#TBT: Alina Somova at the Vaganova Academy in 1999

The Vaganova Academy has been a powerhouse for supreme technicians and artists for centuries. Iconic names—Balanchine, Nureyev, and Zakharova, to name a few—have sprung from the St. Petersburg school. Vaganova training transforms students to master the most difficult aspects of ballet technique, allowing room to grow into the utmost performers. Alina Somova, now a principal dancer for the Mariinksy Ballet (and our December 2011/January 2012 cover girl), has joined this list of icons. This video shows the 14-year-old Somova as a rising student at the school, executing unbelievable extension and control (she is the dancer farthest to the right at barre—the smallest but most ferocious). These clips expose the impressive quality with which these young dancers work, a latent strength that only ballet dancers themselves can identify. Somova draws the camera to her movement, especially at 3:00, when you can see her use the most expansive potential of her body in a tombé that lasts forever. Hoping this video will inspire your next technique class—Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

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