#TBT: Yulia Makhalina in Paquita (1991)

The lead female Paquita variation has a little bit of everything: It showcases the ballerina’s delicate footwork, graceful port de bras and her jumping and turning abilities. In this clip filmed in 1991, Mariinsky Ballet principal Yulia Makhalina has it all. She exhibits crisp entrechats six, clean (and many!) turns and polished hops on pointe.More »

#TBT Natalia Makarova in Les Sylphides (1965)

Pop quiz: which ballet looks just like Giselle, La Bayadère’s Kingdom of Shades and La Sylphide’s forest scene, but has little in common with any of them? Hint: it’s often confused with the last ballet on that list. Les Sylphides, originally named Chopiniana, may look like the story ballets that preceded it, but don’t beMore »

#TBT: Rudolf Nureyev and Alla Sizova’s Corsaire Graduation Performance

Can you imagine completing your spring showcase performance and being handed a soloist contract by your dream company? That is precisely what happened to Rudolf Nureyev and Alla Sizova in 1958, and this clip is from that very performance. The opening section of Le Corsaire’s famous pas de deux displays Sizova’s beautiful lines and Nureyev’sMore »

Keenan Kampa On High Strung—and Why She Left the Mariinsky

In 2012, Keenan Kampa made history as the first American to join Russia’s Mariinsky Ballet. While technically a coryphée, she danced both soloist and principal roles. But in 2014, the Vaganova Academy graduate made a bold move—she quit the company to pursue an acting career. Her new movie, High Strung, opens in theaters April 8.More »

#TBT: Diana Vishneva in Carmen

When she won gold at the Prix de Lausanne in 1994, Diana Vishneva was merely 17 years old. However, it’s clear that she was on the dawn of superstardom. Twenty years have brought Vishneva’s dancing an artistic depth and maturity that contrasts the almost hyper, youthful energy she exhibits in this 1994 clip of CarmenMore »

Breaking Borders

Russia is often perceived as a closed book from abroad, and ballet is no exception. Though David Hallberg joined the Bolshoi Ballet in 2011, the country’s top companies have been slow to open their ranks to non-Russians. Under acting director Yuri Fateyev, however, the venerable Mariinsky Ballet has welcomed a handful of dancers trained abroad.More »

#TBT: Irina Kolpakova in Le Papillon (1983)

In English, Le Papillon translates to “the butterfly.” Airy, elegant and frolicsome, Russian ballerina Irina Kolpakova effectively evokes the winged creature in this 1983 clip. Marie Taglioni originally choreographed Le Papillon in 1860 for her protégé Emma Livry; over a century later, French choreographer Pierre Lacotte created his own version for 20th century ballerinas. He made brilliant use of small choreographic details to characterize the butterfly and her human prince, here danced by Mariinsky Ballet (then Kirov) alum Sergei Berezhnoi.

#TBT: Ulyana Lopatkina Dances Act II Variation from “Raymonda” (1993)

From the audience’s perspective, dancers can appear to be six feet tall. It’s a beautiful illusion, but most often not the case. Being a tall dancer can be difficult; while long limbs are a blessing, they are often hard to manage. But as this video proves, the gorgeously tall Ulyana Lopatkina, who stands at 5’ 9”, commands impeccable control.

 

Reverence: Star of St. Petersburg

You started out in gymnastics—did it have an effect on your dancing?It helps immensely. My father was a gymnastics coach, and I think that if my daughter wanted to become a dancer, I would send her to gymnastics classes first, and only after that to ballet. Gymnastics builds character and coordination. It gives you aMore »