The Vaganova method is a ballet technique and training system devised by the Russian dancer and pedagogue Agrippina Vaganova (1879-1951). Fusing elements of traditional French technique from the romantic era, with the athleticism and virtuosity of the Italian school,the method is designed to work the body as a whole, with total involvement of the body in every movement, and equal attention paid to the upper body as well as the legs and feet.
Vaganova believed that this approach increases consciousness of the body, thus creating a harmony of movement and greater expressive range. The training regime for the Vaganova method is complex and rigorously planned, to produce a clean, virtuoso technique. Due to its strictly codified training system, the Vaganova method is widely considered to be injury-free, if taught correctly.
Soviet dancer, teacher and ballet director. She trained at the Imperial Theatre School in St Petersburg, a student of Vazem, Pavel, Ivanov, Gerdt and Nikolai Legat and later studied with Preobrajenska. She graduated in 1897 and joined the Maryinsky Theatre, but the considerable technique she possessed she wasn’t promoted to ballerina status until 1915 and it certainly didn’t help her career that she was dancing the same time as some of the greatest dancers in history, Pavlova, Karsavina, Kschessinska and Preobrajenska, lacking their influence in high places although described by one critic as ‘the queen of variations’. Vaganova achieved fame as one of the most important teachers in ballet history, teaching students like Ulanova, Volkova, Dudinskaya and Kolpakova.
A woman of great analytical ability, she developed her own teaching system which carries her name. It is now used as the basis of training in both Russia and the West. It took elements from the French school, athletic Italian school and the dramatic, soulfulness of the Russian character. From 1917-1951 she taught at the Kirov and was artistic director from 1931-1937. She encouraged the first productions of ‘Flames of Paris’, ‘Fountain of Bakhchisarai’ and herself staged new productions of ‘Swan Lake’. In 1957 the St Petersburg Ballet School was renamed the Vaganova Institute in her honor.