Category: fethon miozzi



Elena Zabalkanskaya and her students.


Natalia Yananis and her students.


Fethon Miozzi and his students.


Maria Gribanova and her students.



This might be a strange question, but I wonder if there are any restrictions as to where a child is from that will prevent them from being accepted into Vaganova? So, would a child from areas around Chernobyl for example be allowed to audition or would they be immediately turned away?

It’s interesting that you use Chernobyl as an example. I suppose you are interested in health issues that may prevent a child from auditioning for Vaganova? VBA have a document on their website with a very long list of health issues which would prevent a child from studying at the academy, and medical examination is a big part of the audition process (many of the children fail it).

Chernobyl is located in the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. The area has been abandoned since 1986, which means that any infant or child who was there during the Chernobyl disaster would be in their 30s now. The aftermath of the disaster is too complicated to get into. Suffice to say that it is devastating and far-reaching. I knew a woman who was evacuated from Chernobyl after the explosion and gave birth to a child with severe developmental issues many years later. It’s tragic. I suppose a child of a parent (or even a grand-parent) from Chernobyl is likely to suffer serious health issues, which would prevent them from auditioning. 

Hello i have i question that i don’t know if it’s relevant. I saw an old movie about vaganova academy ( the name of the video :the best ballet school in the world strict russian ballet) And I can’t recognize the girl who dancing masha in nutcracker she look very good and I want to know what she is doing today do you know something about that? Thanks anyways for all the information you are posting in this blog.

That’s Maria Chugay. She won 2nd place in the 2006 Vaganova Prix, graduated with honours around that time, and danced with the Mariinsky for a while, before joining Dutch National Ballet in 2009. She’s been there ever since. You can find her on YouTube.

In Kovaleva’s recent interview, she mentions that sometimes, once a dancer matures, she turns out to be too short/doesn’t grow. I know this was a concern for Olga Morgulets in the Dance of the Little Swans documentary, so I’m wondering if you know what the academy considers too short to be an employable dancer?

I don’t know for sure, but I suppose anything below 160cm would be considered problematic, as would anything over 175cm. This is just guesswork on my part, though. If anyone knows otherwise, do let me know.

hi! do they take academic classes into account for the red diploma? or just ballet?

Yes, they do. Which is why Eleonora Sevenard didn’t graduate with honours – she didn’t do too well academically (I’m only using her as an example because Tsiskaridze kept bringing it up during her final year).

I’m a bit confused about VBA’s structure with teachers. Do students have one classical teacher throughout their time at the academy, or is the class they graduate from only for their final year? (ie would Khoreva and Ionova have had Kovaleva from day 1 or just for the 8th year?) Why do only a couple of classical teachers graduate students in a given year?

Typically, a student will have studied under several teachers by the time they graduate. For example, Maria Khoreva studied under Alkanova, Zabalkanskaya and Kovaleva. This has to do with the fact that different teachers specialise in training students at different levels. Diana Vishneva claims to had studied under Kovaleva from day one, but that has been disputed

As for the graduating classes, most of the graduates complete Grade 8 / Level III at Vaganova, though some students may choose to graduate early (Grade 7 / Level II), though they receive a different (slightly lesser) qualification. Grades are broken into four groups – 8a Girls, 8a Boys, 8b Girls, 8b Boys – two girl classes and two boy classes, with each class having a dedicated teacher. This keeps class sizes small and allows teachers to really focus on each individual student. 

Class of 2018 were taught by the following teachers:

  • Kovaleva (8A Girls)
  • Ilyin (8A Boys)
  • Miozzi (8B Girls)
  • Kasenkova (8B Girls)

The year below (graduating next year) is taught by:

  • Tsiskaridze (7A Boys)
  • Sitnikova (7A Girls)
  • Vasilieva (7B Girls)
  • Ermolenkov (7B Boys)

I hope that makes sense.

Recently I found 3 girls who were in the “corps de ballet” of Suite en Blanc who attracted my attention on instagram because they are particularly young: Sofia Dinershtein, Kaitlyn Zylka, and Maria Cherynyavskaya. They are in grade school (5/9 I believe), and I was quite impressed that they were dancing in such a mature ballet at such a young age. Do you have any opinions on them?

All I can say about “Suite en Blanc” and everyone involved in the performances is that I was completely blown away by what I saw. All the students did an amazing job and, like yourself, I was surprised to see so many younger students involved in the production and impressed by their performance.

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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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