A famous dancer and choreographer as well as the legend of the Paris Opera Ballet Marie Claude Pietragalla visited the Vaganova Ballet Academy along with an actor Julien Derouault. Accompanied by the VBA principal Nikolai Tsiskaridze, they took a tour of the historic VBA building, attended the rehearsals at the Petipa Hall and visited the VBA museum.
Marie Claude has been dreaming of visiting VBA for a long time as soon as she used to be a colleague of one of its graduates – Rudolf Nureyev, she had been working with at the Paris Opera for 6 years.
Pietragalla and Derouault have come to St. Petersburg to participate in the XVII Raduga International Theatre Festival, where they presented their dance-drama To be or to appear, based on Louis Aragon poetry, Shakespeare tragedy Richard II and the piano music by Yannaël Quenel.
This year, the first two concerts – on May 12 and 16 – turned out to be stage rehearsals of the coming graduate performances. The VBA principal Nikolai Tsiskaridze decided to give up the usual divertissement consisting of various pieces performed by the VBA senior students. Instead, they were granted an opportunity to run-through the graduate performance on stage in front of a live audience. In turn, those who were lucky to get to the Hermitage Theatre on those days could observe a part of the working process and see how the ballets are being created (in the absence of some costumes, stage scenery and full lighting).
Among the ballets presented, there were Bronislava Nijinska's Bolero to the music by Maurice Ravel (revival by A. Liepa), dances from The Polish Act of Mikhail Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tsar (choreography by A. Lopukhov and S. Koren, revival by I. Gensler) and a choreographic excerpt The Magic Gardens of Naina from Mikhail Glinka’s opera Ruslan and Lyudmila (choreography by M. Fokine, updated version by N. Tsiskaridze).
The Polish Act of Mikhail Glinka’s opera A Life for the Tsar
The Magic Gardens of Naina from Mikhail Glinka’s opera Ruslan and Lyudmila
On May 18, a graduation concert in two acts showcasing the VBA foreign trainees took place on the same stage. The students from Japan, Belgium, Spain, Switzerland, Finland, Hungary, Italy, Sweden, Australia, Brazil and USA performed popular pieces from classical ballets prepared under the guidance of VBA teachers.
Fijimuro Mao and Maxime Ghemri
Sakai Mao, Davide Loricchio and Murakami Yuki
Laura Fernandez and Raul Ferreira
Zsofia Laczko and Oscar Frame
Haneda Manami and Tanaka Su
Salome Figueiredo de Santana
Фото Виктора Васильева.
Maria Ilyushkina, first-year student of the VBA Bachelor's Program, has won the first prize at the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition in New-York, USA. She received also company contracts with the Ballet de l’Opera de Bordeaux in France.
The VBA principal Nikolai Tsiskaridze who became a jury member of VKIBC has invited Nikita Boris and Justin Valentine, both students at the Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory of New York, to attend the Vaganova Academy for one year.
The International Ballet Competition was founded by Valentina Kozlova, former Bolshoi Theatre and NYCB ballerina, in 2011. The competition is being held for the ballet school students and the young ballet dancers of four age categories – from 11 to 26. In 2016, VKIBC was devoted to Violette Verdy who used to be a judge at the first ballet competition and later on its honorary chair. The final round of the competition took place on April 25-30 at the Peter Jay Sharp Theatre, Symphony Space, New-York.
Maria with Valentina Kozlova and Nikolai Tsiskaridze.
Being a professional ballet dancer is an exhausting job. To live a fairy-tale on stage, ballet dancers have to suffer for their art behind the scenes: they follow a gruelling training schedule and stick to a strict diet. From an early age, they live in the ballet academy so that they can dedicate the most time possible to their training. As a consequence they are separated from their families. They leave their friends and their schools behind, and enter a new, very competitive environment, where it’s difficult to form friendships as their classmates are also their rivals.
However, young hopefuls who make these sacrifices may find they are not enough to achieve their dreams. On top of all their hard work, professional ballerinas must have the right physique and be good looking. Besides, the challenging training regime may lead to injuries that can potentially put an end to their careers.
Still, none of this deters young girls who are in love with dance and are determined to make it their career. They travel from across Russia to St. Petersburg, where they audition to enter the world-renowned Vaganova Ballet Academy. They are ready to trade a carefree childhood for a chance to become ballerinas and shine on stage. However, very few of them will be accepted to study in the famous academy since it has very high standards. As many of its past graduates have become international ballet stars, it has a rich heritage and a reputation that must be maintained.
Vaganova Ballet Academy was founded in 1738 by Imperial Decree of Empress Anna in the then-capital of Russia, St. Petersburg. Initially it was named the Imperial Ballet School, but as times and the country’s political systems changed, so did its titles. In 1957, the school was renamed in honour of its teacher, Agrippina Vaganova, who became famous for developing the method of classical ballet training that is still taught there.
Head of Vaganova Ballet Academy is Nikolay Tsiskaridze, former Principle Dancer of The Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. He holds the title of People's Artist of Russia and has received numerous other honours and accolades. Over his career, Nikolai Tsiskaridze has performed over 70 roles in major classical and contemporary ballets. Prior to joining the Vaganova Ballet School, he taught at the Bolshoi Theatre as well as at the Moscow Ballet Academy. He has been a member of the President's Council for Culture and Arts since 2011.
Today, the Academy has 340 students, and competition for a place here is extremely tough. Each year, thousands of children audition, but only around 70 are accepted. In total, only about half of each year's intake will complete the eight year curriculum and graduate. Those who persevere are rewarded with contracts with the leading ballet companies in Russia and abroad.
In August - December 2015 RT Doc met some of the young hopefuls storming the doors of the famous Academy to find out more about the dream they share, and to follow them on their first steps towards achieving it.
The 44-th annual Prix de Lausanne international ballet competition held in Switzerland has come to an end. One of the seven Prix de Lausanne 2016 prize winners is Laura Frnandez, the international trainee of the Vaganova Ballet Academy. She was also admitted the best Swiss candidate and received a Contemporary Dance Prize.
Last year Laura already made an attempt to make the way in to the finals of Prix de Lausanne, however was not selected by the jury. The VBA principal Nikolai Tsiskaridze who was present at the competition invited Laura to become an international trainee with the Vaganova Ballet Academy. The young dancer has been coached by Irina Sitnikova, who heads the Chair of Classical and Classical Duet Dance.
Laura Fernandez, solo from the ballet 'Rossini Cards'.
Another Prix de Lausanne participant representing VBA was Alena Kovaleva, the first year student following the Bachelor’s Programme at the Department of Performing Arts (coached by Yulia Kasenkova).
A;ena Kovaleva, Gamzatti variation from'La Bayadere' (selections).
This time 292 candidates representing 36 countries submitted their applications to participate in Prix de Lausanne 2016. Sixty seven of them were selected to participate in the competition on the basis of video records, and only twenty got a chance to compete in the finals.
The jury was made up of 9 internationally renowned dance professionals – ballet stars and Prix de Lausanne prize winners of the previous years, heads of ballet companies and ballet schools, including Nikolai Tsiskaridze.
The prize winners get a chance to continue their studies or apprenticeship at one of the world’s finest ballet schools and academies, partners of the Prix. The competitors are being observed by the jury members over the course of the whole week. The jury makes its decision evaluating not only the level of performance of classical and contemporary variations, but also the way the candidates work at the lessons of classical and contemporary dance, including improvisation. At the same time the participants have a unique opportunity to work with the teachers and coaches from different countries and companies, get acquainted with unusual choreography and show their potential to the heads of the ballet schools and companies.
Five performances of The Nutcracker, featuring choreography by Vasily Vainonen will be presented by the VBA students at the Mariinsky Theatre in December.
On December 20, the leading parts of Masha and the Nutcracker Prince will be performed by the VBA senior students Eleonora Sevenard and Pavel Ostapenko, on December 21 – by Anna Smirnova and Oleg Ignatyev, on December 26 – by Alexandra Korshunova and Roman Malyshev, on December 27 – by Vera Segova and Pavel Ostapenko and on December 28 – by Maria Ilyushkina and Oleg Ignatyev.
The part of the little Masha will be performed by the VBA junior students Angelina Karamysheva (December 20), Anna Sharova (December 21), Darya Neupokoeva (December 26), Sofia Valiulina (December 27) and Yana Cherepanova (December 28).
In January, the Vaganova Ballet Academy will be touring Japan presenting 11 performances of The Nutcracker. Last time the VBA students visited Japan 12 years ago, in 2004, having also presented the same ballet. In 2016, over 100 young dancers will go to Japan to become the first foreign company performing at the new Kyoto Theatre.
During the VBA tour, on January 30, 2016, a 45-minute documentary featuring the daily routine of the VBA, its rehearsals and performances will be shown on the Japanese TV. The material for the documentary has been filmed by the Japanese WOWOW TV-company. The Japanese team had been working on the film for about 110 days.
On December 14-16, the Fourth International Cultural Forum was held in St. Petersburg. The Vaganova Ballet Academy took part in the work of the «Ballet and Dance» Section.
On December 14, a roundtable discussion «Classical heritage – a museum or a theatre?» was held at the Mariinsky Theatre. Those present tried to figure out the challenges of preserving, restoring and adapting the masterpieces of the classical dance, outline the basic approaches to re-analyses of the ballet heritage and share their experience in this field. Among the participants of the roundtable discussion were Boris Eifman, choreographer (moderator); Alkis Raftis, president of the International Dance Council (UNESCO); Nikolay Tsiskaridze, principal of the Vaganova Ballet Academy; Ana Laguna, dancer and coach; Feng Ying, artistic director of the National Ballet of China; Yury Fateyev, acting director of the Ballet Company of the Mariinsky Theatre; Tamás Solymosi, artistic director of the Hungarian National Ballet, Kang Sue-jin, artistic director of the Korean National Ballet; Petr Zuska, artistic director of the Czech National Ballet and Xin Peng Wang, artistic director of the Dortmund Ballet.
The principal of the Vaganova Ballet Academy Nikolay Tsiskaridze explained how the work on the «reconstruction» of the old ballets goes on and how difficult it is to preserve the authenticity of the performances created by even those choreographers who are still alive. He also complained that many modern ballet-master do not know historical details of those ballet masterpieces they turn to.
On December 15, the first meeting of the Organizing Committee in charge of arranging the festivities on occasion of Marius Petipa’s 200th Birthday in 2018 and a roundtable discussion «Petipa's Home» were held at the Vaganova Ballet Academy.
On May 21, 2015, Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation, signed a decree mandating to organize in 2018 the celebration of 200th Birthday of Marius Petipa, who created the immortal ballet heritage. However, the idea of celebrating the jubilee of the great choreographer emerged at the Vaganova Ballet Academy, that is why the first meeting of the Organizing Committee founded in accordance with the Decree of the Russian Government, was held there – at the Marius Petipa Hall where the ballet-master created the major part of his ballets.
Before the meeting started, the VBA students had presented a few pieces to the members of the Organizing Committee and the participants of the roundtable discussion «Petipa's Home» who have consequently discussed the possibilities of perpetuating the memory of Marius Petipa in St. Petersburg and submitted a few concrete proposals. Among the speakers were Professor Gabriela Komleva, ballet-mistress and coach of the Mariinsky Theatre; Yuri Fateyev, acting director of the Ballet Company of the Mariinsky Theatre; Professor Valeria Uralskaya, editor-in-chief, “Ballet” magazine; Professor Marina Vasilieva, dean of the Faculty of Performing Arts of the Vaganova Ballet Academy; Boris Illarionov, PhD in Art Criticism and head of the Chair of Ballet Studies; Dmitry Rodionov, director general of the A.A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum; and Nikolay Tsiskaridze, principal of the Vaganova Ballet Academy.
The participants of the roundtable discussion have unanimously passed a resolution containing proposals on perpetuating the memory of Marius Petipa.
The roundtable discussion ended with the signature of the Agreement on Cooperation, Student and Academic Exchange between the Vaganova Ballet Academy and the University of Paris VIII (the University of Vincennes in Saint-Denis, France)
Meeting of the Organizing Committee in charge of arranging the festivities on occasion of Marius Petipa’s 200th Birthday.
Participants on the concerts at the School Theatre.
Adagio from 'The Nutcracker' (E.Sevenard, P.Ostapenko, R.Malyshev, N.Vorobiov, М.Ushanov, P.Mikheev).
Fragment from 'The Awakening of Flora' (А.Popova, Zh.Lazko, А.Ledyakh, А.Yaromenko).
О.Golodets and N.Tsiskaridze are giving an interview after the meeteing of the Organizing Committee.
Roundtable discussion «Petipa's Home» at the Vaganova Ballet Academy.
Roundtable discussion «Petipa's Home» at the Vaganova Ballet Academy.
N.Tsiskaridze and Y.Fateev.
N.Tsiskaridze signs the Agreement between the Vaganova Ballet Academy and the University of Paris VIII.
Photographies by Ekaterina Kravtsova and Marina Radina.