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What does the title of "ballerina" mean at Kirov?

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I recently viewed the tape "The Leningrad Legend". This is a tape hosted by Natalia Makarova, depicting a return visit to St Petersburg years after her defection.

There is a section where she mentions that a certain female dancer had "beautiful feet, beautiful face... etc", and Makarova had always wondered why that dancer had never been given the title of "ballerina". What does it mean in Kirov hierarchy? A soloist, or a principal dancer or what? anyone knows?

Also I read at the preface of "Basic Principles of Classical Ballet" (Vaganova's book) that Vaganova got the title of "ballerina" at a certain time in her career.

thanks for clarification!!!!!


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If you look at the Mariinsky's website: www.mariinsky.ru , you can see that the company has 6 Ballerinas at present, in the English version they are called "Principals": Zhanna Ayupova, Ulyana Lopatkina, Yulia Makhalina, Irma Nioradze, Diana Vishneva, and Svetlana Zakharova. Of course they dance leading roles. However, although Maya Dumchenko and Natalya Sologub have been dancing Aurora for several years by now, they are still ranked as First Soloists. Darya Pavlenko who dances most of the leading roles is also a First Soloist.

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“Ballerina” as used by Makarova (as far as I remember she is talking about Ludmilla Kovaleva, who is among others the teacher of one Diana Vishneva) was applied to those female leads who had that something more in artistry and worth than the reliable soloists, whom moreover only occasionally forayed into “ballerina” territory (Odette-Odile, Giselle, Aurora, Raymonda etc). Actually, the title “ballerina” was in use already in pre-Soviet times, when the Mariinsky applied an elaborate hierarchy (comparable to the one now on www.mariinsky.ru.), each related to a certain salary. They can indeed be compared to our “principals”, or in Paris the “étoiles”.

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