Category: keenan kampa

Keenan Kampa – TriBeCa, New York City

The Ballerina Project book is now available for pre-order on Amazon:

With the upcoming conclusion of the Ballerina Project limited edition prints will be only available for purchase until the beginning of July 2019. Go to to purchase one of these beautiful and special limited edition prints from the Ballerina Project.

Keenan Kampa – West Village, New York City

The Ballerina Project book is now available for pre-order on Amazon:

With the upcoming conclusion of the Ballerina Project limited edition prints will be only available for purchase until the beginning of July 2019. Go to to purchase one of these beautiful and special limited edition prints from the Ballerina Project.

Keenan Kampa – East River, New York City

The Ballerina Project book is now available for pre-order on Amazon:

We are now offering large format limited edition prints in the 20×30 & 30×40 inch print sizes. Go to to purchase one of these beautiful and special limited edition prints from the Ballerina Project.


Did Vaganova have a year with two graduation classes? Also where did Skorik train? I thought Perm

Skorik studied in Perm State Choreographic College. Each Vaganova grade is divided into several streams, each headed by a different teacher. This way, class sizes are kept to a minimum. The final year (Grade 8 / Level III) is divided into four streams: two boys’ and two girls’ classes. The teachers are: Kovaleva, Kasenkova, Ilyin and Miozzi.

Hi! I’ve just discovered your blog and I’ve been reading your posts non stop 🙂 I read one of your answers about body modification on the VBA students; specifically about tattos being out of the question… what if a student gets a tattoo? I think Khiteeva has an arrow on the side of her wrist…

I don’t know if Khiteeva is over 18. That might play a role. However, I don’t think many students would risk the teachers’ wrath by getting a tattoo before they graduate. Seems like a silly thing to do. 

Do you have an estimate of how many students fail their exams each year? Like is it common to fail?

It varies form year to year. I think there VBA “thin the herd” a little in 3rd and 5th grade, and most of expulsions happen around that time.

Hi! I was wondering if you could tell which five girls were dancing on the centre/back barre in Kate Panda’s most recent Instagram video?

Katya answers that question in the comments.

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How does the duet exam work with so many more girls than boys at Vaganova? The poor guys do it more than once?

They arrange the combinations in a way that works with the number students.

Hello! Would you know why they stopped allowing filming of the exams? I love watching them and following their progress … seems sad that they wouldn’t allow filming anymore, especially of the graduating year …

VBA exams are filmed professionally on regular basis, but the footage is for internal use and examination only. VBA main argument against releasing the footage is that exams are part of the teaching process and the public don’t need to see it. That hasn’t stopped students from filming and posting videos of the exams on instagram though.

The footage of Tsiskaridze’s classes taking their classical exam get released, but I think that that is due to the fact that Nikolai has to keep proving himself and constantly show the results of his work.

Has Marko Juusela transfered to Vaganova all together? Or is he still a foreign student? What year is he in? He seems to be one of the best in his class.

Marko is an international trainee. There’s no way for a trainee to become a “local” student. They receive a traineeship diploma at the end of their time at VBA. The only notable exception to this was Keenan Kampa, who received a full diploma upon graduating from the academy.

Hi Melmoth! Hope you had a good start to the week 🙂 I wanted to ask if you know the reason why the VBA teachers often wear similar shoes that seem to have high arches? Tsiskaridze sometimes wears them and I can’t stop wondering about it.

I think you’re referring to the Grishko sneakers which the teachers often wear. It’s comfortable professional dance footwear – I suppose that’s why they wear them.

Do you think body type will effect a student’s place on the barre? I notice sometimes, there’s a girl on the front of the side barre who seems to be a stronger dancer than a girl on the edge of the center barre, but the side barre girl has a very different body type so she wouldn’t fit in with the rest of the center barre girls. I’ve also noticed it seems like the tall/thinner girls are usually on one side barre and the shorter/a bit less thin girls on another side barre.

No, I don’t think body type is very likely to affect a student’s position at the barre. 

For the students who take part in performances at the Mariinsky: when do they rehearse these? Is it structured into their daily schedules? If so what do the students not performing do?

Rehearsal time is generally in the evening and the afternoon, after the classes finish. Given how many performances VBA students have been giving / been a part of in the last five years, I doubt students are ever idle. There’s always something going on.

Hi Melmoth! It seems like the grads this year will get a chance to perform their Graduation at Mariinsky and Bolshoi!(i noticed it in one of the grad’s IG). I’m not surprise with the Performance at Mariinsky but on the Bolshoi’s stage is a big surprise don’t you think?Especially when BBA&VBA are rivals and the Bolshoi doesn’t like Tsiskaridze since then. Maybe now it’s not that strained anymore but i just wanna know your thinking,how do you think the school might have done to perform at Bolshoi?

The information about one of the graduation shows taking place at the Bolshoi has been out for some time now (and the tickets have been on sale for ages). It’s not that strange, given that the academy is celebrating their 280th jubilee this year. Many of the former graduates (Zakharova, Smirnova, Obraztsova, etc) will be taking part in the graduation gala.  

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Who was Keenan Kampa’s teacher at Vaganova?

Professor Tatiana Udalenkova.

Do you know what the purpose of the reserve troupe is for the theatres?

I believe it’s the lowest rank in the company. They get to dance a little but mostly they are seen as the reserves for the corps de ballet proper.

From recent posts by Maria Khoreva we can see that she is visiting/using the rooms at the VBA. Is she working on the performance that the graduates do or is that just something former students can do?

It’s not uncommon for graduates to return to Vaganova to train, especially early in the academic year, when they getting in shape for the upcoming season at their respective theatres. If the grads have ongoing relationships with their teacher, they can gain permission to ocassionally attend class and train at the academy.

Thank you for not including Svetlana Savelieva in your list of dancers to watch. I like her very much but I am aware she has quite a few haters too, many of whom are very vocal about it. If you had posted her name on your list, there would be so much drama I think. Svetlana is absolutely lovely and like you, I hope this will be her year too!

That’s a valid concern, but that wasn’t the reason I didn’t include her. I have a zero-tolerance policy when it comes to bs both on here and on instagram. I come down on trolls and haters like a ton of bricks.

I actually adopted this very harsh personal policy because of Sveta. A few years ago I posted a group photo VBA students on instagram and woke up the following morning (due to the time difference a lot of the activity on my socials happens while I’m asleep) to find a string of comments calling Sveta fat. She saw the thread and was devastated by it. I later found out that she started starving herself around that time. Even though the comments on my instagram weren’t the main catalyst for her decision, they surely weren’t helpful either. It’s been like two years and I’m still angry about that situation. 

Ever since then, I now immediately block anyone who even mentions the girls bodies in a remotely negative light and I do not engage in any negotiation when people ask me to unblock them. People can be absolute assholes and not care about the very real damage they can cause.

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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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