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Vaganova Academy in Russian Life MagazineNov/Dec 2008 issue


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#1 Natalia

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Posted 03 December 2008 - 02:13 PM

I just noticed that the current issue of Russian Life features a cover story by Paula Routly on life inside the hallowed halls of the Vaganova. The article cannot be read online but the link below provides information on ordering the issue in either digital or hard copy.

http://www.russianli...ssue=2103108151

#2 canbelto

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Posted 04 December 2008 - 03:54 PM

Anyone read the article?

#3 Natalia

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 05:16 AM

Canbelto, I ordered the downloadable version & read it yesterday. The author is from the Washington, DC, area, where she studied ballet as a child under the tutelage of Czech immigrants...thus, knowledgeable and appreciative of the Vaganova Method. She visited St. Petersburg for the first time this past May/June, attending a performance of SWAN LAKE at the Mariinsky and obtaining an invitation to view classes inside the Academy. Among the classes seen and discussed at length is the female graduation class of 2008 -- the group coached by former Kirov soloist Irina Sitnikova. Among her charges is the latest hyper-extended sensation, Anastasia Nikitina, who recently debuted as a muse in Apollo at the Mariinsky. We read bits of interviews with '08 graduates Svetlana Sivlatova of Belarus, Xenia Romanova of St Petersburg and Rieka Suzuki of Japan. The author also attended a class of adolescent boys given by Yelena Zabalkabskaya. Both teachers were interviewed, as was the Administrative Director of the Academy, Vera Dorofeyeva. Artistic Director of the Academy, Altynai Assylmuratova, was not interviewed, so I'm assuming that the author did not meet her; this is a bit odd, as articles on the VBA almost always include some reference to the highly-celebrated ballerina...who is not even mentioned here...oops!

Among the telling bits of info gleaned in the article:

* The Class of 2008 provided a virtual army of new dancers to the Mariinsky -- some sixteen (16) graduates were taken into the company!!! Of course, a reason for this is that there was no graduation in 2007 because of the curriculum changes. Still...an average of 8 new dancers per season is pretty high in any top company.

* The article is peppered with reference to "beyond 180-degree penchees" by the students. It seems to be encouraged/ingrained in them. Nonetheless, VBA director Dorofeyeva insists that they teach only the purest classical style, unlike the rest of the world..."We are a bit conservative.". :P One of the 08 grads, Sivlatova, is described as having "...remarkable extension..." capable of holding her leg steady" right next to her ear".....!!!!! Conservative?

* Every one of the 62 teachers of the VBA is a graduate of the VBA. In other words, ex-Kirov stars who may have graduated in Moscow, Perm, Tbilisi, etc., cannot work at the VBA, according to Dorofeyeva.

* About 500 Russian kids audition each year; 60 selected; 40 remain to graduate, on average. Education is 100% free for Russians; students from former 'Soviet Republics' -- called 'Near Abroad Students' -- only have to pay for food; the increasing number of 'Far Abroad Students' must pay $15,000/year in tuition. [The recent graduating class included two Far-Abroaders-- a boy and a girl from Japan. More often than not, foreigners (from near or far) attend the VBA for a year or two after the age of 18...for post-graduate refinement, a-la Zakharova, Kolb, and Nureyev.]

* There are slots for 30 'far-abroad students' per year (10-month school term). They are pre-selected. Cost - $15,000/year.

* What is now the Vaganova Academy has been around for 270 years, first housed in the top storey of the Winter Palace (now Hermitage Museum)

* The Academy has been housed at its current site, on Rossi Street/Theater Street, since 1836...all 26,000 square meters of it! Its "invitation-only museum" is at street level, while the "20-odd studios" are above.

* Some 98% of the corps swans in the Mariinsky's SWAN LAKE are VBA graduates, thus accounting for their incredible uniformity

* The Director of the VBA, Dorofeyeva, laments that Russian students are being courted by western companies; why should the state invest so much in training them, if they 'jump ship' right after their graduation?


I recommend buying the article. I also ordered the in-print magazine, so that I may have the lovely color photos (mostly of rehearsals for the graduation) in good-stock paper, for safekeeping in my collection-library.

#4 Helene

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 10:05 AM

Many thanks, Natalia!

#5 Hans

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Posted 05 December 2008 - 10:12 AM

* The article is peppered with reference to "beyond 180-degree penchees" by the students. It seems to be encouraged/ingrained in them. Nonetheless, VBA director Dorofeyeva insists that they teach only the purest classical style, unlike the rest of the world..."We are a bit conservative.". :) One of the 08 grads, Sivlatova, is described as having "...remarkable extension..." capable of holding her leg steady" right next to her ear".....!!!!! Conservative?


Sounds as if my eyes will not be getting any rest in the near future! This is unfortunate, but it's lovely to read the main points of the article; thank you for putting them here, Natalia. I think I will buy the article.

#6 Sacto1654

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Posted 06 December 2008 - 05:25 AM

Natalia,

Thanks for summarizing the great article! :)

I wonder have they done a similar feature article on the GITIS Institute, which is to the Bolshoi Ballet troupe what the Vaganova Academy is to the Mariinsky Ballet troupe. GITIS has produced a number of really good ballet dancers in recent years, though only a few of them stand out compared to the good number of well-known (at least to Western ballet fans) ballet dancers that have graduated out of Vaganova in recent years.

#7 Natalia

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 03:36 AM

Hi, Sacto. Isn't GITIS a post-graduate teacher- and/or choreographer-training institute? True, it is based in Moscow. I thought that the Bolshoi's equivalent to the VBA is the Moscow Choreopraphic Institute...the one that graduated Plisetskaya, Maximova/Vasiliev, Osipova, etc., and that recently sent students to the Kennedy Center's Proteges II program.

Russian Life usually does a feature article on ballet once a year. There's a way to search the titles of archival copies on their website but I've never done it. I recall a wonderful feature on Zakharova and her coach, Semenyaka, a couple of years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if GITIS or the MCI have been featured in the past.

#8 Amy Reusch

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 08:24 PM

About 500 Russian kids audition each year;


Why do only 500 audition? It seems Vaganova would draw more... or is it on a first-come, first-served basis, with only 500 being allowed to audition each year?

#9 Marga

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Posted 07 December 2008 - 09:10 PM

Hi, Sacto. Isn't GITIS a post-graduate teacher- and/or choreographer-training institute? True, it is based in Moscow. I thought that the Bolshoi's equivalent to the VBA is the Moscow Choreopraphic Institute...the one that graduated Plisetskaya, Maximova/Vasiliev, Osipova, etc., and that recently sent students to the Kennedy Center's Proteges II program.

You are right, of course, Natalia. GITIS is for graduates of all kinds of theatrical programs, including "theatre historian and critic", not only ballet. Often, older and/or retired dancers enroll in the programs after they have finished their stage careers. In ballet one can be awarded the following two "qualifications":

"director choreographer" (term of study 5 years, enrollment: regular, extension (correspondence) courses);
"teacher choreographer" (term of study 4 and a half years, enrollment: regular, extension (correspondence) courses).

Here is their website (English version):

GITIS

#10 Sacto1654

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Posted 08 December 2008 - 05:38 AM

Hi, Sacto. Isn't GITIS a post-graduate teacher- and/or choreographer-training institute? True, it is based in Moscow. I thought that the Bolshoi's equivalent to the VBA is the Moscow Choreopraphic Institute...the one that graduated Plisetskaya, Maximova/Vasiliev, Osipova, etc., and that recently sent students to the Kennedy Center's Proteges II program.


Excuse me while I whack the folks who post articles on Wikipedia.... :P

I've always wondered what was the equivalent of the Vaganova Academy in the Moscow area that trains ballet dancers to enter the various dance troupes in the Moscow area--thanks for correcting me.


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