The Russian Vaganova Technique Dance Society conducted its fourth trip to St. Petersburg, Russia for ballet students, instructors, and chaperones organized by the Artistic Director Maria Mitrache Bokor The trip was an overwhelming success and provided exceptional ballet and cultural experiences.

Eighteen dancers, eight teachers and 12 parent chaperones departed for a ten day intensive dance workshop on March 23, 2005. Dancers were from Alberta and British Columbia. The Itinerary consisted of daily classes in Ballet, Pas De Deux, Variations and Repertoire with Ballet Masters and Professional dancers from Vaganova School and The Mussorgsky Ballet Opera, within the Mussorgsky Theatre located on Arts Square. Ballet Classes were held each morning from 9:00 am until 12:00 noon.

An example of a typical day:

7:00 AM               Wake up time
7:45 AM               Breakfast at the Hotel Sovietskaya Buffet
8:30 AM               On the bus to the Mussorgsky Theatre. This bus left promptly – some mornings people were left behind as they were tardy!!
9:00 – 12:00         Classes (Ballet technique, Variations from classical repetoire, Pas de Deux)
12:15 PM             Eat lunch on the bus and travel to sight seeing spot(s), or museum.
5:00 PM               Supper (usually at the DaVinci Restaurant.) very good food!
6:30 PM               Back on to the bus to be driven to the Theatre for Ballet Show.
10:00 PM             Drive back to the Hotel – get ready for bed

Following the daily rigorous ballet classes (which could be watched by parents), everyone boarded the tour bus and ate lunch while traveling to various sightseeing attractions such as: The Hermitage and Winter Palace, Peterhof, Tsarskoe Selo (The Summer Palace) in Pushkin, The Usopov Palace, Constantine Palace, many Churches and Cathedrals including The Church of the Saviour on Spilled Blood and St. Isaac’s Cathedral, Peter and Paul Fortress. The Vaganova Academy Museum was very interesting as the girls were given a lecture by one of the directors and were able to see Anna Pavlova’s shoes, Vaslav Nijinsky’s costume from “La Rose de Spectre’ and other beautiful costumes and displays. There were many other general tours of the city.

Evenings were filled at the Mussorgsky Theatre, the famous Mariinsky Theatre (home of the world famous former Kirov Ballet, and also the Hermitage Theatre in the Winter Palace.

The group attended ballet performances including La Sylphide, Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, The Daria Pavlenko Gala Performance, Daphnis et Chloe, Le Valse, Le Corsaire, Mariinsky 5th International Ballet Festival Performances, Don Quixote starring Alina Cojacaru, La Bayedere, Le Sacre du Printemps, and an Evening with dances by Balanchine and Forsythe.

One of the highlights of the ballet classes included a lesson taught by a professor from the Vaganova Academy- the famous Russian ballerina Ludmilla Safronova who is well into her eighty’s! Professor Safronova was responsible for writing the Vaganova Syllabus. Her ballet teacher was the famous Agrippa Vaganova. It was amazing to see what a teacher of this age could show in her performance as teacher. The girls were surprised because Professor Safronova taught the class in English! The other classes were taught in Russian and were translated by Vasyl and Anna Kanavets and Maria Mitrache Bokor from Edmonton.

Anatoly Sidorov, State Prize Laureate and Honoured Artist of Russia, was the main Ballet Master for Ballet technique and Pas de Deux Classes. He was one of Professor Safronova’s dance partners. The Repetoire Class was taught by Ballet Mistress Regina Kuzmicheva – former prima ballerina and Honoured Artist of Russia. The girls were taught ballet parts from Esmeralda, La Fille ma Gardee, and some Corps work from Giselle. Six male dancers from the Mussorgsky Ballet Theatre participated in the Pas de Deux classes with the two Canadian male dancers giving the girls many opportunities for partner work. This class was an absolute highlight for our girls, teachers. (Also for the parents watching this class!!).

Another highlight of the trip was to visit the VozRozhdenie Ballet Shop – Manufacturers and Suppliers to the Creative Trade, where all the dancers purchased pointe shoes (20 dollars!) character shoes, legwarmers and other delightful souvenirs. They were amazed to see many beautiful ballet tutus and headpieces that were on display for purchase. Too bad there was not enough room in the suitcases – maybe next trip? One dancer special ordered lavender coloured pointe shoes that were ready the following week for her to take back to Canada!

The group enjoyed the shopping experiences wherever they went and many came home with beautiful fur hats and small artworks. The teens enjoyed seeing the European fashions that were on display and for sale in many of the fine stores in the large shopping mall on Nevsky Prospekt. Shopping in St. Petersburg was one activity the girls enjoyed very much! The market by the Church on Spilled Blood was a wonderful place to visit to buy Russian trinkets to bring home as gifts. The dancers enjoyed using their bartering skills at the market!! Parents had the opportunity to visit and purchase items at the Famous Lmonosov Porcelain Shop Factory where they were treated to beautiful sights of hand painted porcelain tea sets! (Many of us enjoyed the Chocolate and Ice Cream Stores!)