Forget the Royal Ballet School or the The School of American Ballet, Nikolai Tsiskaridze says there are only three real ballet schools in the world: the Paris Opera Ballet School, the Bolshoi Ballet Academy and the Vaganova Ballet Academy, which he is currently running.
I always said there are only three schools in the world: if you want to be a real ballet artist, you must train in Paris, St Petersburg or Moscow. That's it! These are the three main centres for ballet culture,
Interfax reported him as saying.
Graduates at the Vaganova Ballet Academy have no problems in finding employment. Graduates often go to work in smaller companies because they have the opportunity to dance lead roles.
I was invited to many different places, but there was only one theatre for me: the Bolshoi. I had dreamt of dancing there since I was a child. Some people said that I may get into the corps de ballet at the Bolshoi, but for me that was unimportant because it would still be at the Bolshoi Theatre.
Tsiskaridze, who seems passionate about his position as acting head of the school, is proud that its graduates are now free to take up a post anywhere in the world.
We have no law that says our graduates must go to a certain theatre, they have freedom of choice which those who came before them fought for.
He said that the Vaganova Ballet Academy diploma was a guarantee for the entire career:
It is more than just a piece of paper, but more like a piece of armour… armour to protect the dancer during a career. The diploma awarded here in St Petersburg is more valuable than any other in the world.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano') about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman's Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia' column for Dancing Times magazine.