History of Russian Ballet
History of Russian Ballet History of Russian Ballet

Russian ballet is a form of ballet characteristic of or originating from Russia.

In the early 19th century, the theaters were opened up to anyone who could afford a ticket. There was a seating section called a rayok, or 'paradise gallery', that consisted of simple wooden benches. This allowed non-wealthy people access to the ballet, because tickets in this section were inexpensive.

Ballet Companies

The first ballet company was the Imperial School of Ballet in St. Petersburg in the 1740s.

The Ballets Russes was a ballet company founded in the 1909 by Sergey Diaghilev, an enormously important figure in the Russian ballet scene. The headquarters of his ballet company was located in Paris, France.

A protégé of Diaghilev, George Balanchine, founded the New York City Ballet in 1948.

Today, the Kirov Ballet company (now known as the Mariinsky Ballet) and the Bolshoi company are two world-renowned Russian ballet companies that tour the world.

Mariinsky Ballet (formerly Kirov ballet)
Bolshoi Ballet

Other Russian ballet companies include:

Ballets Russes, founded in 1909
Moscow State Academy of Choreography, commonly known as The Bolshoi Ballet Academy, founded in 1773
Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, founded in 1738 as the Imperial Ballet School
Saint Petersburg Eifman Ballet, founded in 1977
Mikhailovsky Theatre Ballet, founded in 1930s
Perm Theatre Ballet, founded in 1896
Novosibirsk Theatre Ballet, founded in 1945
Russian State Ballet of Siberia, founded in 1978
Amande Concerts, founded in 1999

There are also a number of companies who have been called, or included in their name, Moscow Ballet.


There are several methods of ballet in Russian ballet. The most widely used is the Vaganova method, which was named after the very famous ballerina and teacher, Agrippina Vaganova.

Notable Dancers

Anna Pavlova was one of the most celebrated dancers of her time.
Many Russian dancers have gone on to reach worldwide acclaim.

Notable Russian dancers include:

Nina Ananiashvili
Altynai Asylmuratova
Mikhail Baryshnikov
Natalia Bessmertnova
Vakhtang Chabukiani
Natalia Dudinskaya
Nikolai Fadeyechev
Alexander Godunov
Tamara Karsavina
Mathilde Kschessinska
Olga Lepeshinskaya
Larissa Lezhnina
Maris Liepa
Ulyana Lopatkina
Lydia Lopokova
Natalia Makarova
Vladimir Malakhov
Léonide Massine
Ekaterina Maximova
Galina Mezentseva
Mikhail Mordkin
Irek Mukhamedov
Vaslav Nijinsky
Rudolf Nureyev
Alla Osipenko
Anna Pavlova
Maya Plisetskaya
Olga Preobrajenska
Farukh Ruzimatov
Marina Semenova
Polina Semionova
Konstantin Sergeyev
Olga Spesivtseva
Galina Ulanova
Vladimir Vasiliev
Diana Vishneva
Svetlana Zakharova
Ekaterina Krysanova

Notable Performances

Romeo and Juliet (Prokofiev)
Cinderella (Prokofiev)
The Nutcracker
Swan Lake
The Sleeping Beauty (ballet)


Roslavleva, Natalia. Era of the Russian Ballet
Curtis, Glenn E. Russia: A Country Study
Willia-Aarnio, Peggy. Agrippina Vaganova (1879-1951): Her Place in the History of Ballet and Her Impact on the Future of Classical Dance
Curtis, Glenn E, ed. (1996). Russia: A Country Study. Washington: GPO for the Library of Congress.
Roslavleva, Natalia. (1966). Era of the Russian Ballet, New York: E.P. Dutton & Co., Inc.
Willis-Aarino, Peggy. (2002). Agrippina Vaganova (1879–1951): Her Place in the History of Ballet and Her Impact on the Future of Classical Dance, Lewiston, New York: Edwin Mellen Press.

Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear. -Ambrose Redmoon

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