Ask Responses: VBA & BBA


Hello! I am watching the documentary Dance of the Little Swans and in it they originally didn’t accept Olga Morgulets because of her physique and fear she wouldn’t grow because of rhythmic gymnastics, but then they did take her. Don’t you think that is a little bit irresponsible if they already doubt her? What if she doesn’t grow and does get expelled because of it? I’m sure the selectors know what they’re doing, but still…or maybe that’s just me?

I think, given the chance, any child who dreams of training at Vaganova Ballet Academy would grab on to the smallest opportunity. The children and, more importantly, the parents know the risks going in (though not everyone really processes them): out of the sixty or so children who are accepted in to the academy every year, only around 10%-15% graduate. Most fail out or drop out. So Olya is at as much risk as anyone else. She was given a chance, the rest is up to her. By the way, VBA wouldn’t expel a student just for being short; there would be other contributing factors.

In the case of kids like Olya, who are accepted into the academy conditionally (at least I think that’s what’s happened), there is usually a probation period during which the coaches decide whether or not they can keep up. Olya appears to be doing well, so I guess she is safe for now. 

Hi! Thank you for your fantastic blog. I find photos of young Ulanova fascinating so my question is : Are there many historical photos from Vaganova Academy? ( I mean the time when dancers like Semyonova, Dudinskaya, Ulanova were students or even earlier).

Thanks! I’m sure VBA have a huge archive of amazing historical photos and documents. And their museum is filled with incredible artefacts. I wish they would digitise their archives and make them available to the public (They can hire me as a volunteer! I will do it!)


A lot of the photos have made their way online and have been published in books. I would love to get my hands on the book about Marina Semyonova, which Tsiskaridze published last year (God bless him for keeping the memory of his teachers alive), as it contains a lot of rare photos and letter.

Do you think Vaganova will ever go on tour/do masterclasses in the United States? I would love to see a performance!

VBA have a link, albeit a tenuous one, with the US, via the Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory, so it’s within the realm of possibility. I think the distance poses a problem; Europe is a short flight away, so I think that’s why they concentrate their networking efforts there.

Maybe I’m wrong, but I have seen photos and videos from Bolshoi students and some of them look extremely unhealthy thin!! I know in Russia balletdancers have to be very thin and Vaganova students are also thin. But Bolshoi students seem to be bony…

I wouldn’t make assumptions about a person’s health from a couple of photos.

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