Our Program Instructors:


Students of Agrippina Vaganova -

Ludmila Safronova

Born in Leningrad in 1929, Professor Safronova studied at Vaganova Academy with Agrippina Vaganova herself and immediately after graduation was invited to become a Principal dancer with what is now the Mikhailovsky Theatre. Because of Safronova's incredible schooling, she was trusted with interpretation of leading parts in new creations of Leonid Yakobson and other new, talented choreographers in addition to truly classical roles. Studying with Agrippina Vaganova, made Ludmila Safronova interested in teaching early in her career and after finishing her education in pedagogy in 1969 at Vaganova Academy, she began teaching at the academy and ballet schools abroad. During her teaching career she has raised over 60 ballerinas including leading dancers of major ballet companies including the Mariinsky Theatre, Mikhailovsky Theatre , American Ballet Theatre, Munich Ballet, London Festival Ballet and others.

Irina Kolpakova

Graduated in 1951 from Agrippina Vaganova's last graduating class. With her exquisite academic style she excelled in the classical repertorie and was Kirov's leading ballerina in the 1960's. Irina Kolpakova is widely recognized as one of the finest ballerinas of the last century. Her Pirncess Aurora in the "Sleeping Beauty", became a signature role, in which she was regarded as one of the foremost interpreters of our time. Irina Kolpakova was partnered by equally famed ballet stars Mikhail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, as well as by her husband, the Kirov's Premier Danceur Noble, Vladilen Semenov. She carried the Vaganova tradition to coming generations teaching and coaching at the Vaganova School and the Mariinsky Theatre. Kolpakova was made a People's Artist of USSR in 1965 and a Hero of Socialist Labor and the Order of Lenin in 1983 and was a awarded a pension by presidential decree in 1996 for outstanding contribution to the development of national art. Mrs. Kolpakova has also been awarded the Dance Magazine Award and Anna Pavlova Prize. In the 1990's she became a choreographer and coach at the American Ballet Theatre in New York City where she is currently a ballet mistress. There are many videos of Kolpakova. In the 1990's she became a choreographer and coach at the American Ballet Theatre in New York City where she is currently a ballet mistress. She has coached the likes of Maria Kochetkova, Isabella Boylston and Paloma Herrera at American Ballet Theatre. Check out this one of her in the Rose Adagio of Sleeping Beauty. Also read this story from the New York Times, Oct. 19, 2014, about Kolpakova and her work with ABT.

Irina Trofimova

Another esteemed pupil of Agrippina Vaganova, Professor Trofimova graduated from the class of Maria Romanova, mother of iconic ballerina Galina Ulanova. Still today in Professor Trofimova's combinations and upper body movements, you can see the elegance and grace also shown in Ulanova's dance. Trofimova stopped dancing due to an injury and was accepted to the pedagogy course of the Leningrad Conservatory under Agrippina Vaganova which makes her unique in that she learned to teach from Vaganova. Since her graduation in 1951 she has continuously taught at Vaganova Academy leading the pedagogical faculty.

Professor Trofimova joined us at Open World Dance Foundation's initial summer intensive in Sochi, Russia. Her teaching is truly priceless. This esteemed professor of Vaganova Academy is referenced in many dancers' biographies.



Trained at Vaganova Academy -

Elena Sherstneva

Madam Sherstneva graduated from Vaganova Academy in 1975. Upon graduation, she was invited to the Kirov and enjoyed her career with the company for almost 30 years. She was one of not many ballerinas whose versatile technique allowed her to move easily from leading roles "en pointe" to acting and character parts. Because of her incredible lines and musicality together with brilliant stage personality and acting, many St. Petersburg dancers grew up watching her on stage in every character part possible, learning from Ms. Sherstneva and hoping to rehearse one day under her supervision. Many of her students now dance with Mariinksy, Mikhailovsky and Yakobson Theaters and with other companies around the world.

Lazaro Carreño - Instructor

One of the first international dancers to be invited to study at Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia. Even though he was only twelve years old, he was noticed by legendary Leonid Yakobson and a dance was created for him in his first year. Upon finishing his studies Mr. Carreño joined the National Ballet Camaguey where he enjoyed dancing many contemporary and classical roles. The following year he started dancing with the Cuban National Ballet and soon became a principal dancer receiving excellent reviews worldwide especially upon becoming a dance partner for the legendary Alicia Alonso. He remains the most awarded Cuban dancer of all time. Carreño's teaching career has been as remarkable as his dancing one. He first started teaching in the Cuban Ballet Company in 1972 and was later granted the title of Maitre of Ballet. He has extensive credentials as a teacher and choreographer including work with: Toronto's National Ballet School of Canada, Britain's Royal Ballet, Paris Opera Ballet, Houston Ballet, Royal Conservatory of Dance in Madrid and American Ballet Theatre. See video of Señor Carreño.

Vladilen Semenov

One of Russia's finest Danseur Noble, Mr. Semenov, a People's Artist of the Soviet Union recipient was a principal dancer excelling in the great classics with the Kirov Ballet (now Mariinsky Theatre) from 1950-1996. After being their Artistic Director, he taught at Vaganova Academy and was the Ballet Master and company teacher for Ballet International in Indianapolis. Currently he has been a guest teacher in New York with American Ballet Theatre, their JKO school as well as in other New York and U.S. programs and schools. Together with his wife and former partner, Irina Kolpakova, he has toured the world as an international guest pedagogue. See video of Kolpakova & Semenov.

Aleksandr Stepin

Graduate of Vaganova Academy and current teacher of acting at the school, Mr. Stepin worked closely with famed choreographer Leonid Yakobson. Today he serves as the repetiteur of Yakobson's works. He staged US dancers who performed the piece "Gossipers" at the International Ballet School Festival in Estonia this summer.

Anatoly Sidorov

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Mr. Sidorov graduated with honors from the Vaganova Academy, being taught by such notables as K. V. Shatilov and A. I. Pushkin. He danced for the Mariinsky Theatre and became the Principal dancer with the Mikhailovsky Theatre and subsequently served as their Senior Repetiteur. He taught pas-de-deux class at the Vaganova Academy where his students included Ekaterina Shchelkanova and Anton Boytsov, our founders. For his outstanding achievements in ballet, Mr Sidorov was awarded the title of Honoured Artist of the Russian Federation.

Special Guests-

Cyril Atanasoff

Sir Atanasoff joined the École de danse de l'Opéra national de Paris in 1953, and during his military service became principal dancer in 1962. He danced a vast array of major roles and had numerous roles created for him. Equally at home in the romantic and classical ballet on stage and film, he also plays as an actor. He had the privilege of dancing with the dancers of the largest international ballet: Alicia Alonso, Eva Evdokimova Galina Samsova, Nina Vyrubova, and Katia Maximova. Cyril Atanassoff won the Nizhinzkij Prize in 1965 and received the title of Knight of the National French Order on merit, Knight of the Arts and Literature and Professor of ballet at the Paris Opera. He retired at the age of 45 years (1986), but returned several times on the stage of the Paris Opera as a guest. After teaching classical dance at Conservatoire de Paris (Paris Conservatory), and for the Opera Ballet Corps, he retired but still stands ready to share his experience. See video of Grand Pas Classique