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Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition Hardcover – Sep 4 2011

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Vaganova Today: The Preservation of Pedagogical Tradition + Basic Principles of Classical Ballet + 100 Lessons in Classical Ballet: The Eight-Year Program of Leningrad's Vaganova Choreographic School
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About the Author

Catherine E. Pawlick danced with ballet companies in the United States before moving to St. Petersburg, Russia, where she lived for six years, observing classes at the Vaganova Academy and rehearsals and performances at the Mariinsky Theatre. Fluent in French and Russian, she has written on dance for the "San Francisco Chronicle," "Ballet Review," and "Dance Europe."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
Vaganova Always Sept. 6 2011
By Michael in Mexico - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I finished reading Vaganova last night. Ms. Pawlick did a great job. I was especially impressed with and interested in the main part of the book where she uncovers such a rich, detailed expression of what the pedagogues think about the status of teaching today compared to the past and the philosophical underpinnings beneath their opinions. Really good work on her part....and to have the opportunity to actually talk to these people and get first-hand impressions from them is invaluable! I guess all those months of camping out in the Mariinsky hallways really paid off.

I've always been a fan of ballet and, although I would like to think of myself as fairly well informed about it, I had to admit after reading the book that I fall into that category of audience member that really needs to be better educated about what I'm seeing in order to get the full value of the experience. I loved that part of the book where this is discussed. Loved the references throughout the years about the differences between ballet, sports and circus! So very well put and important not to forget. "How you lift your leg is more important than how high it goes" is SO true.

Reading the book also took me someplace else I wasn't expecting. Something the author hasn't started to experience yet...but getting older is a real adventure. I still remember my first impressions and introductions to classical ballet. I was still a teenager when I saw Maya Plisétskaya dance and in my mind's eye she's still as she was then. I about fell off my chair when reading Vaganova Today led me to realize she's now in her 80s! How could that be? Where did the time go? But then, I seem not to notice that I'm pushing 70!!! What I remember most vividly about seeing the Kirov productions and something I still comment about when I go to other productions from other companies is the almost perfect synchronization of the corps de just don't see that anywhere else and now, thanks to Pawlick's book, I know why that is.

What made reading Vaganova even more exciting and pleasurable is that I did it with my laptop sitting next to me plugged into YouTube and I was able to go from reading something in the book to watching a video of one of the dancers mentioned and was able to see just what the author was talking about. Which leads me to my final observation. It took me most of last night to get through the final 20 pages or so because I couldn't stop looking at Uliana Lopatkina videos! I must have watched her doing the Dying Swan ten or more times in videos filmed in different years each one getting more and more beautiful as she perfected the moves with the passing of time. (Of course, having to stop reading while I dried my tears after each swan death and get ready for another emotional onslaught didn't help the reading to go any faster!). She is absolutely gorgeous; I can't begin to imagine what it must have been like to see her dance in person and to actually have been able to sit across from her and interview her has got to be an experience the author will cherish forever. What a treat!

And finally , as any good author will do, Pawlick left me wanting more.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
An Academic Gift Aug. 23 2011
By Ms.B. Mellin - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The author has spent years visiting the St Petersburg, Russia archives and translating the documents covering centuries of ballet history. The focus is on the influence of Agrippina Vaganova whose methodology contributed to the training of Makarova, Baryshnikov, Nureyev and so many other famous dancers. Using the Chicago Manual of Style format, quotes from those who were involved in the evolution of the current Mariinsky Theatre Ballet,interviews with company members, as well as never before seen photographs are presented in a concise, factual, descriptive and enjoyable reading style. The effects of the political system, the international influence ( Italy and France especially) as well as explanation of basic ballet techniques are explored in a educational manner that would be a gift to any University Dance History course reading list, pedagogue in the dancing academy or indeed, last but certainly not least, the enthusiastic balletomane.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Fascinating insight into the St. Petersburg ballet world Aug. 30 2011
By Natalia Olivera - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I cannot heap enough praise on this fascinating analysis of the most famous ballet school on earth, the Academy of Russian Ballet, a.k.a. Vaganova. Catherine E. Pawlick uses her first-hand insights, multi-lingual skills, and keen knowledge of the Russian ballet to carefully peel the secretive onion of the St Petersburg ballet world, while focusing on the Vaganova's training and the coaching that happens after the top graduates enter the Mariinsky Ballet troupe. Via multiple interviews with esteemed Academy professors (most of them ballet stars and soloists not long ago) and careful research in theatrical libraries, Pawlick analyses how and why stylistic changes has crept into the teaching during the past two decades.

Although not a biography per se, the book offers a substantial historical review of the life of Mme Vaganova, the ballet teacher who developed the instructional method that led to the great Soviet ballet style (now a universal style). The 'bio section' affords an alternative to the 'politically skewed' Soviet-era biography of Vaganova by Krassovskaya.

This intelligently-written, yet highly-understandable, tome will delight both specialists and balletomanes. Generously illustrated.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Dance is Love Nov. 2 2011
By viorica g stampfel - Published on
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For me, dance was my joy, my calling and my career. I danced professionally in Europe being trained by the best Russian and Romanian teachers. We, Romanians, followed Vaganova's pedagogical method and I wasn't even aware how lucky I was.
When I came to USA and started teaching in dance schools, I was surprised to see so many young kids, way too young to attempt ballet. I started when I was 9 years old and my body had some control and coordination. I was able to pass the exams every year for the 9 years of training.
This book makes me realize the high level of training and excellence in education I had. It also brings to the forefront the question of "when are we going to recognize the damage that can be done to a 5 year old on pointe?" And also, "where are American ballet teachers get their pedagogical experience?".
Great book!
You mean yesterday April 9 2013
By toddy boy - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Way to much time on the early years, much of which has been said before, and too light a treatment of the present influence and trends.