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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Vaganova syllabi

Rich Beatt

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Hi dancers, I’m moving to a different community and have been in touch with a studio that is considering taking me on as a private student. They do Vaganova method. I’m searching the internet to find some level 6/7 syllabi to purchase. No luck. Do they exist? 

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I think there is a published syllabus, but it might be limited to qualified Vaganova teachers ie, those like our wonderful VRS (Teacher Mod here) who has taken the full pedagogy course at the Vaganova Institute in Petersburg.

You can find some films of the annual exams at the Institute on YouTube, but these are choreographed to show the strengths of the elite dancers in the training course. But they might give you an idea about the style. On the other hand, ballet is ballet is ballet, whatever the syllabus. 

The Vaganova style is very beautiful - in comparison with, for example RAD (or a traditional 'English' style) it is more elongated, and emphasises a use of the back and head which always looks to me to be more dramatic or extended. Yet even at the highest level (a member of my family studied the Vaganova system in their professional training and their dancing was always recognised in Europe as "Russian-style" training). There are different names for some steps. But really, it's all based on the same principles.

It should be lovely, learning the style - it strikes me as very simple and pure, but that of course, means that that cleanness of line is challenging to achieve. I hope you enjoy it!

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You’ll love Vaganova! I switched from RAD to Vaganova about 5 years ago and never looked back since. There’s a little more room and encouragement for drama and the style is just so aesthetic. Plus the classes are structured so well, a class in any other method cannot fully warm up and test my body the way a Vaganova class can. And, in my experience, the names make more sense for everything (e.g. a saute de chat for what RAD calls a develope jete).


Unlike RAD, Vaganova doesn’t have set exercises students need to learn for exams, just more of an outline of steps that need to be learned and mastered. In my experience the classes switch on a weekly basis, with classes later in the week being a slightly modified version of classes earlier in the week. The best resource is Basic Principles of Classical Ballet by Aggripina Vaganova herself, and old book for sure but still 100% relevant. They sell for like $8 on amazon. 

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There are no DVDs of "set execises" for sale on the Vaganova methodology, simply because there are very few set exercises. Google on YouTube, Vaganova Academy and you will see examination classes for the students. Depending on level, these combinations may have been studied for two weeks to a month to be presented to the jury. These exams give no instruction. You will need a teacher for that. All the best to you!

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Thank you! Yes, my original post indicated I will be attending lessons. I just wondered if they had materials like RAD. Apparently not. Many things to get used to that are different from the training I’ve had up to now. I’m looking forward to it:)

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  • 4 weeks later...

I think the method is meant to produce versatile dancers that can quickly learn and adapt to dancing, not towards practicing a set routine repeatedly for an exam. What is codified is what skills and steps one should have at each level, because without those prerequisites existing, it is hard for a Vaganova student to progress to the next level/course. If you read a few books on the Vaganova method, this becomes pretty apparent, and if you watch the many shared videos of the students in various academies in Russia, you can see their patient progression and how the very basic skills evolve into something quite advanced by year 5 and above. 

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