Nadya Timofeeva has been living in Israel for 22 years, but when she wanted to enter her ballet school students in an international competition, the only place that mattered was back in the old country, her hometown of St. Petersburg, Russia.

Nearly every one of the 16 Jerusalem Ballet School students who traveled to St. Petersburg with Timofeeva for the Young Russian Grand Prix-2013 won prizes, including first place for a dance group in Classical and Modern Ballet Ensembles. The prestigious ballet event pitted the Israeli dancers, ages 7 through 20, against world-class performers from Russia, Korea, Japan, Israel, Latvia, and Uzbekistan.

“It was very emotional for me,” said Timofeeva, who is the daughter of Nina Timofeeva, a former Bolshoi Ballet prima ballerina and native of St. Petersburg. “The level of the other competitors was very high and we worked hard for months preparing for this.”

Classical ballet isn’t well known in Israel, said Timofeeva, and dancers tend to start when they’re around 12, moving to toe shoes and other elements of the demanding art later than in other countries.

Nina Timofeeva dancing in 'Spartacus' with the Bolshoi Ballet (Courtesy Jerusalem Ballet School)

Nina Timofeeva dancing in ‘Spartacus’ with the Bolshoi Ballet. (photo credit: Courtesy Jerusalem Ballet School)

“I’m going to have to start training my students earlier, so I can build a troupe,” said Timofeeva. “It’s true that the market for classical ballet isn’t that big here, and it’s not easy, but as usual, it’s all about having enough money to build something bigger and more impressive here.”

“I need an oligarch who will fund the whole thing for us,” she joked.