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The Vaganova program of study is set up to be taught beginning at the age of 10, 6 days a week, 5-6 hours a day, for 8-9 years of study. These are selected children. There have been many “experimentations” of the implementation over the years both inside and outside of Russia. In Russia, children study general physical fitness and stretching in order to prepare them for the very strict study of the Vaganova methodology for 2-3 years prior to studying ballet in a professional sense.
There are pre-ballet classes given at Vaganova Academy which consist of strenghtening and stretching exercises, along with dancing steps (skips, gliding steps, polkas, etc.) and general music and coordination exercises. Simply stated, the program of study in the first year of training in Vaganova is so very slow and complex, it takes a great deal of maturity and physical strength to handle the demands when taught as it has been thought out and structured. This means a huge commitment by the child, the family and the teacher.
Artistry is the final goal that is created by an accomplished technician, or someone that has gone through the required 8 year course of study. Artistry may be explored at this point It is not the goal to do “dancy-ness” at a young age, but to get the technique and then when the body has that, and the student has matured mentally and physically, is only then artistry worked on. We can’t expect artistry from first-year students who are working really hard and concentrating on technique, and executing particularly slow steps. And probably the teacher asks for clean technique and not expression.
Finally, it’s highly qualified instructors and coaches have backgrounds not only in the Vaganova method, but also in Vaganova pedagogy – so they not only know how to dance, they also know how to work with young people. Proper dance training can make it possible for a dance student to become a professional dancer and achieve their dream of dancing on stage. Quality dance training, when continued for a number of years, gives the student confidence as well as the ability to dance correctly. Classically trained ballet dancers can go anywhere in the world and take class anywhere they choose, without ever having to worry.