The art of ballet involves a lot of hard work. It’s extremely challenging physically 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 classes.

To reach the necessary level of flexibility and athleticism, dancers have to start training at a very young age. By the time they are ten, they need to decide whether to pursue a career in ballet. If they chose to do so, they then enroll at a ballet academy where they train for their future profession, as well as follow a traditional school programme.

The academy is, in fact, a boarding school where everything revolves around ballet. The students live in a dormitory, eat specially-prepared meals designed to keep their weight in check, and study in regular school classes scheduled to leave them maximum time for 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 established in St. Petersburg in 1738. Its most talented and hardworking students get parts in ballets performed on the stage of the world-renowned Mariinsky Theatre. For the academy's young pupils, 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 to becoming stars. However, if they fail to shine on stage, they can still become choreographers and ballet teachers.

There are several ballet training systems. One of the most famous is the Vaganova method developed by famous Russian ballerina Agrippina Vaganova, who studied and then taught at the academy. It merges several international ballet schools and emphasises harmony of movement, where every move involves the whole body.