Who was Agrippina Vaganova

[ah-gree-PEE-nah   vah-GAH-naw-vah]


As a dancer with the imperial Ballet, Vaganova was known as the “queen of variations”, renowned for her jumps and batterie, although her lack of beauty meant that she did not receive the title of “ballerina” until 1915, the year before she retired. She is most remembered as a great teacher of generations of dancers, taking the best of the old imperial style – romantic plasticity allied with the Italian bravura – and blending it with a more athletic movement to form what became known as the Vaganova system. This method did not isolate one particular part of the body (ie: Cechetti method) but trained it into one harmonious musculature to give precise corrections for proper placement. World famous dancers such as Natalia Makarova, Rudolph Nureyev, and Mikhail Baryshnikov trained using the Vaganova method.

Her most important ballets, which demonstrated the strength of her teaching style, were Swan Lake (1933) and Esmerelda (1935). She was director of the State Acedemic Theatre of Opera and Ballet (renamed the Kirov in 1935) from 1931-1937 and later of the school that bears her name.