#TBT: Evgenia Obraztsova in Cinderella (2002)

At the Vaganova Ballet Academy, being chosen to dance a leading role in the final graduation performance is no small honor. One of the top ballet programs in the world, the Academy was founded in 1738 and has since trained countless stars, including Anna Pavlova, George Balanchine, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Diana Vishneva (just to name a few). The technique taught at the school was created by one of its most influential teachers, Agrippina Vaganova, and her resulting curriculum is both intense and competitive.

 

#TBT: Alina Somova at the Vaganova Academy in 1999

The Vaganova Academy has been a powerhouse for supreme technicians and artists for centuries. Iconic names—Balanchine, Nureyev, and Zakharova, to name a few—have sprung from the St. Petersburg school. Vaganova training transforms students to master the most difficult aspects of ballet technique, allowing room to grow into the utmost performers.

#TBT Video: Svetlana Zakharova as a Student

These days, we know Svetlana Zakharova as an international ballet superstar. As a young student at St. Petersburg’s prestigious Vaganova Academy, however, she was…well, still a superstar, just on a slightly smaller scale. Here are some excerpts from her graduation exam in 1996. You’ll probably pick her out right away, but just in case: She’s on the left in the first clip. Happy #ThrowbackThursday!