Dancer with Tulsa Ballet II wears Russian Pointe®
Every day when Nikolas Gaifullin, 17, steps into the studio for another grueling rehearsal, he has one goal in mind: “I would like to be a principal with the Tulsa Ballet and I would like to perform on the stage that my dad did at the Bolshoi Ballet,” he says.
To reach that goal, he rehearses six days a week, four hours a day -- constantly working to perfect his craft by pushing himself to jump higher, spin faster and perform each move with grace and precision.
“I’m very dedicated,” Nikolas says.
When he was younger, Nikolas suffered from bullying because of his love of ballet. “Sometimes people made fun of me at school, some people were mean,” he says.
But that didn’t make him stop dancing. Instead, Nikolas pushed through, and today, he is homeschooled so he can take classes in the morning and manage his homework around his rigorous training schedule.
Luckily, both of Nikolas’ parents are very supportive of their son’s passion. His mother, Stephanie Murrish, is an American who was a soloist with the Cincinnati Ballet, while his father, Daniil Gaifullin, is a native of Russia who studied at the Bolshoi before moving to the United States. Together, the pair danced at the Ballet de Santiago in Chile and at the Sarasota Ballet of Florida before opening a dance school in Texas and then moving to Oklahoma to become teachers at the Tulsa Ballet.
Nikolas says his parents have been his role models throughout his life. “I admire their quality, artistry, technique and acting,” he says.
As a toddler, Nikolas began receiving ballet training in his parents’ garage, and by age 9, he placed third in the Youth America Grand Prix regionals in Orlando. Since then, Nikolas has competed in the YAGP six times, won the silver medal in the 2012 World Ballet Competition and performed at the Spoletto Festival in Italy. And recently, he was selected to be an apprentice with the Tulsa Ballet II.
Through it all, Nikolas’ drive has been fueled by the joy he feels when he’s performing. “When I go on the stage, I am in a different world,” he says simply. “I love ballet; it is my life.”
Nikolas wears Russian Pointe® shoes exclusively. He relies on the Russian Pointe® Andante Split Sole canvass shoe, which has a V-vamp that gives an elegant, elongated look to the foot.
“I like the Russian Pointe®s,” Nikolas explains. “They’re comfortable, the design is really nice, and they fit really, really well.”
Because the Russian Pointe® ballet slippers are handmade in the Russian tradition, they are made with the kind of quality that Nikolas’ father is accustomed to.
“These shoes remind us of Bolshoi shoes,” Murrish says.
Now that Nikolas has been accepted to apprentice with a professional company, he says he is looking forward to playing new roles on stage and expanding his repertoire. He said he hopes to play the parts of Spartacus and Ivan the Terrible, because he loves their dramatic flair.
No matter where Nikolas’ career takes him, Murrish says she and her husband are extremely proud of their son. “We’re so, so happy for him,” she says. “We really feel blessed.”