Category: anastasia lukina

Anastasia Lukina as Maria in The Fountain of Bakhchisarai (Mariinsky Ballet)

Anastasia Lukina as Kitty in Anna Karenina (Mariinsky Ballet)


How long did it take Lukina and Shakirova to be promoted?

I believe Shakirova was promoted coryphee and then to second soloist within one year of joining the company. She has now been promoted to first soloist. Lukina followed a similar path / timeframe but a bit slower pace because of an injury. 

Which Mariinsky primas are nearing retirement?

“Nearing retirement” is a pretty broad term. Some ballerinas dance well into their forties. Tereshkina and Kondaurova are the oldest / longest serving primas in the company. I’m not counting Vishneva because I feel that she has unofficially retired from classical ballet and will only dance contemporary / modern from now on (years ago, she said that this was indeed her intention after having children). Plus, she hasn’t performed with the company in a few years.

Why is May Nagahisa hated on so much? She really is an outstanding if very young dancer who still needs to develop (as do so many others) and totally deserved the promotion in my opinion. Her sylph was etheral!

She’s an outsider. She’s a foreigner who didn’t train in Russia and she joined the company via traineeship, which is not a very common career path in Russia. Any dancer who progresses through the ranks quickly receives some form of backlash, but an outsider like May would be judged even more harshly.

Could you please tell me why mariinsky is more famous than Mikhailovsky? Ty

The Mariinsky was founded in 1783. It was Russia’s Imperial Theatre – the heart of Russian ballet. This is where “Sleeping Beauty”, “Swan Lake” (in the incarnation we know and love today) and “The Nutcracker” were born, and the greatest Russian ballet dancers performed. Mikhailovsky was founded a bit later, in 1833. Correct me if I’m wrong, by I think that it served as a stage for foreign companies until the revolution, and the actual Mikhailovsky company wasn’t formed until 1918. So culturally and historically, the Mariinsky is older and more significant. 

I think we can all unanimously agree that Khoreva’s gonna be the next Mariinsky principal, can’t we?

Well, no. While she’s likely to be promoted to that rank at some point in the future, I think some ballerinas (like Novikova and Shakirova) will get there first. So technically she won’t be “the next”.

What happens when in the next few years most of the current Mariinsky primas retire? As the Mariinsky is slow in promoting they’d have to promote a bunch of dancers like Khoreva, Lukina, Shakirova… and I don’t see that happening.

I think they’re slowly lining up the new generation of primas, though it will be years before the changeover fully takes place. They have some tremendously talented dancers in the corps and more are joining every year. I’m actually not nearly as concerned about the future of the company as I used to be.

From an instastory picture of a Mariinsky Nov. 21st Giselle program, I saw that Vlada Borodulina (Peasant Pas/Moyna debut) had “первое выступление лауреат международного конкурса” next to her name. I know the first part is ‘First Performance’ but wasn’t sure what the last part meant. It sounded like she won a competition? But I wasn’t sure. Curious if you had any clue. Thanks!

“первое выступление” means “first performance; “лауреат международного конкурса" mean “Laureate (award winner) of an international competition”.

Could Shapran be the next Mariinsky principal?

Your guess is as good as mine. My gut feeling is that Novikova will be promoted ahead of her.

Zolotykh is dancing, however she seems to have become one of those dancers who is strictly a corps dancer. She occasionally will perform one of the three Goldfish in ’(I forgot whichever Opera it is)’.

That makes me sad. I hope she progressed beyond those roles. I’ve been really rooting for her since her injury.

Mariinsky’s website says they will be performing ‘Fairy Doll’ in the spring– though nothing to indicate it is a VBA performance, like there normally is. This would be the first time the actual company has performed it in years. Since it was revived by VBA, and so many of those students who revived it are now in the company, do you think we’ll see those students perform those roles i.e, Khoreva=Fairy Doll, Borodulina=Spanish, Ionova=Chinese, etc, or will MT bring a whole new cast?

They haven’t announced the cast yet, but I actually think it will be performed by Vaganova Academy students.

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Do you know what happened to Svetlana Savilieva? Per her instagram photos it looks like she had surgery of some sort (on her knee?).

She had extra bones (Os Trigonum) removed from her ankle. Apparently, it’s a pretty common problem with dancers. Although, she did mention that the condition hadn’t actually been confirmed. So it looks like the operation may have been a bit of a gamble… Sveta seems in good spirits though, and has documented the whole thing in insta stories. I hope she makes a quick recovery, but I don’t think we’ll see her in “Nutcracker” this year. Which is disappointing.

You said in a recent post that only 5-10% of students who start in grade 1 complete their studies and that Katerina Kuzmicheva was especially impressive as she has. Is that different than any other student (Say, one of the girls showcased in the Little Swans documentary or Khoreva or Ionova) finishing their schooling or am I missing something and Kuzmicheva is extra special?

Sorry, I should have worded it better / clearer. What I was trying to say is that any student who makes it through all eight years at Vaganova deserves respect and admiration, because it is an incredibly hard training program to survive.  

1st of all, thank you for the Vishneva interview translation! 2nd, regarding your comment about Katya Kuzmicheva, I find it interesting that, along w/ her, actually most of her class has made it from first to grad year: Sevenard, Bogdashkina, Uzanskaya, Frolova (who never left VBA), K. Spiridonova, Y. Spiridonova, Ustyuzhanina, Legacheva… this MUST be more than in previous years, no? Really of those graduating, only Khiteeva, Savelieva & foreign students joined after 1st yr. Seems remarkable!

You’re very welcome! Yes, you’re right, there are quite a few girls in Kuzmicheva’s year who made it through the entire Vaganova training program. I’m not sure how it compares to the class of 2018 though. The number varies from year to year, but it is generally pretty small. 

Re the new paid option for students starting in 1st grade, it was anounced that selected candidates who passed the first and second part of the audition but not the third, would be eligible to pay. So I envisioned a class of paid students. But it appears that only a couple of first year students were accepted as paid students, and they are integrated into regular classes. Do you know if this is correct? Will there be a switch if these students perform better than the others in the annual exam?

As I am not affiliated with Vaganova Academy, I can’t give you the exact information about the paid program. If I had to venture an educated guess, I would say that the number of paid places would be strictly limited, meaning that there wouldn’t be enough paid students to make up an entire class. Also, it wouldn’t make sense to train the paying students separately or otherwise treat them differently. Logically, there should be a relatively small number of paying students who are integrated into the rest of the cohort. 

What did Svetlana S said about her weight in her insta?

She detailed her experience of achieving rapid and extreme weight loss, what triggered it, how she did it, what effect it had on her body, and how she recovered. I have read similar accounts by Vaganova students and grads before, and they’re not pretty. I briefly considered translating some of them, as they highlight the dangers such choices pose, but then I realised that I will potentially be giving some vulnerable people step-by-step instructions on how to starve themselves. Tumblrs is already filled with pro-ana crap and I don’t want to contribute to it.

This summer I discovered that YouTube was a hot bed for ballet videos and thanks to the RT documentaries there I found myself watching many Vaganova graduation performances. Questions: Do graduates like Khoreva, etc—dancers with great primal potential—happen every year? And how many have corporate sponsors? Khoreva has Bloch & Nike—even young Olya Morgulets is a Merlet ambassador!

No, students of Khoreva’s potential are pretty rare. Obviously, Vaganova generally produces graduates of a very high caliber, but I’d say that ones like Masha come along once or twice in a generation. And that’s if we’re lucky. 

None of the students have corporate sponsors, but some do develop working relationships with major brands (that’s a bit different from having a sponsor). 

I had also been wondering about Alena Lebedeva. She still has the Instagram account alionas_kate but it isn’t clear if she is still a Vaganova student.

It looks like she may now be a student of the Rudolph Nureyev Ballet Academy in Ufa.

In the past ten years, who do you think the top 5 VBA grads have been?

  • Olga Smirnova (2011)
  • Renata Shakirova (2015)
  • Anastasia Lukina (2015)
  • Alena Kovaleva / Maria Ilyushkina (I couldn’t decide between them) (2016)
  • Maria Khoreva (2018)

That’s just my personal view.

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Maria Khoreva will debut as Paquita in the Mariinsky’s production of the eponymous ballet on October 14 (thanks for blowing up my inbox guys 😂). I’ll take this opportunity to answer some questions,

In her Instagram story today, Maria Khoreva linked to her list of upcoming performances on the Mariinsky’s website. It looks like she’s dancing Paquita in October in St. Petersburg. I know she’s exceptional, but is it unusual for such a recent graduate to get a principal role?

Wow Khoreva is already taking lead roles in the Mariinsky ! This is not a very common occurrence is it?

Actually, it is. When the company is invested in a dancer they consider to be prima / principal material, they give them solos very early on. Fateyev is all about giving dancers an opportunity to prove themselves. Renata Shakirova was performing soloist roles with the Mariinsky while still a student, as was Zhiganshina. And once she joined the company, Shakirova was virtually buried in leading roles. To some extent, so was Lukina, although she suffered an injury early on and was out of circulation for some time. Bulanova danced Effie straight out of school… There are many similar examples. If Khoreva proves herself now, she’s going to move through the ranks pretty quickly. I don’t want to jinx her, but I’ll think she’ll be a soloist in two years tops.

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Anastasia Lukina as Princess Florine, and Konstantin Ivkin as Bluebird, in The Sleeping Beauty (Mariinsky Ballet 2015)


Ksenia Zhiganshina and Anastasia Lukina

Anastasia Lukina as the Sylph in La Sylphide (Mariinsky Ballet, 2017)


There seems to be such a huge difference between the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky companies. The former seems to be full of intrigue and drama, suffering from unstable leadership. The latter seems to be much more stable – or is it just because the behind the scenes turmoil isn’t made public?

Mariinsky has had its fair share of drama over the years, but they keep it all behind closed doors. The Bolshoi’s geopolitical locations (smack-bang in the middle of Moscow, next to the Kremlin) is a disadvantage when it comes to intrigue and drama. Things tend to spill out on to the streets pretty quickly. One could also argue (Tsiskairdze said this once too) that the St Petersburg folk are more reserved and polite and don’t thrive on scandal like the Muscovites do. 

Is the Mariinsky suffering from a drought of young talent? At the soloist level there are only 4 (female) dancers that I know of who graduated in the past 10 years: Anastasia Lukina, Renata Shakirova, Nadezda Batoeva and Kristina Shapran. A bit of a worrying phenomenon, isn’t it?

No, I don’t think so. 

While I’m unhappy with some of the current Mariinsky principals, there are a lot of incredibly talented dancers coming up through the ranks. Lukina and Shakirova are great examples and they only graduated in 2015. The fact that they are already second soloists is absolutely incredible. And the amount of amazing dancers they have in the corps right now (crème de la crème of Vaganova graduates) is also very promising. Dancers tend to progress through the Mariinsky ranks very slowly but that’s due to the company’s relatively (compared to the Bolshoi) modest size and repertoire. There are only so many spots. I will very optimistic about the Mariinsky’s future. I’ll feel even better if / when they hire Khoreva.

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Eleonora Sevenard: 

  • Will debut as Juanita in “Don Quixote” on the 20th of December

Alena Kovaleva:

  • Has debuted as Mireille de Poitiers in “The Flames of Paris” on the 17th of December
  • Will debut as Queen of the Dryads in “Don Quixote” on the 20th December

Egor Gerashchenko and Oscar Frame will be performing the Final Waltz and Apotheosis in “The Nutcracker” throughout December..

Anastasia Lukina:

Has debuted as Maria in “The Fountain of Bakhchisarai”

Thank you to the anon who keeps sending me these updates. This time of the year is very busy for my irl so I don’t have time to keep tabs on the graduates.