Agrippina Vaganova (1879-1951) was the greatest Russian ballet teacher of her day. A graduate of the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet School, she studied under prestigious ballet masters such as Ivanov, Vazem, Gerdt, and Legat. She graduated in 1897 and danced with the Imperial Russian Ballet. She retired from dancing in 1916, and returned to the school in 1921. Based on the teaching methods of the Imperial Ballet School, she developed a complete syllabus to teach the art of classical ballet, that later became known to the world as the Vaganova Method. In 1934, Agrippina Vaganova became the head of the Leningrad Choreographic Technicum and published her textbook, Foundations of Classical Ballet, in 1948. To honor Vaganova and recognize her achievements, the school was renamed the Vaganova Ballet Academy in 1957.
Many of the most respected ballet dancers of all time were trained in the Vaganova method: Anna Pavlova, Natalia Makarova, Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Barishnikov, and George Balanchine. The Vaganova Method is known for its precision, grace, and fluidity. The method minimizes dancer injuries by stressing proper placement and alignment.
CBA student Katie Grace-Shamburek at the Vaganova Ballet Academy. Photo by Vladimir Frank.