4 Main Ballet Schools in Russia

4 Main Ballet Schools in Russia

Studying ballet and studying to be a ballet dancer are not the same thing. A professional career will require unchildish awareness and dedication from a child, and you often have to choose this path when you are 9-11 years old, as it is at this age that children are admitted to ballet schools. Choosing an educational institution is a serious step - it is important to learn the profession from the best.

In Russia, there are four ballet schools that have an official federal status, they are located in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Perm and Novosibirsk. It is their graduates who are more likely to get a job in the country's leading ballet companies.

What do these schools have in common?

The requirements of schools and academies for age, skills, health and physique are brought to a single standard. From 7 years old children are admitted to the preparatory course; when they complete the elementary school course (from 9-11 years old), they are enrolled in the 1st grade.  At the age of 11-15, students of other choreographic educational institutions can transfer to grades 1-5 if the commission considers them sufficiently gifted and prepared. 

It will take 7 years and 10 months to study. The curriculum includes not only specialized but also general education subjects. Upon graduation, the students receive a diploma of secondary vocational education in the specialty "Ballet Dancer" or "The Art of Ballet". Students from other cities live in the school dormitory with full board. And it is these four schools that foreigners come to enter.

The Moscow State Academy of Choreography

The oldest theater school in Moscow was established by decree of Catherine II in 1763 as the Moscow Orphanage, where dancing was taught. 11 years later, the Petrovsky (now Bolshoi) Theater took charge of the choreographic training of the students.

You can get higher education at the Academy. For example, the principal dancer Denis Rodkin was taken into the Bolshoi Theater company after graduating from the choreographic school at the Gzhel dance theater, and later graduated from the pedagogical faculty at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography.

The Academy has been producing ballet stars for almost two and a half centuries now. There are over a hundred names on the list, including Maya Plisetskaya, Ekaterina Maximova and Natalia Bessmertnova. Among the current prima ballerinas of the Bolshoi Theater, Ekaterina Krysanova, Ekaterina Shipulina, Anna Nikulina and Anastasia Stashkevich studied at the Moscow State Academy of Choreography; as for the troupe's lead dancers, its graduates are Artemy Belyakov, Vyacheslav Lopatin, Denis Savin, Vladislav Lantratov, Artem Ovcharenko.

The major Moscow ballet school has branches in Kaliningrad, Kemerovo and Vladivostok.

The Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet   

The famous Vaganova Academy was founded in 1738 and is one of the oldest ballet schools in the world. The first Russian ballerinas studied at the Academy, that was the Imperial Ballet School back then. Agrippina Vaganova, a ballet teacher and founder of the theory of Russian classical ballet, studied there herself at the end of the 19th century, not suspecting that 60 years later the school would bear her name.

Just like the Moscow State Academy of Choreography, the Vaganova Academy offers bachelor's, master's and postgraduate studies. However, to work in a theater company, secondary vocational education will be enough.

Today, the endless list of its outstanding graduates includes Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, Galina Ulanova, Yuri Grigorovich, Rudolf Nureyev, Ulyana Lopatkina. Prima ballerinas of the Bolshoi Theater Svetlana Zakharova, Evgenia Obraztsova, Yulia Stepanova, Olga Smirnova and principal dancer Mikhail Lobukhin graduated from Vaganova Academy.

In 2013, the Academy was headed by the former principal dancer Nikolai Tsiskaridze. The new rector opened a branch of the famous St. Petersburg ballet school in Vladivostok.

Perm State Choreographic School 

Today, Perm might not have such a strong ballet school, if in 1941 the Leningrad Academic Opera and Ballet Theater named after S.M.  Kirov (now the Mariinsky Theater) had not been evacuated to the city. Together with the theater, the Leningrad (Vaganova) Ballet School came, and in 1942 they announced the enrollment of children in the 1st grade. In 1944, after the blockade of Leningrad was lifted, the teachers returned home, and the Perm children were left without classes. Then a ballet studio was created at the Molotov Opera and Ballet Theater, which in 1945 was reorganized into a choreographic school.

The acting prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater Ekaterina Shipulina, as well as the prima ballerinas of the Kremlin Ballet company Natalia Balakhnicheva, Ekaterina Pervushina and the principal dancer Egor Motuzov studied at the Perm school for five years.

Novosibirsk State Choreographic School

The youngest ballet school among the four giants was established in 1956 to train personnel for the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater. Since then, the choreographic school has grown and developed, and today the complex of the school buildings occupies over 11,000 square meters and includes modern classrooms and auditoriums, a gym, comfortable dorm rooms and a large territory with a beautiful landscape design, which pleases all Novosibirsk residents in summer.

The principal dancer of the Bolshoi Theater Semyon Chudin, the prima ballerina of the Kremlin Ballet Alexandra Krisa and the prima ballerina of the Netherlands National Ballet Anna Tsygankova graduated from this school.