26 June 1879
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
November 1951 (aged 72)
Leningrad (Saint Petersburg), Soviet Union
Ballet dancer, teacher
The Vaganova Method
Agrippina Vaganova was a dancer, choreographer and teacher who lived and worked in St. Petersburg, Russia. Born in 1879, she studied at the Imperial Ballet School (now dedicated to her memory as the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet) and danced with the Imperial Ballet (later called the Kirov Ballet and now the Mariinsky Ballet), where she eventually attained the rank of prima ballerina. Vaganova then retired to concentrate on teaching ballet. She struggled to preserve Russian classical ballet traditions in post-revolutionary Russia but her interest in pedagogy led her to publish the seminal book Fundamentals of Classical Dance and to focus more and more on teaching other teachers of ballet.
She developed a method of teaching ballet that combined the elegant, refined style of French ballet, with the strong and masterly footwork of the Italian school, the smooth, beautiful arm movements of the old Russian school and the more vigorous, athletic dance style developed in the Soviet Union. Many of the most famous Soviet dancers were her students, including: Galina Ulanova, Natalia Dudinskaya, Alla Ossipenko, Marina Semenova and many others. What is today known around the world as Russian ballet is principally derived from the method of Agrippina Vaganova.