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Vaganova Ballet

Vaganova Method of Ballet Training


The Vaganova method is one of the main training techniques of classical ballet. The Vaganova method was derived from the teaching methods of instructors of the Imperial Ballet School of Soviet Russia.

Characteristics of Vaganova

The Vaganova method of classical ballet encourages dancing with the entire body. Dancers trained by the Vaganova method will likely have high jumps and powerful turns, aided by the use of the arms. Many movements of the Vaganova technique require dancers to remain in the air for as long as possible to give them an illusion of floating through the air, which requires great flexibility and extension.

The Vaganova technique encourages dancers to move their arms, legs and torso together in perfect harmony. A strong torso is a necessity for the Vaganova method, as the torso forms the foundation of all movements.

Unlike other methods of ballet, the Vaganova method encourages obvious hand movements. The hands should not flow gradually from one movement to the next, but should "flap" into place at the last moment. The hands should be held distinctly, with the thumb held close to the middle finger and the pointer and ring finger slightly raised.

The Vaganova method is evident in the technique of Mikhail Baryshnikov, one of the greatest ballet dancers of the 20th century. Baryshnikov is well-known for his extremely high, practically effortless leaps into the air.

Agrippina Vaganova

The Vaganova ballet method was developed by Agrippina Vaganova, a graduate of the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet School. After leaving the stage, Vaganova began teaching and developing the instructional system that would become known as the Vaganova method. Vaganova's "Basic Principles of Classical Ballet" was published in 1934.

As a teacher, Vaganova encouraged her ballet students to learn how to correct their own mistakes and learn from their faults. During her lessons, she would take time to explain each exercise, describing the correct form as well as the purpose of the exercise. Her students were often expected to independently create new combinations with the steps they had learned during their classes.


Grant, Gail. Technical Manual and Dictionary of Classical Ballet, Third Edition. Dover Publications, 1982.

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