Is It Time To Completely Rethink Ballet?




Before she became the 20th century's most revered ballet pedagogue, Agrippina Vaganova was a frustrated ballerina. "I was not progressing and that was a terrible thing to realize," she wrote in a rough draft of her memoirs.


She retired from the Imperial Ballet stage in 1916, and for the next 30-plus years, devoted herself to creating a "science of ballet." Her new, dynamic teaching method produced stars like Rudolf Nureyev, Alla Osipenko, and Galina Ulanova and later Natalia Makarova and Mikhail Baryshnikov. And her approach continues to influence how we think about ballet training to this day.


But is the ballet class due for an update? Demands and aesthetics have changed. So should the way dancers train change too?

Since ballet began more than 400 years ago, there has always been the question of how to train dancers for the job's unique mix of physical, theatrical and musical skills. Each generation has learned from the one before it, adding bits here and cutting bits there.


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