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The Vaganova Method

Agrippina Vaganova

Agrippina Vaganova developed the Vaganova Method between the years 1916 and 1948, a curriculum for teaching classical ballet. Vaganova combined the best aspects of various styles into one coherent technique, which involves the entire body in order to achieve the greatest range of movement and expression. Vaganova prioritized teacher instruction - particularly what was taught, for how long, and how much. She, too, would spend hours planning her own lessons everyday and made sure to explain the purpose and reason behind each exercise to her students. Vaganova's method of ballet instruction soon became the basis for all Russian ballet training. After her death in 1951, the Imperial Ballet School continued to preserve her teaching methods and was renamed the Vaganova Ballet Academy to recognize the school's greatest and most influential teacher.

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The Curriculum

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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Vaganova Today

New developments in artistic practice are at the core of the Vaganova Method. Although the curriculum was created years ago, its ability to adapt to current dance trends allows it to withstand the test of time. The method establishes a foundation that is strong yet flexible, catering to and enhancing each student's unique qualities.

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George Balanchine

Mikhail Baryshnikov

Maria Kochetkova

George Balanchine