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Vaganova Today

The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition

Catherine E. Pawlick

Publication Year: 2011

Agrippina Vaganova (1879-1951) is revered as the visionary who first codified the Russian system of classical ballet training. The Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, founded on impeccable technique and centuries of tradition, has a reputation for elite standards, and its graduates include Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, and Diana Vishneva. Yet the "Vaganova method" has come under criticism in recent years.

In this absorbing volume, Catherine Pawlick traces Vaganova's story from her early years as a ballet student in tsarist Russia to her career as a dancer with the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet to her work as a pedagogue and choreographer. Pawlick then goes beyond biography to address Vaganova's legacy today, offering the first-ever English translations of primary source materials and intriguing interviews with pedagogues and dancers from the Academy and the Mariinsky Ballet, including some who studied with Vaganova herself.

Published by: University Press of Florida


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Title Page

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List of Illustrations

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pp. ix-x

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Author’s Note

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pp. xi

For the sake of accuracy, I have retained the Russian spelling in the first use of all names. However, to ease the burden on the American reader, in subsequent uses I have used the shortened, Westernized versions of some names where such versions exist: Preobrajenska...

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pp. xiii-xvi

After studying ballet for ten years in the United States, I first journeyed to Leningrad in 1990 to take ballet classes from Kirov teachers on an exchange program. The Soviet Union had not yet officially collapsed, and the Russia I saw then was very much still Communist in every...

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pp. xvii-xviii

Although my love for Russian ballet began decades ago, without the superb language-teaching skills of Professors Andrews and Grenier at Georgetown University, this book would never have been possible. I am eternally grateful for my “Russian family,” which includes...

Chronological History of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet

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pp. xix-xxiv

Chronology of Agrippina Vaganova’s Life

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pp. xxv-xxvii

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pp. 1-4

For admirers of the famously refined Mariinsky Ballet—home to many of the world’s most famous dancers and the repository of what many consider to be the pinnacle of Russian achievement in dance—it may come not as just a surprise but a genuine shock to hear one of the...

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1. Vaganova the Dancer

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pp. 5-28

From the writings of those who saw her as a child, as a dancer on stage, and later as a teacher—individuals such as famed dance historian Ludmila Blok or dance critic Akim Volinsky—and from those who worked with Vaganova during her lifetime, we can begin to learn..

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2. Vaganova the Teacher

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pp. 29-74

Vaganova could have left Russia, as Preobrajenska and others did around the time of the Russian Revolution. Some left for political reasons; others saw no future for ballet in Russia or did not want to change the School program or the teaching system. But Vaganova remained behind...

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3. Vaganova Today: Her Students

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pp. 75-178

For those who knew her, Vaganova held an important place in their lives. Nearly sixty years after her death, Vaganova’s traditions are still continued by her pupils. The discussions with eight pedagogues that follow illuminate their opinions on the current state of training at the...

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pp. 179-182

A ballerina of the Imperial ballet. A pedagogue of classical dance in the Soviet ballet school. The founder of a new, modern method of dance skills. The author of the first book on the science of classical dance. The first professor of choreography. People’s Artist...


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pp. 183-189


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pp. 191-195


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pp. 197-200

About the Author

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pp. 201

E-ISBN-13: 9780813048260
Print-ISBN-13: 9780813036977
Print-ISBN-10: 0813036976

Page Count: 232
Illustrations: 36 b&w photos
Publication Year: 2011

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Akademii͡a russkogo baleta im. A.I͡A. Vaganovoĭ -- History.
  • Ballet companies -- Russia (Federation) -- Saint Petersburg -- History.
  • Ballet -- Russia (Federation) -- Saint Petersburg -- History.
  • Ballet -- Social aspects.
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