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American Boy Invited to Prestigious Ballet Academy

Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, one of the best ballet schools in the world, recently invited a 14-year-old American boy to their academy.

The boy, Matthew Leonardi of San Bernardino, CA, would like to get to the school as soon as possible, but is finding the money to pay for the high annual tuition hindering him according to the Los Angeles Times and The Sun.

The Los Angeles Times reports the annual tuition at $18,400. This is a huge financial burden on Leonardi’s mom, a single mother of four and kindergarten teacher. But she is working hard to try and find financial support for son because she realizes what a huge opportunity this is. To put it in perspective, Leonardi is the only American male dancer invited to the Academy this year, and the youngest male invited. The Academy spotted Leonardi when he attended Bolshoi Academy’s Summer Intensive Program in Connecticut this past summer.

“The academy needs a combination of physical features, talent and training, and Matthew has all three,? said Rina Kirshner, the vice president of the Russian American Foundation, which organizes auditions for the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

While Leonardi will focus on ballet training while at the Academy, the program does include academics as well. Leodardi is expected to be there for about four years, and upon graduation he would receive something similar to a Bachelor of Fine Arts his mother said.

The Sun reports that only three Americans were invited to Bolshoi this year, a school with yearly tuition averaging over $18,000. They report that Leonardi would be at the school for up to eight years. A few of the organizations that his mother has contacted looking for funding include San Manuel Indian Bingo and Casino, Stater Bros. Markets and Arrowhead Credit Union. She says she is having a difficult time finding funding because no one wants to fund individuals. She also says that Leonardi’s age is hindering getting scholarships and student loans. Furthermore she reports unspecified problems in obtaining Leonardi’s passport.