Category: imperial russian ballet

Ask Responses: Mariinsky


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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Ask Responses: Vaganova


It appears that Khiteeva is rehearsing the lead in ‘Waltz of the Hours’ that Khoreva performed for graduation. Any news on if VBA has plans to perform that anytime soon?

I think VBA will (or already have) perform at the Mariinsky as part of the annual Cultural Forum that’s on in St Petersburg at the moment.

Thanks for posting the link to the new docu! Any idea where I can find it with English subtitles?

I’d like to know if they’re planning to release another version with English subs, but something’s telling me they won’t. To be honest, the doco (though very beautifully and intelligently made) didn’t present a lot of new information. There are certain parts of it that I’d like to translate, but I’m not sure when and if I will have the time…

For how long has VBA done shows on the stage of the Mariinsky?

I think they’ve been performing pretty much since 1738, when the academy was created by the order of Anna of Russia. Of course, the nature of the performances and the relationship between the academy and the theatre have changed and grown over the years, but that relationship had been there from the get-go. The academy’s role is to train dancers for the Mariinsky, so naturally the relationship between the company and the school is a symbiotic one. I can’t remember exactly when the younger students started taking part in professional performances, but I assume it had happened during Petipa’s tenure.

You mentioned that Bulanova had a rocky time in VBA. Can I ask what happened/what the story is there? I love her dancing but I’m not very familiar with her.

I don’t know the details, but I believe that she is one of the very small percentage of students who got kicked out at VBA only to come back with a vengeance. She really had to fight hard to get to where she is now.

I recently read something on some kind of limitations or problems regarding Anastasia Smirnova? Do you have any idea what that is refering to?

I’m afraid not. Could you send me a link to the article you read please? That might shed some light on the matter.

Do you think 2019’s future grads like Khiteeva and Smirnova will even stand a chance of promotion in Mariinsky or Bolshoi seeing as they’re both already filled with a lot of promising and extremely talented young dancers?

I honestly don’t know. The competition to get into the Bolshoi and the Mariinsky is always fierce, but I doubt that either company would let gems like Khiteeva and Smirnova slip away. The real question is whether they’ll be able to progress beyond the corps if they do get in.

Do you know when Ionova and Nuykina entered VBA?

Ionova herself said in a recent interview that she got in at 18, which makes o sense to me since she’s been around at VBA since the age of 15 (by my calculations). Not sure how that one worked out… Nuykina got in in 2014 (she must have been around 14.

@decadentwinnertoaddean: Hi, I read the interview with Daria Ionova on La personne. Since I used google translate, I am not sure that I understood, especially when she tells her story. She says that she decided to be a professional dancer only as a teenager, when she started to win competitions and to receive offers from Vba to join the academy. However, then she tells that she joined the academy only when she was 18, because she was refused when she was 15. I don’t understand: if she was offered, why was she refused?

Yeah, like I said above, I’m really confused about that one too…

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Nikolai Tsiskaridze and Irina Kolpakova attended (and spoke at) the opening of “Petipa. Dacnomania” exhibition in St Petersburg. Photos by Tatiana Gord. 

As [Ratmansky] has become more conversant in P…

As [Ratmansky] has become more conversant in Petipa’s style, his freedom within it has increased.  In The Sleeping Beauty, he was adamant that the women should raise their legs up only 90 degrees and not point their feet when they stood at rest, but rather hold them in a semi-relaxed position.  Many of the women’s turns were executed with the foot on half tiptoe rather than fully on the tips of the toes.

These period details were difficult to maintain –  the dancers kept going back to their old habits, he said – so he hasn’t insisted on them in Harlequinade.  ‘It requires too much time to make it work, and there are never enough rehearsals,’ he said.

The key is the simplicity of the phrases.  Pep…

The key is the simplicity of the phrases.  Pepita’s choreography is so simple, and so wise.  Everything feels inevitable.

[Harlequinade] isn’t Mr. Ratmansky’s inv…

[Harlequinade] isn’t Mr. Ratmansky’s invention, but rather a restaging of a comedy by Marius Petipa, originally called ‘Les Millions d’Arlequin,’ or ‘Harlequin’s Millions’.  It was first performed in 1900 in St. Petersburg, where it remained in the repertory for almost three decades.

…There were later versions of Harlequinade in Russia by Fyodor Lopukhov (in the 1930’s) and Pyotr Gusev (in the 1970’s); and, at New York City Ballet, by George Balanchine (1965, with additions in 1973).  As with most later stagings of Petipa, they were loosely based on the original –  Balanchine made up his own steps, ‘in the style of’ Petipa – but none made any claim of authenticity.

What [Ratmansky] hasn’t dropped is his f…

What [Ratmansky] hasn’t dropped is his focus on the specificity of Petipa’s style.  ‘Even the arabesques and the arms and the angles of the body tell us something about the character or the situation,’ Mr. Ratmansky said.  Many of those details had been smoothed out over time.  In a pose from the final pas de deux, for example, he asked the dancer to twist her shoulders slightly so that she could peer back at her partner:  ‘There’s a lot of story here; you’re telling us about your fear.’  The pose wasn’t just pretty; it carried meaning.

The Royal Ballet and the Mariinsky are two of …

The Royal Ballet and the Mariinsky are two of the world’s finest classical companies, yet different in so many ways.  The Mariinsky was formed in the 1740s and The Royal Ballet came into being two centuries later.  There is, however, an important thread that links the two companies.  Shortly after The Royal Ballet was formed, Ninette de Valois invited Vladimir Stepanov to mount ballets for the fledgling company using the  choreographic notation he had taken out of St Petersburg after the 1917 revolution.  In this way, Petipa came to London.



Agrippina Vaganova was born on this day (June 26) in 1879.



Agrippina Vaganova at home. The 1910s and the 1940s.