The Vaganova Syllabus

Ballet Fantastique’s Academy is divided into two sections: the Young Dancer Program (ages 2-9) and the Professional Division (ages 7 and up). Both divisions are based in progressive, specially developed training plans with specific goals for dancers to achieve before moving on to the next level.

More specifically, our Professional Division classes follow the eight levels of the internationally renowned Vaganova Syllabus, a notated and progressive training program that has produced some of the best dancers in the world, including Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Baryshnikov, the legendary choreographer George Balanchine, and professional dancers in almost every company in the world.

Originally developed by Mme. Agrippina Vaganova over one hundred years ago, the Vaganova Method combined elements of the French romantic ballet’s lyricism and the Italian ballet’s athleticism to reform the old imperial method of teaching. It emphasizes the simultaneous development of both technical proficiency and individual artistry, and a complete range of movemental expression that comes out of proper placement and a strong classical dance foundation.

Most importantly, because each step in the Syllabus builds on a carefully developed progression in which the “basic,” or preparatory, forms are mastered before the dancer moves on to more difficult “final” forms, the Vaganova Method’s codified technical approach - when taught by qualified teachers following the syllabus closely - establishes the foundation for INJURY-FREE training.

Many dance schools employ a training philosophy that assumes that if a dancer is introduced to a complicated step like a turn or a jump and tries it for many years, he or she will “eventually get it right.” In contrast, schools following the Vaganova Syllabus ensure that when a dancer is introduced to a step (which sometimes requires waiting to build strength and readiness), he or she will have developed the strong foundation and strength that paves the way for success. Training progressively, just as one would do in piano or learning another language - prevents accruing bad or dangerous habits along the way - and frustration with just not being able to “get” it. We’ve found that our use of the Vaganova Method (precisely because it’s progressive and knowledge-based) coaches Ballet Fantastique dancers for success and independence: they know why they’re learning a step, are able to perform it successfully when it is introduced, and feel more positive and proactive in general about their training. We can’t recommend this training approach highly enough to anyone who wants to learn how to dance.

Finally, Ballet Fantastique’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.

Professional Division students at BFan take a yearly level examination in which they are individually evaluated according to the notated benchmarks and are given personal feedback on their strengths and artistic and technical development, and after which they are awarded well-deserved medals of achievement.