Ask Responses: Vaganova

tsiskaridze:

Do you have a favorite teacher at VBA? In terms of their teaching style and what they turn their students into? I don’t know if this question makes sense or not…

There are many teachers at VBA whom I like and admire. It’s kind of hard not to since there are some amazing men and women working there. Aside from Tsiskaridze (duh), I really like Alexei Ilyin and Fethon Miozzo because they seem to really care for their students. I also like Alexander Stepin: the incredible acting teacher and one (if I’m not mistaken) of the most well-liked teachers at the academy. The person I find most fascinating though is Professor Marina Vasilieva. She has been teaching classical dance at the academy since 1977 and her students include Yulia Makhalina, Evgenia Obraztsova, Viktoria Tereshkia, Elena Evseeva and Olesya Novikova. She also trains ballet teachers and is one of the leading experts in the field of ballet education.

This might be to specific of a question so I’ll say sorry in advance, but: Would hitting the expected growth spurt late(r than normal in boys) be a reason to fail the body standards for VBA? I mean, they are supposed to be a good height for the girls, but what happens if they don’t match up with any girl from their year? Do they just have to make it work somehow?

I don’t think this would be an issue for boys. Ballet companies like tall boys. That’s pretty much the only reason Rodkin was hired in the first place. I also think that there’s more of a demand for taller boys now that ballerinas are getting taller as well. Height is more of an issue for girls: being too short or too tall may mean missing out on a job with a company.

Sorry, I think I didn’t explain my previous question clearly. I meant to ask if there are any soloist or principal international graduates from VBA in companies in Russia or around the world?

Ah, yes, that makes more sense. A few of the semi-recent international VBA graduates are doing quite well, though I can’t think of any who have made it to principal quite yet. Ella Pesson (class of 2015) is a coryphee at the Mikhailovsky and gets to dance solo and principal parts regularly. Julian MacKay (graduated from BBA in 2015) is first soloist with the Mikhailovsky. I’m pretty sure there are several recent foreign trainee grads who are doing very well in regional theatres around Russia, but I can’t think of their names… Oscar Frame (VBA, class of 2017) is still in the corps at the Bolshoi, and I don’t want to jinx him, but I think we should be watching him closely. Keenan Kampa was doing amazing things until her injury…

Have you seen russianballetvideo2’s comments about the VBA student Svetlana Savelieva? I was absolutely shocked and horrified by the mean comments! Would you know who is this vicious person? Sveta is simply a student at this point and it is really horrid of this person to say such horrid things! And there are others who added their mean comments as well! Maybe this is why Tsiskaridze stopped allowing exam videos to be posted online.

russianballetvideo2 and the behaviour of the person running it has been addressed here before (also here). What can I say… Internet can be a toxic place and, for some reason, ballet seems to attract a lot of toxic people. I don’t think much can be done about it and, sadly, russianballetvideo2 isn’t the worst example of this sort of behaviour. Far from it… I hope students and young dancers can learn to see through the bullshit and not take these clowns and their moronic followers seriously. 

I don’t think that this is the reason VBA stopped releasing videos of their exams though. And they haven’t actually stopped. Not really. They release videos on case-by-case basis. You can certainly find footage of Tsiskaridze’s and Sirotin’s exams on youtube and the academy’s social media.

Do you know if Nikolai keeps up with his graduates? Like does he go to their performances?

As far as I know, he tries to. I think he’s made an effort to make himself available as much as possible (even if it only means an occasional text or phonecall), but he is ridiculously busy. I know that he helped Egor Gerashchenko prepare for his debut as Von Rothbart at the Bolshoi, and photos of him having coffee with his grads pop up online every now and then. He does try.

Hi! Do you maybe know why Asya Bogdashkina and Ksenia Sevenard are not on the center bar anymore? I was really surprised when I saw Kuzmichyovas video!

I don’t, I’m afraid. As I mention here, there can be many reasons for that.

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