September 27, 2022


Art and Entertainment

Book Review: On the Life and Legacy of Agrippina Vaganova

The art of ballet relies upon on teachers conferring really hard-acquired, painstakingly in depth expertise from student to scholar, throughout generations. As with other artforms, achieving the pinnacle of performance does not always translate to an means to train.

No ponder, then, that the College Press of Florida has just lately reissued Catherine E. Pawlick’s Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Custom, an exhaustive analyze of Agrippina Yakovlevna Vaganova (1879–1951) first published in 2011. The ebook is the two a biography of the fantastic instructor and a review of how her educating has been continued forward. Via a confluence of personalized push and historical moment, Vaganova devoted her everyday living to ballet pedagogy, codifying and major what became the Russian university of ballet.

Courtesy College Push of Florida

Whilst conducting study for this e-book, Pawlick, who danced in both of those California and Washington, DC, for in excess of 20 several years before getting a ballet critic, immersed herself in the subject matter, living in St. Petersburg from 2004 to 2010. Pawlick delivers generations of dancers to the site and, impressively, also did the translations from Russian that show up in the book.

Vaganova arrived from a weak household and entered the Imperial Ballet College at age 10. She skilled with a succession of instructors, quite a few of whom remaining her frustrated by their absence of investigation she required to know the why and how of what she was staying taught. She also desired rigor in her training. There had been, however, standouts. She was encouraged by Ekaterina Vazem, whom she known as “strict and demanding”: “No issue how large the course was, she usually saw anyone no one slipped from her check out,” Vaganova wrote. Amongst graduation and joining the Mariinsky Theater in 1897, she examined with Italian grasp Enrico Cecchetti and was captivated by the “bravura method of the Italian college.” Olga Osipovna Preobrajenska, Pawlick writes, “helped cultivate Vaganova’s curiosity concerning the most effective technique to measures and kind.…Vaganova began to imagine about how to judiciously explain the movement, power the whole system to operate, subdue all of the muscle mass into doing work.”

In a gradual rise, Vaganova moved up the ranks to dance the function of Giselle in 1915 and, in 1916, retired from overall performance at age36. She devoted the relaxation of her daily life to educating.

To oversimplify, Vaganova arrived of age when there have been two most important schools of ballet—Italian and French—and, to a considerably lesser extent, Danish. On the cusp of the Russian Revolution, Vaganova aimed to synthesize what she admired about these traditions into a especially Russian university of ballet. Pawlick writes:

“Her method…incorporated, for the initial time, the plan that the overall human body should be concerned in the movement, and that port de bras and the fundamentals of procedure would help in the in general coordination of ways and jumps.”

She turned out to be providentially aligned with the politics of the second. Versus innovative fervor to dispense with ballet as an “Imperialist” legacy, Vaganova synthesized many strands of ballet pedagogy to create a Russian school that was forward-on the lookout. She thus not only produced a contemporary strategy of training, she saved Russian ballet. While George Balanchine, Alexandra Danilova and other Mariinsky-educated dancers fled west, Vaganova stayed and set about codifying her method, finally publishing Basic Rules of Classical Ballet in 1934.

Vaganova emphasised precision and self-discipline and concentrated intently on the person dancers in her studio. The listing of those people she qualified contain Marina Semyonova, Galina Ulanova, Natalia Dudinskaya and lots of others. Given Vaganova’s scope and impact, the terms of just one of her remaining pupils, Galina Petrovna Kekisheva, ring genuine: “Vaganova had a quite solid character…She could get individuals to consider in her, and get them to do items.”

In this black and white archival photo, a female ballet student stands with her left leg on the barre in front of her and her left arm raised as her teacher, Agrippina Vaganova, stands close to the barre on her right side and adjusts her leg. CLassmates stand around the dancer, and they are all dressed in white dresses, pink tights and pointe shoes. Vaganova wears a long, dark, polka-dotted dress.
Vaganova with her learners in the studios of the Choreographic Institute, afterwards renamed the Vaganova Academy in her honor. Photo courtesy Mariinsky Theatre archives.

Pawlick’s freshly reissued guide gives a welcome respite from the horrors of Russian aggression in Ukraine, reminding us of Russia’s myriad cultural contributions. Though the private anecdotes and pictures all through the quantity are spellbinding, the book will possible be of extra interest to dance instructors and performers than to the ballet-looking at community. Legions of ballet teachers all-around the world, committed to producing dancers to thrust their actual physical capacities while also proclaiming their spot as artists, will have a lot to master from Vaganova Today.