. It’s extremely physically challenging and requires full commitment from the dancer who needs to train for many hours a day, follow a strict diet and organise his or her whole life around ballet dance classes.

To reach the necessary level of flexibility and athleticism, the dancers have to start training at a very young age. By the time they are ten years old, they need to make a decision whether to pursue a career in ballet dance. If they chose to do so, they then enrol at a ballet academy where they train for their future profession and study school programme.

The academy is in fact a boarding school where everything revolves around ballet dance. The students live in a dormitory, eat specially-prepared food that should keep their weight in check and study regular school subjects that are arranged in the manner that would leave them maximum time for ballet dance practice.

Related: The hard path to becoming professional ballerina: a look Inside Russia's most famous ballet academy 

One of the most famous ballet academies in Russia is the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg that was established in 1738.  The most talented and hardworking of its students get parts in ballets performed on the stage of the world-renowned Mariinsky Theatre. For the young pupils of the academy it’s an amazing chance to demonstrate what they are capable of to the sophisticated public. If their ability to handle the pressure of performing in front of a live audience matches their talent, they are on the path of becoming stars. However, if they fail to shine on stage, they can still become choreographers and ballet teachers.

There are several systems of ballet dance training. One of the most famous of them is the Vaganova method that was developed by the famous Russian ballerina, Agrippina Vaganova, who studied and then taught in the academy. It merges several international schools of ballet dance and places an emphasis on the harmony of movement where every move involves the whole body.