Russian ballet refers to ballet dancing that originated in Russia and is one of the most popular forms of classical ballet. Russian ballet schools can be found throughout the world, often with training beginning at the age of three.
Vaganova Method of Russian Ballet
Although several methods exist for teaching Russian ballet, most students training in Russian ballet schools focus on the Vaganova method. The Vaganova method was developed by Agrippina Vaganova, and encourages dancing and expressing with the entire body.
Russian ballet dancing is exciting to watch, as dancers are trained to have high jumps and fast, powerful turns. Russian ballet dancers often strive to create the illusion of floating in mid-air.
Dancers trained using the Vaganova method often develop incredible flexibility and extension.
Russian Ballet Schools
The first school of Russian ballet, the Imperial Theatre School, was founded by Empress Anna in 1738. The school was located in St. Petersburg, Russia. The school’s chief choreographer, Marius Petipa, is regarded as the “father of classical ballet.” Petipa produced numerous ballets that helped to build the foundation of Russian ballet. In 1957, the Imperial Theatre School was renamed the Vaganova Academy.
Russian Ballet Companies
The first Russian ballet company, the Imperial School of Ballet, was developed in St. Petersburg in the 1740s. The Ballet Russes, directed by Sergei Diaghilev, played a major role in the establishment of Russian ballet. Founded in 1909, Ballet Russes was one of the great ballet companies of the 20th century.
Today, audiences around the world have the opportunity to enjoy professional Russian ballet dancing close to home. The Bolshoi Ballet and the Mariinsky Ballet (formerly the Kirov Ballet) are renowned Russian ballet companies that tour the world, including the United States.
Famous Russian Ballet Dancers
Several Russian ballet dancers have had tremendous impact on classical ballet, including the following: