About Us

Galina Alexandrova (left) and Marina Alexandrova (center) at Bolshoi Ballet Academy

CITY BALLET - SAN FRANCISCO's excellent teachers were hand selected to ensure that each student receives the most advanced ballet education possible. In addition to Artistic Director Galina Alexandrova, the school is proud to have Nikolai Kabaniaev, Men's/Boys' Director, and Master Teachers with professional experience in top companies around the world. 

Having superior training on a consistent basis is the key element in giving dancers the best chance to attain their goals. Because we adhere to a single syllabus (Vaganova) and are a privately run school that is able to control the size of our program by being selective with our admission, we can offer more individualized attention to dancers and a more clear path of study to than larger institutions. 

Our extensive Year-Round Program includes no less than three performance opportunities, a dynamic, cross-discipline Summer Intensive program, and, for the aspiring professional dancer, a Professional Division.

City Ballet - San Francisco has produced scores of dancers whom now dance in major companies around the world with more coming each year (see Alumni page). This is a testimony to both our staff and the process we use to train our dancers. 

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Galina Alexandrova at Bolshoi Ballet Academy

Our History

Galina Alexandrova was born in Moscow, Russia to parents who were principal dancers with various companies. Galina's father, Mikhail, was a soloist with the Moiseyev Dance Company, and her mother, Svetlana, was a principal with the Stanislavsky Ballet in Moscow for over 20 years.

At the age of ten, Galina was accepted to the legendary Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow. After graduating, Galina was personally selected by Artistic Director Yuri Grigorovich to become a member of the Bolshoi Ballet. Galina danced there for seven years, performing many soloist roles in all of the Bolshoi's repertoire.

In 1986, Galina met Ken Patsel - a stagehand at the San Francisco Opera, while on tour with the Bolshoi in San Francisco. They soon after married, and Galina immigrated to the U.S. where she joined the San Francisco Ballet. While with the company, she performed many soloist roles in works by George Balanchine, Lew Christensen, Helgi Tomasson and many more. She also worked directly with world-class choreographers such as James Kudelka, David Bintley, and Glen Tetley. Galina continued to dance even after the birth of her two elder children, Sasha and Katia. After the birth of her third child, Nastia, Galina retired from professional dancing.

In 2003, the opportunity to become Artistic Director of City Ballet - SF presented itself. Already equipped with vast knowledge from her own training and career in both Russia and America, Galina was further mentored by her mother Svetlana Afanasieva, a master teacher at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy in the art of teaching the Vaganova syllabus. Over her tenure as Artistic Director, Galina has built an international reputation for the school as being one of the finest Vaganova training facilities in North America. Since becoming Artistic Director, many of Galina's students have gone on to dance professionally on companies such as ABT, Dutch National Ballet, Joffrey Ballet, Semper - Oper Ballet Dresden, Germany, Austin Ballet, Alberta Ballet, Colorado Ballet as well as many more around the world.

We are very proud to work in partnership with Galina’s own ballet school, The Bolshoi Ballet Academy in Moscow, Russia where Galina’s top students have travelled numerous times to study at the illustrious school. In fact, Galina’s students were the first ever American women to graduate from the Bolshoi Ballet Academy.

The Vaganova Method

A timeless, proven curriculum

The Vaganova method is a method of teaching classical ballet that was developed by Agrippina Vaganova. While a unique Russian-style was developing at this time, she realized that no method existed for teaching and communicating these ideas. Vaganova concentrated attention on precision in a teacher's instruction, particularly when to teach what, how long to teach, and in what amount. This scientifically proven method involves the systematic study of all ballet movements by breaking them down into their separate elements and is characterized by impeccable precision, attention to detail, ease of execution, emotion-evoking grace, and individual creativity. 

It is considered to be very clean, with precise movements that express clean lines yet softness underneath. Even though a Vaganova-trained dancer would be very strong and clean, she/he would still be soft and perform well on stage without robotic stiffness.

Early training focuses on epaulement, or the stylized turning of the shoulders and body, which is partnered with the development of total stability and strength in the back to produce harmonious coordination of the body and continuity of movement. This core of strength enables consistently precise, easy movement of the body; the training in epaulement, in turn, instills in the dancer an intuitive anticipation of how best to use every part of his or her body to evoke breathtaking results, right down to the hands and eyes.


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(415) 626-8878

2135 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA

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