What do Diana Vishneva, Olga Smirnova, Kristina Shapran and Maria Khoreva all have in common? These women, among the most impressive talents to graduate from the Vaganova Ballet Academy in recent years, all studied under legendary professor Lyudmila Kovaleva. Kovaleva, a former dancer with the Kirov Ballet (now the Mariinsky), is beloved by her students and admired throughout the ballet world for her ability to pull individuality and artistry out of the dancers she trains. Like any great teacher, Kovaleva is remarkably generous with her wealth of knowledge; it seems perfect, then, that she appears as the Fairy of Generosity in this clip from a 1964 film of the Kirov's The Sleeping Beauty.


Liudmila Kovaleva-Fairy of Generousity (1964) www.youtube.com

In this rosy-hued prologue scene, Kovaleva makes her simple variation poetic, turning the steps into symbols of her character's gifts. She leans into every movement and her plush port de bras overflows with sweetness. Kovaleva's students point to this sense of intention as her secret. "Her rehearsals always inspire me," said Smirnova in a recent interview, "She knows how to grab your interest by making simple steps in a variation come alive, making it nuanced and colorful." Happy #ThrowbackThursday!

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