Category: vaganova ballet academy


About Ballet Flowers, showing exam videos is one thing but making money off the girls in the videos and VBA (through the “Join” subscription) is another thing. Especially if the monies are not shared with the girls and VBA.

Was Ballet Flowers monetized? I’ve wondered about that. If the owner was making money off the channel than it’s a different matter altogether… 

This ballet flowers situation has had me a bit confused: they’ve been posting for quite some times, many years actually, and during all this time they weren’t allowed to? This is just out of curiosity, like you said, it’s sad but fair, but how did they manage to post for such a long time while they’d yet to obtain the authorization?

I assume copyright claims aren’t processed overnight. VBA have been talking about pursuing unauthorised channels like Ballet Flowers for years. I think it would’ve taken YouTube time to review, process and action their copyright claim. I also have a feeling that VBA got a lot more serious about copyright after Tsiskaridze took over. That what happens when your rector has a law degree I guess…

I find it really honorable and considerate that you take caution to what you post in regards to VBA’s policies while operating under Nikolai’s name. Has you using his name led to issues between you and the Academy (or even himself) in the past?

I haven’t had any issues as such, but I have been asked by Nikolai’s team to take certain videos down and make minor changes to the account. Usually these requests have something to do with copyright of the item I’ve posted, timing, or administrative processes. I actually feel a lot better knowing that Nikolai’s team is monitoring the account and will get in touch if I do something wrong. They’ve always been very polite and I am always accommodating to them.  

Nikolai knows about the instagram and has spoken about it publicly. He reminded people that he doesn’t have social media accounts (the instagram account has a disclaimer in it’s bio btw), but also said that he is glad that the account exists and is grateful to the admin.

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The Fairy Doll (Vaganova Ballet Academy, 2017)


Hi! Do you happen to know how Olga Morgulets is going post-Vaganova? I’ve seen some Instagram posts where she is dancing at the Hermitage Theatre, was that a student performance? Thanks! Love your blog by the way!

Thank you! It’s been reported that Olga is now training at the Dolgushin School of Ballet in St Petersburg, as is Yana Cherepanova. I think their school puts on regular performances.

would there be any way to find out what the reading requirements are when a student at the VBA ? (as in required books for lessons such as ballet history etc) If not , do you have any readings you’d recommend for ballet history? It can be in Russian or English . Thank you)

If we’re talking about local (Russian) students entering VBA as part of the Academy’s standard audition process – then they must have completed their secondary education (finished grade 4 in a regular school). That’s the only academic requirement. I’m sure that having basic knowledge of ballet history, music history and theatre history would be helpful, but it’s not compulsory – those are all the subject students learn at the Academy. 

In terms of resources, I’m really not sure what to tell you… I’m actually working on putting together a list of ballet, opera and classical music resources, so hopefully I can share something soon. I the meantime, the internet is chock-full of documentaries about ballet, and if you speak Russian then you have a massive advantage. For example, here’s a two-part doco on the Mariinsky, which VBA shared on their Facebook page recently:

Is Sofya Khoreva related to Maria Khoreva?

Yes, she’s Maria’s younger sister.

Do you see the similarity between Zakharova and Anastasia Smirnova? I see it in their looks but not their dancing style.

I think there are a lot of similarities in their looks and physique, so people often do a double-take when they see Smirnova. Of course, Anastasia is only at the very start of her career and her style is still developing (plus, you can’t compare anyone to Zakharova). I do think that you can tell that Smirnova is professor Kovaleva’s student. There’s something about her students that similar…

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Lydia Kyasht was born 135 years ago today (25 March). Kyasht trained at Imperial Ballet Academy (Vaganova Ballet Academy), and was part of class of 1902. Her classmates included Tamara Karsavina, and the two women remained close friends for many years.

The Russian-born ballet dancer Kyasht studied at the St Petersburg Imperial Ballet school and joined the Maryinsky Theatre in 1902. Kyasht moved to London and was engaged by the Empire Theatre in 1908, she made her debut in London in a series of divertissements with Adolf Bolm. She became principal dancer at the Empire Theatre, 1908-13. She appeared as Swanilde in Coppélia (1908) and premiered in Sylvia (1911). In 1912 she danced with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, whom she rejoined in 1919, when she alternated the part of the Young Girl in Papillons with Lydia Lopokova and appeared in Les Sylphides. – Source


Lydia Kyasht with her close friends and Imperial Ballet Academy (Vaganova Ballet Academy) classmates, Tamara Karsavina and Elena Polyakova. 1902.


Vaganova Ballet Academy has lost another great teacher. Professor Nikolai Nikolayevich Boyarchikov passed away on March 22, 2020.

Boyarchikov was born in 1935, into the family of one of the first Soviet pilots, Nikolai Boyarchikov, and Vaganova Ballet Academy* teacher, Maria Boyarchikova. During WWII, the Boyarchikov family was evacuated to Perm, where Nikolai started his ballet training. Sadly, Boyarchikov‘s father died during the St Petersburg (Leningrad) blockade.

Upon his return to St Petersburg, Boyarchikov joined Vaganova Ballet Academy*, graduating in 1954 (class of Boris Shavrov). He danced with the Mikhailovsky Theatre** until his retirement in 1971.

In 1956, Boyarchikov had started working as a choreographer. Some of his works, most notably “The Three Musketeers”, were staged in the Mikhailovsky Theatre**. He was Perm Ballet’s chief choreographer from 1971 to 1977. From 1977 to 1990 he worked as the chief choreographer of Mikhailovsky Theatre**, later serving as the theatre’s Artistic Director from 1990 to 2007. 

In 2001, Boyarchikov returned to his Alma Mater. He and served as the head of the Balletmaster Training Faculty at the Academy from 2001 until his death. 

*Then Leningrad Choreographic School
**Then Maly Leningrad Theatre of Opera and Ballet


Vaganova Ballet Academy has lost another great teacher. Professor Nikolai Nikolayevich Boyarchikov passed away on March 22, 2020.

La Esmeralda (full ballet)

Romeo and Juliet (fragments)

Faust (full ballet)


COVID-19 messages from Vaganova Ballet Academy students. The academy has stopped physical classes until mid-April to protect its students.


In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19 and protect its students, the Performance Faculty of Vaganova Ballet Academy has ceased all physical classes.

Grades 1 – 5 have been sent on their spring break early; Level I / Grade 6 – Level III / Grade 8 have switched to remote education mode.

These changes are in effect until April 6, 2020.


I’m wondering how Natasha Furman is studying in the Academy? I saw the posts on Instagram that she danced little Maria in the Nutcracker and it seems that teachers like her very much.

Have you seen clips of Natalie furman in the last nutcracker? Heard that she’s a promising young student, but she was prominent in the US/competitive ballet circuit so I wonder how she fairs at VBA

Natasha is, obviously, very young, and it’s too early to make any assessments or predictions. For now, she’s at VBA and she appears to be doing very well and enjoying herself. You can also follow her on YouTube for some extra videos from the Academy.

More on the weight topic. I saw in a video that one girl in Sharova’s 4th class was dismissed because of weight. Yet, there are a lot of girls in the upper classes, especially year 7 and 8, that don’t exactly have the slimmest bodies. However, Vaganova allows them to stay. Why is this?

Some of the older girls experience weight gain due to puberty, which tends to hit around the time of their final year. As this is a natural process, and not something the girls can control, the Academy tends to be more lenient, especially since the weight gained due to the onset of puberty tends to go away with time.

Thanks for posting the Bunkamura VBA video! I’m really excited about Anastasia Smirnova. Physically, she reminds me so much of Zakharova, with some Lopatkina tones as well. Of course, she will have her own dancing style. But she has a regal, mature quality to her that brings a lot of refinement to her dancing. She has a lot of potential and I’m excited to see it develop, I hope at Mariinsky as she’s perfect for that theater!

A lot of people think that she looks like Zakharova, and that’s a huge compliment. I’ve been watching Anastasia since she won the Diana Vishneva award at Vaganova Prix a few years back, and I hope she goes on to have an amazing career. She studies under Professor Kovaleva (who graduated Diana Vishneva and Olga Smirnova, among others), which is also very exciting.

Are the Vaganova teachers friendly toward one another, or are they competitive. For example, do you think that in 2015, Kovaleva was unhappy that Udalenkova’s student Shakirova was portrayed as the star of the class rather than her Nika or Anastasia Lukina? Is there a hierarchy of teachers, like the older ones get to make demands of the younger teachers like Kasenkova or Sitnikova?

Naturally, there’s a hierarchy of teachers at VBA. It’s impossible to say, as an outsider, but I imagine that there would be some healthy competition among the teachers. That being said, I don’t think senior professors like Udalenkova and Kovaleva would fight over their students. I also don’t think that Shakirova was necessarily presented as her year’s star. I remember the attention being pretty evenly spread between her and Lukina. 


What is behind the two doors at the back of the main Vaganova studio? One big room? Or two separate rooms? Or two connected rooms so that students can come out of one door and go in through the other? Or something else?

You can see the space in this video:

Why does Tsiskaridze not like Khoreva as much as Elya? Elya’s just as good, but doesn’t he see that Khoreva is a once in a generation talent? He only allowed her to debut as Masha in Nutcracker after Elya graduated, whereas he allowed Lizi and Anastasia to debut as Masha while Alexandra Khiteeva was still dancing it at Vaganova. And, in her graduating year, it was the 280th anniversary of the school, but he could’ve still let Maria dance Paquita instead of calling Elya back. She’d had her shot.

  1. I don’t think it’s fair to say that Tsiskaridze disliked Khoreva. Masha was Professor Kovaleva’s student, and Kovaleva is particular about how her students are represented publicly. Tsiskaridze was very vocal about how great Elya was (which she really was) and it did her no favours; he overexposed her.
  2. A student’s debut in a particular role is not determined by the rector alone. The student’s teacher has a lot of say in this. Plus, the student in question must typically audition to get the part.
  3. Elya was called back for a special performance, which brought together past VBA graduates, including Zakharova, Obraztsova and Smirnova; it wan’t a normal graduation performance.

What is happening with the Vladivostok school?

The short answer is: no one knows. No one on the outside, that is. The Vladivostok campus was handed over to BBA a few years ago and, curiously, Leonova’s interviews at the time suggested that the campus had always belonged to the Moscow academy. It’s been suggested that Tsiskaridze was forced to take on the Vladivostok campus, and had never really wanted it because it was a drain on VBA’s resources. Regardless of this, he had set the campus up and ran it successfully for over a year. It’s all rather bizarre. 

An interesting video of a masterclass with Tsiskaridze has just been uploaded to YouTube by Anya V. Do you have any more info about this class?

Tsiskaridze taught a master class for the 4th grade girls at VBA a few days ago. I believe that the class was part of the many conferences / educational events the Academy runs, and was open to the public (by “public” I mean ballet insiders, teachers and dancers). Thank you for the link, by the way. I have this recording in bits but not as a whole.

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