"Look at life all around; everything is growing,
everything is moving forward. Therefore I recommend…
keeping in touch with life and with art".
– Agrippina Vaganova
Famed pedagogue Agrippina Vaganova (1879-1951), is known for her development of a new training system for dancers in the first half of the 20th century, now known as the Vaganova technique. It encompassed both the French and Italian styles of ballet with what is described as 'Russian soul'. Vaganova emphasised that her training system could not remain static, but would continually evolve by experiences and new developments in arts and science. This is why it is traditionally referred to as a style versus a method.
Rather than isolating the body into different parts, the Vaganova technique involves the coordination of the entire body, leading to harmony of movement and further expressiveness. Movements originate 'from the body' (ie. spine, back and abdominal muscles) which lead to a beautiful plasticity and breadth of movement. The use of the upper body is particularly important, with the arms not only being used as ornamentation to footwork, but to actually support the work of the lower body.
In 1948, Vaganova published a book titled 'Basic Principles of Russian Classical Ballet: Russian Ballet Technique' that outlined her training method and ballet technique. This book remains an important source of information for Vaganova trained teachers and dancers today.