An audience with Cristi Bratu – a dancer destined to dazzle
By Alexandru Bratu
The spotlight is on young dancer Cristian Bratu as he looks ahead to taking on his most difficult role yet – a student aiming for life on centre stage.
“Sometimes I have a think about what life would be like if I didn’t choose ballet, but I am happy with my choices and where I am now.” Those were the words of an emerging dancer with the potential to reach amazing heights in the art of ballet, Cristi Bratu, who has recently ended his first term at the prestigious London Royal Ballet Upper School.
From humble upbringings, Cristi is a 16-year-old ballet student from Gartree in the Harborough district, a diamond in the rough unearthed by former Royal Ballet principal Graham Fletcher aged just eight, before joining the London Royal Ballet School aged 11 to polish off his skills and begin to develop into a more clear-cut performer.
In somewhat of a ‘rags to riches’ tale that is progressing soundly towards its happy ending, I ask Cristi to look to his future, and think about what he needs to do in order to complete a defining chapter in the story of his future career in ballet as he progresses through the first year at his new school.
“I need to increase my strength and confidence as a dancer; I can do this by working hard and motivating myself,” he begins, recalling the arduous journey to the stage he finds himself in at this present moment, “The standard is rising year by year. I have four appraisals every year that test all aspects of my dancing to see if I’m progressing or not, that will be tough.”
It becomes clear to me in the way he articulates his responses that this is a boy who knows exactly what he needs to do to realize his dreams, and there was no question as to whether he is motivated to face up to the unforgiving examinations. “I want to achieve things and be the best that I can be,” he continues, “auditioning for White Lodge, my teacher told me that you can’t win the lottery without entering and I’ve stood by that ever since. I use it to test my capabilities and see how far I can go. The end goal on stage keeps me and my enjoyment of it going.”
Cristi hopes to one day emulate the achievements of renowned dancers such as Carlos Acosta and Graham Fletcher, and it is the latter, the very man who discovered his potential, who believes he can go all the way. Speaking in an article for the Harborough Mail, Fletcher offers a recollection of the moment Cristi revealed his potential: “I thought straight away: ‘Gosh this boy’s talented!’”
Fletcher discovered Cristi during his annual visit to Foxton Primary School, asking him amongst other potential young dancers to attend his after-school classes where the students would learn contemporary dance. From this, Cristi made the transition to ballet, a move that would determine his entire future, changing his life completely.
Fletcher is the main contributor to Cristi’s early development, and the young dancer feels he owes a lot to Fletcher’s guidance. “It’s exciting to think that I could one day become just as good as he was. It was my friend Graham who got me into this world and he is usually the first person I think of when something good happens, because I always want to make him proud.”
It’s a sentimental thought. The two often keep in contact, and Cristi has aided Fletcher in teaching summer school classes for other future dancers. And it is the future that Cristi continually looks to as he ventures towards his own destiny.
When asked about where he sees himself in years to come, he responds: “Hopefully in a company becoming a professional, I don’t imagine doing anything else.” A regular performer at the Royal Opera House during the Christmas period, it appears that a life on stage is one that he desires so greatly.
To cultivate the ability to move audiences and stir emotions with the elegance and poise which defines the art of ballet is the greatest task presented to a young performer. Whether it were to be warming hearts or moving pairs of eyes to tears, it is clear that the path to stardom is one to be walked on with pointed toes, aiming to jeté past any obstacles that stand in the way.
Standing centre stage as his future plays out, the spotlight is on Cristi. An audience of examiners, experts, family, friends, teachers and mentors look on with watchful eyes, anticipating whether the final curtain draws a close to a performance which warrants a continuation in the profession. In Cristi’s own words: “the challenge just gets greater.”