Ask responses: Vaganova


Hi Melmoth! I love your blog. Would you be able to tell me who is the girl dancer in the second frame of your post “Part III. Vaganova Ballet Academy 2017 graduation performance rehearsal”? Thank you!


I’m not sure which photo you’re referring to exactly, but the students in these photos are Vlada Borodulina, Oscar Frame and Alexandra Korshunova. Hope that helps.

Hi, I apologise in advance for the large number of questions which are mainly about vaganova exams. You do such a good job at informing us. 1) does missing a step at barre, say a battement have an effect on the dancer’s grade? 2) how is it determined which group in the exam does which side at centre (they don’t always do both sides….)? 3)sometimes in grades ¾ they don’t wear skirts in the exam, how is that determined? 4)what happens if you’re injured lightly? Will you still take it? Thank u!

Some of these questions are so specific that only a Vaganova insider (which I’m not) would know the exact answer. I’ll do my best to make an educated guess.

  1. I think that even though mistakes, large or small, can affect the final grade, students are judged on the overall performance and there are a lot of elements at play.
  2. My understanding is that the arrangement is up to the teacher and depends on what they are trying to achieve with the examination material they’ve prepared.
  3. This could be entirely arbitrary, but it’s also possible that, depending on the nature of the combinations in question, the examination panel may want to see more of the students’ legs / hips.
  4. It depends on the injury. Some students take their exams with light injuries.

I’d love to know whether I’m actually getting any of this right  ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

What do students do with their time after exams? What happens if a final year student doesn’t pass their exams? Do classes ever switch teachers or are they decided for the whole time?

They prepare for the graduation performance and whatever other performances they may have. 

It really depends on the situation and the people involved. Some students may still be allowed to graduate though it’s unlikely that they would get a job. Others may fail out of school. I’ve heard of this happen to students in their final year and it’s obviously very traumatic.

Sometimes they switch and sometimes they don’t. Junior, middle-school and senior students are taught by different groups of teachers. Normally a class is taught by the same teacher for several years (especially at the end), but it’s not uncommon for the teacher to change. I think it depends on how many students pass from one grade to the next; classes may need to be re-shuffled based on the changing numbers. 

Hi Melmouth, In photos/videos of exams, I sometimes catch a glimpse of the examiners seated in a long line along the mirror. Who are they – Teachers from the school? Retired dancers? Teachers from other schools?

The graduation exams are attended by a lot of people. The examination committee sits at the front, the rest are guests: mostly industry professionals, teachers and VBA insiders. I think the committee itself varies from exam to exam, but generally consists of a mix of high-ranking Vaganova professors and industry professionals (Mariinsky coaches, retired dancers, etc)

Hi Melmoth! I wanted to ask you, based on the “exam2018” video you posted, I wonder if you attended this year’s state graduation exam in person? I noticed it is on the same youtube account where a while back you posted that hilarious video of Tsiskardize’s… hmmm… gag reel? If you actually did, how you were invited and what was attending in person like? Many thanks for your work, especially those translations (serious pains in the butt, I know. I be happy to do a Spanish/Chinese one for you!)

No, sadly I didn’t attend the exam, though I’d love to, as I’m sure many people would. The video I uploaded is a compilation of exam footage collected online. I felt it would be easier to have the whole thing collated into a single file. I have an unlisted YouTube channel for this very purpose: to be able to make my own edits and upload videos if I need to.

Hi! First of all, thank you for uploading the exams – (I still can’t believe Khoreva and Ivanova will be graduating this year, time goes so fast) I wanted to ask you if there’s any reason for the placement of the students during an exam? I thought about it when you talked about how Tsiskaridze arranges his students. In connection to that, is there a reason fewer male students perform in an exam at the same time? Do they just need more space to perform or is it a teachers/schools preference?

The order, arrangement and spacing of the students during an exam is entirely up to the teacher who prepares the examination material. It depends on the type of combinations, the teacher’s priorities are and what they want to achieve. Also, the boys’ classes are sometimes smaller than the girls’ classes – hence the discrepancy in numbers.

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