She was within the final graduating class of Agrippina Vaganova — Vaganova, who codified the Russian coaching methodology and gave her identify to St. Petersburg’s well-known ballet academy. Earlier than that, Vaganova was a ballerina working beneath Marius Petipa himself, the generator of ballet’s treasured classics like “La Bayadère,” “The Sleeping Magnificence” and “Swan Lake.”
That makes Kolpakova, in ballet succession phrases, a direct descendant of Petipa.
EACH GENERATION, AND EACH COMPANY, wants to seek out its personal solution to dance Petipa. It was Mikhail Baryshnikov, himself a product of the Kirov, who invited Kolpakova to New York, in 1989. He was then Ballet Theater’s creative director, making an attempt to nurture a era of younger American dancers to interchange the worldwide stars the corporate had trusted to spice up ticket gross sales. A kind of younger dancers was Jaffe, to whom he confirmed a tape of Kolpakova within the Petipa ballet “Raymonda.”
Jaffe remembered Baryshnikov asking: “Do you want her? Do you wish to work together with her? She was my mentor.”
Kolpakova accepted Baryshnikov’s invitation. “I’d all the time preferred America,” she stated. She had been with the Kirov, in 1961, after they toured “for 3 months — on the prepare! — New York to L.A., stopping in all of the completely different cities. We tried to see the Balanchine firm, the Joffrey. …” She’d had a very good life in Russia, she stated, however was “ to see how one other ballet firm lives.”
For years now she has labored and lived largely in New York together with her husband, Vladilen Semenov, her former accomplice on the Kirov.
I FIRST MET KOLPAKOVA in 1990 in St. Petersburg, Russia, when The New Yorker despatched me to write down about how the dissolution of the Soviet Union was taking part in out in its most refined ballet firm, the Kirov. She was already splitting her time between New York and Russia, and was on certainly one of her periodic journeys again. From my first day within the theater, I felt the reverence surrounding Irina Alexandrovna, as she was referred to as. (Russians use the primary identify and patronymic to sign respect.)