The newly minted dramatists, musicians, and dancers who competed with thousands of applicants for a spot at the conservatory.
When did you find out you got in?
The end of March. I missed a call, and then they called my mom, I guess, because I got a text from her saying “Is your phone on? Is everything all right? Did you happen to get any phone calls?” Then I was just sitting around dying and waiting, and finally I got a call from a 212 number. And I thought, OMG, that’s a New York number.
How does it feel to be here? Have you ever heard of impostor syndrome?
Yes. Well, there seems to be a little bit of that going around in the freshman class. There are only 24 dance students, and thousands and thousands applied. We’ve all been sort of wondering if we got in by mistake. But then, actually, the president of the school said during his welcome speech, “Don’t worry, you didn’t get in by mistake.” So that was pretty reassuring.
What’s your instrument?
I started with flute. But then I moved from Yekaterinburg to Moscow, and they were overloaded with flutists. So they offered me trumpet. And as soon as I picked it up, I knew: The trumpet was the instrument I was looking for.
Did you expect to get in?
Well, I’d gotten rejected before. When they finally let me in, I said, “Are you sure? No take-backsies. They were like, “Yes, no take-backsies!”
What’s your audition story?
Before the first round, I got lost in a stairwell. Then I must have looked like I’d been sweating a lot, because they offered me water.
Have you had any classes yet?
Colloquium. It’s required for freshmen; you sit down, relax, and talk about life. Everyone was very mature, and it was a very deep conversation.
What was the audition like?
Five phases. After each, they make cuts. After ballet, no one called me, so I turned to leave. Then I heard it: “Makani! Makani!”
How are your nerves?
I’ve been homeschooled my whole life, so yes, I am nervous. But I am quite prepared for any sort of teacher because I had some very strict ones back in Chicago. Sometimes there’d be yelling. Yelling doesn’t faze me.
Who were you with when you got in?
My dad. It was a nice confirmation for him that I hadn’t been dicking around during all those hours spent alone in my room.
*This article appears in the September 16, 2019, issue of New York Magazine. Subscribe Now!