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Anjaliom | Classical dance in Paris 19

The Vaganova method

The Vaganova Syllabus , articulated over eight levels (or years) of training, is a noted and progressive program that has produced some of the finest dancers in the world, including Anna Pavlova , Natalia Makarova , Mikhail Baryshnikov , legendary choreographer George Balanchine and many stars, present in almost all the ballet corps in the world.


Developed by Agrippina Yakovlevna Vaganova more than a hundred years ago, this method fused the romantic style of French ballet and the passionate and dramatic Russian character with the virtuosity that characterizes the Italian school , to reform the old imperial style of teaching ballet.

Agrippina Vaganova (1879-1951) was a prominent Russian ballet dancer, choreographer and teacher. She created her own method of teaching classical dance, the method which was named after her, while her book, " Basic Principles of Classical Dance " (1934), is still considered the standard of classical dance pedagogy The book describes the ideas of Professor Vaganova on ballet technique and pedagogy. 

Born June 26, 1879, in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Agrippina Vaganova Yakovlevna was the daughter of an usher at the Mariinsky Theater and was exposed to dance at a very early age. She attended the Imperial Ballet School in St. Petersburg, graduating in 1897, and later joined the Mariinsky Ballet Corps in 1897.

Vaganova's talent was soon recognized by choreographer Marius Petipa . She became known to critics as the "Queen of Variations" so brilliant were her solos in Coppelia and Don Quixote. Vaganova was awarded the title of first ballerina in 1915, a year before her farewell performance.

Just before the 1917 revolution Vaganova left the stage and resumed teaching. For some time she taught at the Volinsky Private School, later moving to the Leningrad Choreographic School. From 1921 Agrippina Vaganova taught the last three perfection classes in the Leningrad Academy.

From 1931 to 1937 Vaganova held the position of artistic director of the Kirov Ballet. During this period, she staged her versions of Swan Lake and Esmeralda , while Vayonen organized the Flames of Paris and Zakharov produced La Fontaine de Bahchisaraja.

These ballets from the Vaganova period are still considered timeless classics. 

However, what was really important was the Vaganov method , which was developed both in the rehearsal rooms of the Theater Kirov (Mariinsky)  and between the walls of the Leningrad Choreographic School, now the Vaganova Ballet Academy. 

Through thirty years of teaching ballet and pedagogy, Vaganova has developed a precise technique and teaching system. 

From her teaching emerged a chain of brilliant ballerinas. The first, in 1925, was Marina Semeonova , a ballerina of great depth and eloquence. She was followed by other different personalities and talents, all of whom had the superb mastery of the Vaganova style. Olga Jordan was brilliant and fluid, Galina Ulanova   a passionate performer, whose talent goes far beyond technical performance. Another student of Vaganova - Tatiana Vetcheslova with her acting gifts reaches the heights of dramatic plays. Natalia Dudinskaya , the most beloved of Vaganova's pupils, became the star of the ballet scene of Leningrad. Besides excelling in traditional ballets, Dudinskaya   created many roles in the modern repertoire. 

Every spring,   a new ballerina of even more remarkable splendor,  student of Agrippina Vaganova,   left school. In 1950, Alla Osipenko   graduated from the School. The exquisite beauty of its lines had no equal. In 1951, the last of Vaganova's pupils appeared: Irina Kolpakova , a dancer of great finesse with unrivaled dramatic talent.

After Vaganova's death in 1951, her teaching method was preserved by dance instructors such as Vera Kostrovitskaya . In 1957 the school was renamed " The Vaganova Academy of Ballet " in recognition of the achievements of Professor Vaganova. 

There is a sculpted portrait of Professor Agrippina Vaganova at the entrance to the Russian Academy Ballet named after her.

Galina Ulanova

Irina Kolpakova

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