Agrippina Vaganova

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Vaganova, Agrippina Iakovlevna


Born June 24 (July 6), 1879, in St. Petersburg; died Nov. 5, 1951, in Leningrad. Soviet ballerina, choreographer, and teacher. People’s Artist of the RSFSR (1934).

In 1897, Vaganova graduated from the St. Petersburg Theatrical School, where she studied with L. I. Ivanov, E. O. Vazem, and P. A. Gerdt. From 1897 to 1916 she danced at the Mariinskii Theater in St. Petersburg, becoming famous as a virtuoso of classical dance. Her best roles included Odette-Odile in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake and the Tsar-maiden in Pugni’s The Little Humpbacked Horse. She began teaching in 1917 after leaving the stage. In 1921 she became a teacher at the Leningrad Choreographic School, where she became a professor in 1946. From 1931 to 1937, Vaganova was artistic director of the ballet of the S. M. Kirov Leningrad Opera and Ballet Theater, where she staged the ballets Swan Lake (1933) and Pugni’s La Esmeralda (1935). Vaganova’s work as a choreographer was marked by a search for new means of expression in the classical dance, which became an excellent model for performing—dancing as well as acting. From 1946 to 1951 she headed the subdepartment of choreography at the N. A. Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatory in Leningrad. She expounded her teaching methods in the book Fundamentals of the Classical Dance (1934; reprinted four times). The essence of her method consists in the demand for the comprehension and aesthetic expressiveness of dance movements and for the free use of technique based on the correct placing of the body and arms. Vaganova’s teaching methods are widespread in Soviet choreographic teaching practice and exert considerable influence on ballet abroad. Vaganova’s students included G. S. Ulanova, M. T. Semenova, O. G. Iordan, N. A. Anisimova, T. M. Vecheslova, N. N. Dudinskaia, and A. la. Shelest. She was awarded the State Prize of the USSR in 1946, the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and various medals.


Bogdanov-Berezovskii, V. M. A. Ia. Vaganova. Moscow-Leningrad, 1950.
A. Ia. Vaganova. Stat’i. Vospominaniia. Materialy. Moscow-Leningrad, 1958. [Collection.]
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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