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!
Bunheads tuning in to the season premiere of ABC's "The Bachelor" on January 4 may have recognized a familiar face: Dance Theatre of Harlem's Alicia Mae Holloway, literally bourréeing out of a limousine to greet bachelor Matt James. While Holloway unfortunately didn't get a rose that night, she did thoroughly enjoy being the long-running reality franchise's first professional-ballerina contestant, as she told Pointe in a recent Zoom call.
Alicia Mae Holloway
Renee Choi, Courtesy Holloway
Carla Fracci, a former principal dancer of La Scala Ballet in Milan, is among the rare class of ballerinas who continued to perform into her 50s and beyond. Romantic ballets were her calling card throughout her career. In 1987, when Fracci was 51, she was featured in a television special, dancing reconstructed 19th-century ballets in the style of historical ballerinas. In this clip of La Esmeralda from the program, Fracci and her partner Stephen Jefferies, a former principal at The Royal Ballet, deliver an extraordinary performance, capturing the verve and spirit of their characters.