Category: marko juusela

Wow in the video you posted of Juusela at IV “Russian Ballet” Competition, I *love* that at 1:23 the camera catches Tsiszaridze positively beaming at Juusela, then Tsiszaridze immediately goes back to glowering. If the camera had panned to him three seconds later, it would have looked like he was very displeased with Marko's performance. He's my spirit animal.

He is the most entertaining person to watch.

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IV “Russian Ballet” Competition. Performances by Vaganova Ballet Academy students Mikhail Barkidjija, Alexandra Khiteeva and Marko Juusela.

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To answer the questions and messages I’ve received, here’s the full list of the comp winners:

Grand Prix 

  • Dmitry Smilevski (BBA)

I Prize 

  • Elizaveta Kokoreva (BBA)
  • Mikhail Barkidjidja (VBA)

II Prize

  • Alexandra Khiteeva (VBA)
  • Marko Juusela (VBA) 

III Prize

  • Anastasia Plotnikova (BBA)
  • Alexei Khamzin (Perm)

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Vaganova Ballet Academy students Mikhail Barkidjija, Anastasia Smirnova, Alexandra Khiteeva and Marko Juusela are taking part in the IV “Russian Ballet” Competition. 

You can watch livestream of the competition gala here at 6pm local (Moscow) time tonight. 


Vaganova Ballet Academy students Mikhail Barkidjija (class of Nikolai Tsiskaridze), Alexandra Khiteeva (class of Irina Sitnikova) and Marko Juusela (class of Nikolai Tsiskaridze) took out I and II awards respectively at the IV “Russian Ballet” Competition!


Vaganova Ballet Academy acting exam.


Vaganova Ballet Academy acting exam.

(April 2018)


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.

A post shared by Kate Panda (@katepanda007) on

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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Here are the winners of Vaganova-PRIX!


Kristina Spiridinova says on her instagram that she is vegan. Are there many other students at the school who are vegetarian/vegan?

There probably are, but I don’t know of any. I didn’t even know Spiridinova was vegan.

@themarwhal: are there videos from the performance at the hermitage theater from 9/28?

Is there a video of the Hermitage performance? And do you know who danced the Nutcracker Pas de Trois?

Who are the older students that performed at the Hermitage museum most recently?

Aviva Gelfer-Mundl (“La Bayadere”), Elizaveta Avsadzhanishvili, Ivan Poddubnyak and Dmitry Sobolev (”The Fairy Doll”), Anastasia Smirnova (“Le Corsaire”), Valeria Bespalova (“The Awakening of Flora”), Alexandra Khiteeva, Mikhail BarkidjijaMarko Juusela, Evgeni Bolotskikh, Ivan Poddubnyak and Alexander Polupanov (”the Nutcracker”), Aaron Osawa-Horowitz (“Actaeon”)

Sorry, I couldn’t find any videos. Only little snippets

Did anything come from the discussions about building a swimming pool for Vaganova students? Sounds such a good idea..

It’s a great idea but I haven’t heard anything about it in a while. I’m not surprised though; things like this take absolute ages to get done. I’m surprised it only took Nikolai two years to get the Petipa memorial plaque approved. That’s basically the speed of light in terms of Russian bureaucracy.

Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe that Daria Neupokoeva (@dashaballet) is no longer at VBA. She was in the same class as Sartakova and Chernyavskaya from the first grade. It’s a shame if so, I remember in earlier years she really stood out, doing a lot of solo parts etc. But I guess that’s the brutality of it all, isn’t it.

I believe Dasha is now training in Novosibirsk. It appears that she fell victim to the carnage that are VBA exams… That just goes to show that no one, no matter how talented or successful (Neupokoeva danced the part of little Masha) they are, is guaranteed to survive at VBA.

I think one reason that not much has been heard about the Vladivostock students is that the first group are still in the lower grades.

Yes, that too.

Hi Melmoth – Are there 3 female final year Vaganova classes? (Savelieva’s, Khiteeva’s, and Smirnova’s). I’m confused by the ‘Kovaleva class’ posts on Instagram!

It looks like there are, actually. Which is rare. There are three graduating female classes (Grade 8 / Level III): Zhelonkina’s, Sitnikova’s and Vasilieva’s. Tsiskaridze is teaching all the graduating boys. 

Professor Kovaleva is training Grade 7 / Level II. Elizaveta Avsadzhanishvili and Anastasia Smirnova are in that class; they are graduating in 2020.

on kuzmicheva’s instagram there is a photo of her at the enrollment ceremony holding a red book and microphone? do you know what she might have been doing there/what her role in the proceedings was?

She was one of the MCs.

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