There is no need to dispute about naming St. Petersburg Capital of Ballet. Have a look at a classical and elegant architecture of the city, which so tuned to classical choreography! You won’t have any doubt that St.Petersburg is a leader of world classical ballet.

About Ballet History

The first ballet performance in Russia took place on February 8, 1673. The national identity of Russian ballet started to form at the beginning of the 19th century due to French choreographer Charles-Louis Didlo. Charles Louis Didlo was born in Stockholm in a family of French dancers who worked at the Swedish Royal Opera House. There were no complex technical movements, no pointe shoes at that time. The main goal in a court ballet was the ability to fix a pose for a long time.

In 1738, by order of Empress Anna Ioannovna, the St. Petersburg Ballet School “Dance School of Her Imperial Majesty School” was opened, nowadays the world famous – the St. Petersburg Academy of Dance named after A. Ya. Vaganova. Jean-Baptiste Lande was a founder and a leader of this school.

He started to train 12 Russian boys and girls in a specially equipped rooms of the Winter Palace.

On August 30, 1756, Empress Elizaveta Petrovna established the Directorate of the Imperial Theatres, emphasizing the importance of theatre arts in Russia.

The imperial ballet troupe played a very important role in the development of Russian ballet. At that time both troupes from St. Petersburg and Moscow started to work for public, for people who came to the theatres. From that moment the ballet performed not only for imperial family, but became public.

Ballet became a special art. It was obligatory to visit ballet performances for aristocrats and other upper classes.

In 1837, Maria Taglioni arrived in St. Petersburg – the famous ballerina of the 19th century, the representative of the third-generation Italian Taglioni ballet dynasty, one of the central figures of the ballet of the Romantic era. It was Maria Taglioni who introduced the “ballet tutu” into the ballet and for the first time demonstrated the dance on “pointe shoes”.

Marius Petipa

Marius Petipa – is a Frenchman who devoted his life to Russian ballet. His name is connected with Russian ballet history for many centuries and started to be basis for further ballet dance development.

In 1847 Petipa arrived to St. Petersburg by the invitation of the Russian authorities. His debut took place on the stage of the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Theatre. He worked in Russia – first as a ballet principal dancer and a teacher, and since 1862 – as a choreographer. From 1869 to 1903 he was a chief choreographer. In 1894 he received Russian citizenship.

Petipa has staged more than 60 ballet performances for 50 years of work in Russia. Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Nutcracker and Raymond, La Sylphide, Cinderella, Midsummer Night’s Dream, Corsair, Don Quixote, La Bayadere, Pharaoh’s Daughter , “Paquita”, “Giselle”, “Coppelia”, “Vain precaution”, “Order of the king”, “Venice Carnival”, “Esmeralda”, “Awakening of Flora” – all these performances and many other have a long life at theatres of Russia and all over the world. These performances are considered as a glory and the highest level of world ballet art.

Agrippina Vaganova

Agrippina Vaganova is a founder of Russian classical ballet theory, which became the basis for the ballet dancers trainings all over the world.

She was born in St. Petersburg and in 1888 was admitted to the Imperial Theatre School.

Since 1897 she was dancing at Mariinsky Ballet Theatre. After she left the stage in 1916, she started teaching. She developed her own pedagogical system and technology based on rigor setting of the body, arms and legs positions. The “Vaganova System” played a decisive role in the development of world ballet art of the 20th century.

Among the students of Agrippina Vaganova there were great Russian ballerinas, such as, Marina Semenova, Galina Ulanova and Tatyana Vecheslova, Tatyana Shmyrova, Fairy Balabina and Natalya Dudinskaya, Alla Shelest, Nonna Yastrebova and Buyusar Beishenalieva, Ninel Petrova, Olga Moiseevaenova Lyubla, Lyudla Irina Kolpakova and many other outstanding ballerinas of the XX century.

From 1931 to 1937, Vaganova was the art director of the ballet troupe of Leningradsky Opera and Ballet Theatre named after S. M. Kirov (now the Mariinsky Theater).

A.Ya. Vaganova Russian Ballet Academy

Worldwide recognition of the Russian ballet school is closely linked to one of the oldest ballet schools in the world. The school is located in the center of St. Petersburg on the street of Architect Rossi.

Ballet, perhaps more than any other kind of art, depends on quality of training school. It is difficult to overestimate the role and importance of the Vaganovo Academy in the development of Russian, Soviet and world choreography.

Anna Pavlova and Mikhail Fokin, Tamara Karsavina and Vaclav Nizhinsky, Marina Semenova and Vakhtang Chabukiani, Galina Ulanova and Konstantin Sergeyev graduated from this school. Due to magnificent artists from this school a perfection of the “Sleeping Beauty” became possible, as well as “Swan Lake”, “Chopenians.” Glorious the Mariinsky Theater ballet troupe is fostered in this educational institution. The school has always been and remains a source of new talented ballet dancers.

Other famous graduates of the Vaganova Academy:

Matilda Kshesinskaya, Yuri Grigorovich, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Anna Pavlova, Leonid Yakobson, Natalya Dudinskaya, Natalya Makarova, Ninel Kurgapkina, Diana Vishneva, Ulyana Lopatkina, Farukh Ruzimatov, Yulia Makhalina, Svetlana Akhaytarava, Alana Zhannaova, Tatyana Alana – choreographers who make up the glory of world ballet art.

St. Petersburg is the city of ballet theatres: the world the Mariinsky and Mikhailovsky Theatres, Leonid Yakobson Ballet Theatre, Boris Eifman Academy of Choreography, there are more than 30 troupes performing classical and modern choreography.

Mariinsky Theatre

Mariinsky Theatre is one of the greatest ballet and opera houses in Russia and in the world. Over more than 2 centuries of its history, it has become a symbol of Russian culture in the world. The theatre complex includes the main building itself on Theatre Square (Historical Stage), a concert hall (since 2006), a second stage on the Kryukov Canal (since 2013).

Marrinsky was founded in 1783 by order of Empress Catherine the Great, it was located in a building that was later rebuilt as the St. Petersburg Conservatory. It was part of the Imperial Theatres of Russia.

The greatest composers M.I. Glinka, P.I. Tchaikovsky, M.P. Mussorgsky, N.A. Rimsky-Korsakov, Marius Petipa’s created their masterpieces for this theatre, classical ballet was born here – the visiting card of Russian ballet.

Nowadays the Mariinsky Theater is a technically advanced theatre complex that includes seven scenic venues in St. Petersburg: the Historical Stage, the New Stage and four chamber halls (Prokofiev, Foyer Stravinsky, Schedrin and Musorgsky Halls), the acoustically perfect Concert Hall, and the Primorsky Stage Mariinsky Theatre in Vladivostok.

Preserving traditions and a great heritage, the theatre under the leadership of Valery Gergiev is striving for the future, creating innovative productions, working with the best world directors, inviting leading musicians and artists of opera and ballet, actively expanding the field of cultural and educational activities.

The ballet of the Mariinsky Theater is a symbol of classical world art, the opera and the orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre are famous all over the world.

The theatre participates in many world festivals and holds its own: the International Stars of the White Nights Art Festival, the Mariinsky Ballet Festival, the Moscow Easter Festival, the New Horizons contemporary music festival, and the Mariinsky Brass Evenings festival.

Mikhailovsky Theater

Mikhailovsky is one of the most important Opera and Ballet Theatre theatres of Russia and quite famous in the world. It was opened in 1833 and located in the historic center of St. Petersburg, in a very beautiful historic building on Arts Square.

The Imperial Mikhailovsky Theatre was created in 1833 by decree of Emperor Nicholai I.

The theatre owes its name to Grand Duke Mikhail, the youngest son of Paul I: the Mikhailovsky Palace was his residence.

The theatre building was designed by the great architect A.P. Bryullov with the participation of A.M. Gornostaev. The architects managed to fit the facade into the ensemble of the square created by C. Rossi.

Such celebrities as Johann Strauss, Lucien Guitry, Matilda Kshesinskaya, Fedor Chaliapin, and Sarah Bernhardt were performed at this theatre. A. S. Pushkin, V. A. Zhukovsky, L. N. Tolstoy, P. I. Tchaikovsky were visiting performances quite often.

Nowadays the theatre seeks to keep abreast of the contemporary world theatre process and at the same time adheres to classics.

The ballet performances of the theatre received many prestigious awards in the world. The troupe toured a lot in Europe, North America and Asia with constant success.

Ballet Theatre named after Leonid Jacobson

The St. Petersburg State Academic Ballet Theatre named after Leonid Jacobson is a unique art collective. The theatre is proud of its 50-year history the name of its founder, the outstanding Russian choreographer of the 20th century Leonid Veniaminovich Jacobson (1904–1975).
The theatre employs graduates from the best choreographic schools and experienced teachers, united by the desire to preserve the masterpieces of the past and create new ones. The theatre troupe makes a lot of concert tours. The theatre is famous by its decorations and costumes created by contemporary Russian designers. The troupe has prestigious awards: St. Petersburg Golden Theatre, Golden Mask – Russian National Theatre Award, and the prestigious Taglioni European Ballet Award.

Ballet of Boris Eifman

The St. Petersburg State Academic Ballet Theatre was created by Boris Eifman in 1977 (the original name of the troupe was the Leningrad New Ballet). The concept of the team was quite bold: it was created as an author’s, director’s theatre, an experimental laboratory of one choreographer.

The very first performances of the troupe – “Two Voice” and “Boomerang” – brought the theatre success and made critics talk about new trends in Russian ballet art.

Today the Theatre is known to dance lovers in North and South America, Europe, Asia, Australia for its performances “I am Don Quixote”, “Red Giselle”, “Russian Hamlet”, “Anna Karenina”, “The Seagull”, and “Eugene Onegin ”,“ Rodin ”,“ On the Other Side of Sin ”,“ Requiem ”,“ Up & Down ”,“ Tchaikovsky. PRO et CONTRA. “

Theatre performances are regularly held in St. Petersburg and have the incredible love of the audience.

St. Petersburg is a city permeated with ballet and dance creativity. Dozens of ballet and dance festivals are held in the city; famous ballerinas, choreographers and composers live here, create.

St. Petersburg is a city tightly linked with the history of the formation and prosperity of Russian ballet, it keeps many fascinating stories and secrets of the famous creators and artists of Russian ballet, inextricably linked with the history of St. Petersburg and Russia. Walking through the city you may feel an invisible presence of great dancers and choreographers Charles Louis Didlo, Marius Petipa, Mikhail Fokin, Alexander Shiryaev, Agrippina Vaganova, stars of the Russian Seasons Sergei Diaghilev Tamara Karsavin and Matilda Klesalovskaya Preobrazhenskaya, stars of classical world ballet Galina Ulanova and Tatyana Vecheslova, Natalya Dudinskaya and Konstantin Sergeyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureev, Natalya Makarova, Altynay Asylmuratova, Diana Vishneva, UliyanaLopatkin, Julia Mahalina and many others.

Many visitors come to St. Petersburg specifically to visit the Mariinsky or Mikhailovsky theatres, take pictures on the most famous ballet street in the world, visit theatre museums and historical sites associated with the great names of world classical ballet.