By Mark Ambrogi
Morgan Rust kept pestering her mother to take her to the Russian Ballet Academy of Indiana in Indianapolis.
“When she was 6, I told her if she was still this obsessed with ballet when she was 8, I would take her,” Missy Rust said.
At first, Morgan’s twin sister, Julia, pursued gymnastics and a more recreational ballet program at another school but soon decided to join Morgan.
Missy could never have envisioned what would transpire over the past eight years.
The Russian Ballet Academy of Indiana closed in 2010. However, many of the instructors, led by Alyona Yakovleva-Randall, formed the Indiana Ballet Conservatory in Carmel. The 16-year-old Rust sisters, from Noblesville, have become two of Yakovleva-Randall’s top pupils.
The twins, who have been homeschooled for the past few years, will attend The Washington School of Ballet in Washington, D.C., in the fall.
“This wasn’t my vision for their future, but sometimes as parents we realize they have their own dreams, and we need to let them pursue them and be happy,” Missy said.
Missy and her husband, Rich, will move with their daughters to Washington so they can finish their schooling at the prestigious school.
The sisters credit their training from IBC.
“We were grateful to each receive eight full-tuition scholarships for year-round programs, some including room and board as well,” Morgan said. “We know we wouldn’t have any of these opportunities if it weren’t for the training and love we’ve received at IBC. After spending time with (Washington School head) Xiomara Reyes, we feel confident we have found a home similar to IBC where the teachers and directors of the school and the company hold everyone to a high standard as they challenge, encourage and support the dancers. There is a lot of excitement surrounding The Washington Ballet and the school right now, and we are really looking forward to making a positive impact there and representing Alyona, Tatiana (Pali) and Sergey (Sergiev) the best way we can. As much as we’d like to stay here forever, they are all encouraging us to take the next step, and we are really grateful they want the best for us.”
Yakovleva-Randall, IBC artistic director, calls the Rust sisters her “babies” because she has been instructing them since they were 8.
“Morgan and Julia’s success is not due solely to their talent, but to their work ethic, discipline and who they are as people,” she said. “In addition, the girls are fortunate to have great support from their parents as well, as success on this level takes great effort and sacrifice from the entire family, too. Because of their tremendous dedication as individuals and as a family, their love of ballet, and their willingness to completely trust 100 percent in their teachers and training, they are now receiving these opportunities to further their training. I couldn’t be more proud of them as their teacher and the work we have accomplished together after training them for eight years. I have full confidence that they will carry this work ethic far into their careers.”
The sisters each received several scholarship offers this summer, settling on four they could do together.
They attended Ballet West in Utah from June 12 to June 24, then went to Orlando Ballet from June 26 to July 29 on full scholarship. They began attending Irina & Maxim International Summer Intensive in New York City July 31.
The twins have trained with Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Beloserkovsky, former principal dancers at American Ballet Theatre.
“Irina and Max always push you to all your goals and above and beyond, push you past that breaking point, especially in he summer,” Morgan said.
When that program concludes Aug. 5, the sisters head to the Boys Ballet Summer Intensive for Partnering in North Carolina Aug. 7 to 12.
The sisters began learning all kinds of dance, but Morgan took to ballet first.
“I like ballet with the structure and how it keeps pushing you to do your best,” Morgan said. “You are never perfect at it.”
Julia said she was a little apprehensive at first when the Russian Academy instructors pushed harder than other programs she had been in.
“I kept adding on more classes and more classes because I loved it so much,” Julia said
MEET THE RUST SISTERS
The fraternal twins turned 16 April 28. Like many twins, they have several things in common. They both love to read, and their favorite TV show is “Friends.”
Favorite ballet: “The Nutcracker” or “The Sleeping Beauty”
Favorite class: English
Biggest thrill in ballet: “Everyday things, like taking class and pushing to be my best self. A more specific moment would probably be when I danced on the Lincoln Center stage in New York City at the YAGP (Youth American Grand Prix) finals (finishing in the top 12). It was such a thrill, and I still feel so blessed.”
Favorite ballet: “Don Quixote”
Favorite class: History
What is your biggest thrill in ballet: “Probably the biggest thrill I get in ballet is when I perform onstage. It is so exciting with all my nerves and the unknown of what will happen on stage. In those moments, I just have to trust in myself and in God for everything that I have practiced.”