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

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 296 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Florida; First edition (September 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813036976
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813036977
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #899,452 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Catherine Pawlick began studying ballet at the age of six in the San Francisco Bay Area. She danced for over twenty years, performing in regional ballet companies in both California and Washington D.C.

Following intensive Russian language training through a Bachelor of Science degree at Georgetown University in languages and linguistics, she relocated to Saint Petersburg, Russia in 2004 where she lived as a full-time resident for over six years.

Pawlick has written for the San Francisco Chronicle, Ballet Review, and VoiceofDance.com. She has been the moderator of the Kirov-Mariinsky forum on Criticaldance.com since 2003. She has also written for Dance Europe magazine (London) as a correspondent since 2005.

Since 2010, Pawlick has been dividing her time between Saint Petersburg and San Francisco, where she works as a Russian and French translator. She is currently working on her second book.

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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!!!
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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.
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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.
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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!
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Format: Hardcover
Catherine Pawlick's detailed and insightful research rewards us with a rich and wonderful read and raises shared concerns amongst ballet cognoscenti today. Throughout my read, I was audibly agreeing with the contents therein. Ms Pawlick, with tenacity, intelligence and perseverance, has given us access to share privileged interviews with the Vaganova pedagogues, icons of the ballet world. These interviews pose the dilemma of whether the Vaganova method of schooling and style is now being eroded by the inflences of the 21st century, not only through our modern quick pace lifestyles, but also by the ease of sharing different styles of schooling through worldwide media access. It is vital that the Vaganova School maintains their unique style which balletomanes understand to be the epitome and essence of classical ballet. We do not and must not let this be eroded into a place where ballet has a homogenous and lacklustre style worldwide. I would urge a wider audience to read this brilliantly researched book which has been lovingly written by Ms Pawlick - in reaching to a wider audience, I sincerely hope that more people will realise the vital importance of preserving the Vaganova stlyle, not as a museun piece but nurturing it to enhance what is classical ballet now and forever. My sincere gratitude to Ms Pawlick for her insightful work.
Amanda Selby, London
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