|The Vaganova Academy|
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What makes Russian ballet so special? In her memoirs Theatre Street, the great Russian ballerina Tamara Karsavina supplies at least part of the answer. The training that is given at the Vaganova Ballet Academy (formerly the Imperial Ballet School) in St, Petersburg and the Moscow State Academy of Choreography.
Theatre Street gave a remarkable picture of Russian training in the past. For a modern insight I can thoroughly recommend Tala Lee-Turton's beautifully written blog.
Those of us who lack Ms Lee-Turton's talent can still get an idea of the Russian tradition without travelling to Russia by taking Kristian Ratevossian's classes at Danceworks. These take place on Sundays between 16:00 and 17:30. According to Danceworks's website:
"Kristian graduated from the world famous Vaganova Academy of St.Petersburg. He attended the full program from 1980 – 1990 under the direction of Oleg Sokolov and Benjamin Zimin directed by Constantin Sergeyev. Upon his graduation, having received outstanding accolades, Kristian was invited to join The Bolshoi Griogorovich Company."I have another opportunity to take a lesson from a Vaganova graduate when I visit Hungary in two weeks time. Mel Wong, who now lives in Budapest, has offered to take me to her adult ballet class which takes place the same day as the première of the Hungarian National Ballet's new production of Sir Peter Wright's The Sleeping Beauty (see The Hungarian National Ballet's Sleeping Beauty 24 Feb 2016). I can't pretend that I am not a little apprehensive but I am looking forward to the class with a Vaganova trained instructor at least as much as I am looking forward to the show.