Articles From the October 1994 Unification News


Poised for Greatness

by Kate Tsubata
Kirov Academy Staff

The year 1994 has been filled with excitement and challenges for the Kirov Academy of Ballet. With the plans underway for the joint tour of "The Nutcracker" with the St. Petersburg-based Kirov Ballet to take place in November and December, it looks like the year will conclude with a flourish.

This "Nutcracker" tour builds on the foundation created last year in which the Kirov Academy students danced together with the Kirov Ballet in Panama City, Florida, New Orleans, Louisiana, and Mexico City.

This year, the stunning production will be presented in Detroit, Michigan, Miami Beach, Florida and San Jose, California.

The 80-member cast performs the unabridged, original choreography and music that was first presented a century ago in imperial Russia. The story of the nutcracker doll presented to a little girl at a Christmas party, who magically comes to life and leads her through marvelous adventures, is one that no family can resist. Critics last year raved about the precise choreography, dreamlike sets, sumptuous costumes and impeccable technique of the production.

Although having children dance in "The Nutcracker" is a tradition as old as the ballet itself-even the debut featured students and adult dancers together-the training of the Kirov Academy students allows them to dance the roles normally reserved for featured solo dancers. Since school began, the students have already been rehearsing their roles-and many have four or five roles in the performance. It is a rare opportunity for students aged 12 to 20 to be able to dance side by side with the premiere professional dancers of the finest Russian tradition.

It is no accident, however, that the Kirov Academy students are capable of taking on such an ambitious project. Since the school's inception in 1990, under the name "Universal Ballet Academy," it has been teaching the world-renowned Vaganova ballet technique to talented students drawn from all over the world. Under the leadership of Artistic Director Oleg Vinogradov and his wife, Deputy Artistic Director Yelena Vinogradova, the faculty have worked hard to cultivate the students' mastery of the Kirov technique and its extensive classical repertoire.

This ballet tradition produced the most-noted ballet stars of our lifetime: Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Natalia Makharova, George Balanchine, and such current premier dancers as Andris Liepa, Yulia Makhalina and many more.

At a recent performance in June, the Kirov Academy invited six of the current students to perform.

Wrote Pamela Squires of The Washington Post: "On Saturday, the 67- student academy held its spring concert and opened its doors to the public for the first time. And an impressive performance it was-from the finely molded students who performed classroom exercises and selections to the guest artists from the Kirov Ballet who came here specially for this event.... The students have absorbed the [Vaganova] style with ardent commitment."

Not only has the school as a whole won recognition as one of the foremost dance academies in the nation, but individual students are garnering first place in competitions with their counterparts all over the world. This has virtually put to rest the former suspicion and resistance which the school faced previously.

"The artistic product which this academy turns out," remarked Executive Director Jeffrey Benson, "ranks, by all objective accounts, among the finest in the world. Everyone who has worked to bring this about can be very proud."

In addition to the successes of the "Legacy" performance, the individual honors given to the students, and the current accomplishments being made in the "Nutcracker" tour, the Kirov Academy has been able to send students to top academic schools, thanks to its excellent in-house academic program. The students are learning a full academic curriculum, including a choice of French or Russian as their foreign language.

If you would like to receive a newsletter with more updates on the achievements of the Kirov Academy, call 202-832-1087 and ask for the newsletter office.


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