Vaganova Today:
The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition

Catherine E. Pawlick

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"An extensive and thorough compilation of numerous sources with unique insights on Vaganova and her methodology. The author has had access to several important figures in Russian ballet who knew Vaganova and/or her students. Confronting the dilemmas facing the art of classical ballet, Vaganova Today is a thought-provoking read."--John White, author of Advanced Principles in Teaching Classical Ballet

Agrippina Vaganova (1879-1951) is revered as the visionary who first codified the Russian system of classical ballet training. The Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, founded on impeccable technique and centuries of tradition, has a reputation for elite standards, and its graduates include Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, Natalia Makarova, and Diana Vishneva. Yet the "Vaganova method" has come under criticism in recent years.
In this absorbing volume, Catherine Pawlick traces Vaganova's story from her early years as a ballet student in tsarist Russia to her career as a dancer with the Mariinsky (Kirov) Ballet to her work as a pedagogue and choreographer. Pawlick then goes beyond biography to address Vaganova's legacy today, offering the first-ever English translations of primary source materials and intriguing interviews with pedagogues and dancers from the Academy and the Mariinsky Ballet, including some who studied with Vaganova herself.

Catherine E. Pawlick danced with ballet companies in the United States before moving to St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lived for six years, observing classes at the Vaganova Academy and rehearsals and performances at the Mariinsky Theatre. Fluent in French and Russian, she has written on dance for the San Francisco Chronicle, Ballet Review, and Dance Europe.

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"There can't be a professional ballet school in the west that hasn't heard of, toyed with, admired or tried to copy at least some aspects of Agrippina Vaganova's method of teaching. One only has to look and remember the constant stream of truly great dancers that have emerged from her system over the last 70 or so years, to want to know how these wonderful beings were trained. Pawlick's book leaves us wondering if there could ever again be a figure like Vaganova, so centered on a particular style, and so instrumental in its codification and development. And that might be very much to ballet's loss." Dancing Times

"A riveting read, which attempts to reveal the secrets of the Vaganova system. Anyone intrigued by the greatness of Russian ballet, and the Maryinsky in particular, will absorb this book from a behind-the-curtain view. It's a tribute to the revered legend of Agrippina Vaganova, a visionary who redefined dance, both in Russia and the world." Dance International

"Shows the Academy from the other end of the barre for the first time." ... "No other book gives a reader the opportunity to see the world of Russian ballet from the perspective of those who create it each day through teaching and coaching dancers for the stage." The Russian Review

"Pawlick introdduces us to the woman whose teaching methods and influences have held Biblical importance in the ballet world for many decades" Haglund's Heel (Blog)

"… offers readers a rare opportunity to hear the voices of experienced teachers and coaches speaking honestly about the teaching methods and artistic philosophies behind the superb dancers emerging from the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in St Petersburg." "It also provides readers with new insights into standards and best practices in ballet training, as well as important philosophical and aesthetic issues besetting the world of professional ballet in the twenty-first century" "At the heart of the book is a timely philosophical question about the nature of ballet and its popularity: What is the relation between technique and artistry in the genre of classical ballet, and how can one foster the other?" Dance Chronicle

"Traces Agrippina Vaganova’s story from her student years in tsarit Russia to her career with the Mariinsky to her work as a teacher and choreographer." Dance Studio Life

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