At the Vaganova Ballet Academy, being chosen to dance a leading role in the final graduation performance is no small honor. One of the top ballet programs in the world, the Academy was founded in 1738 and has since trained countless stars, including Anna Pavlova, George Balanchine, Mikhail Baryshnikov and Diana Vishneva (just to name a few). The technique taught at the school was created by one of its most influential teachers, Agrippina Vaganova, and her resulting curriculum is both intense and competitive.
For a dancer so famous for having a distinctly Spanish flair, it may seem ironic that it was her success at a Paris competition that led to recognition as a future ballet star. In 1994, Tamara Rojo—now doing double duty as both a principal dancer and artistic director of English National Ballet—received the gold medal and the Special Jury Prize at the Paris International Dance Competition, in which she performed the sensual piece “Arrayan Daraxa.”
A quintessential Bournonville piece, Flower Festival in Genzano was originally a one-act ballet choreographed in 1858 for the Royal Danish Ballet. Although the full ballet was inspired by an Alexandre Dumas tale, today only the pas de deux survives. Nevertheless, the charming love story is still apparent in this flirtatious duet, which includes an entrance, two variations and a coda.