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Stars of the Kirov Ballet Biographies

Irina Kolpakova Biography

Irina Kolpakova was born in the spring of 1933 in Leningrad (Saint Petersburg), hometown of the famous Kirov Ballet Company, where she would grow into one of the Ballet world’s biggest stars. After graduating from the Leningrad Ballet School in 1951, where she studied with the famed teacher Agrippina Vaganova, Kolpakova became a member of the Kirov Ballet Company. Her polished stage presence, coupled with fundamentally sound dancing, made her a perfect ballerina for lyrical roles from the classical repertory. 

Despite her reputation for excelling in classic roles such as Masha in the “The Nutcracker” or the title role in “Cinderella,” as the 1960s and 70s progressed Kolpakova expanded her repertoire by creating new roles for more modern choreography in ballets such as Yuri Grigorovich’s “The Stone Flower.” Roles like this, and the influence of Grigorovich, forced the critics and public to view Kolpakova’s talents in a new light that helped her repuatation flourish as a more complete and expressive dancer, rather then simply a technical or academic one.
After being promoted to Prima Ballerina, Kolpakova played the lead role of Giselle when the Kirov came to New York to perform. Her youthful and gracious performance was hailed by critics, raising Kolpakova’s profile to international celebrity. Impressed by the American dance community, and now married to fellow russian dancer (and long-time stage partner) Vladilen Semenov, Kolpanoka retired the year following her New York performance to accept a position as a guest teacher at the American Ballet Theatre, which promoted her to Ballet Mistress in 1990.
Irina Kolpakova’s long and storied career saw its share of both struggles and genius, but ultimately she grew into one of the premier ballerinas of her generation, earning the title of People's Artist of the USSR, amongst other, and earning the respect of nearly every critic who doubted the ballerina at the outset of her illustrious career.

Gabriella Komleva Biography
Born in 1938, after training with Vera Kostrovitskaya at the Leningrad Ballet School, Gabriella Komleva graduated from the arduous ballet academy in 1957, where she spent the following 23 years as a dancer before becoming a teacher at the same school.
From the early stages of her career, Komleva was embraced as a diverse and complete dancer, able to excel in classical roles and new choreography alike. She danced roles from the traditional repertory such as Odette-Odile from “Swan Lake” or Giselle, from the ballet of the same name, with the same ease she could perform modern roles such as the hopeless girl from “The Coast of Hope,” or Ariadne in “The Mountain Girl.” This ability to dance a variety of styles kept Komleva in high demand, but also allowed her the flexability to choose her projects. Kompleva became the premier interpreter of the complex and difficult genre of dance symphony, where she enhanced her reputation even more, most notably in George Balanchine’s “Le Palais de Cristal.” She also danced in productions by many foreign choreographers, such as Anton Dolin’s “Pas de Quatre,” before retiring from dance in 1980.
She was the focus of numerous films such as “Gabriella Komleva Dances,” and the 1979 film version of “La Bayadere.” She continues to live and teach ballet in Russia. After a career in which she openly embraced a diversity of styles in her dancing, Gabriella Komleva gained a reputation as a versatile yet flawless dancer, earning her the highest of accolades. Her legacy is revealed and emboldened in her impressively individual dancing that seemingly inherited the myriad of styles created by the many generations of the Kirov Ballet Company.
Galina Mezentseva Biography
Born in Stravropol, Russia, Galina Mezentseva was selected at the age of nine to enter the renowned Vaganova Ballet Academy in Saint Petersburg. After completing the prestigious nine-year program where she was personally trained by the world-renowned Olga Moiseeva, Mezentseva moved directly into Principal Ballerina position at the Kirov Ballet Company, a feat rarely achieved by someone of her young age.  For the following decade, Mezentseva not only received rave reviews and standing ovations with the Kirov Ballet, but secured her position as one of the world’s greatest dancers.
Galina Mezentseva’s accomplishments on stage have not gone unnoticed. Besides performing at all of the worlds major Opera houses, such as La Scala, New York’s Metropolitan Opera, The Royal Opera House (Covent Garden), and the Bolshoi Theater, she has also garnered accolades such as the First Prize Laureate Award of the International Ballet Competition, Honored Artist of Russia, a Gold Medal at the prestigious International World Ballet Competition, and The People’s Artist of Russia, which is Russia’s highest cultural honor.
After retiring from Dance, Mezentseva relocated to London, and then to the United States, where she occasionally performed at various Ballet Companies. Widely considered in Russia as the greatest Dancer of her generation, Mezentseva’s grace, poise, and balance, coupled with her beautiful appearance and ability to act, helped her to not only secure a unparalleled legacy with the Ballet community and hypnotize audiences the world over, but also become an iconic symbol of both Russian Dance and the Kirov Ballet Company’s commitment to excellence.
Alla Sizova Biography
Born in Moscow, Alla Sizova’s family relocated to Leningrad (Saint Petersburg) early in her life, where she studied at the Vaganova School with the distinguished teacher Natalia Kamkova. After performing as the Queen of the Dryads in “Don Quixote,” she was given a chance to perform with a young, up-and-coming Rudolf Nureyev in the pas de deux from “Le Corsaire,” subsequently becoming the focus of much praise for fluidity and technical precision.
The high praise from the performance led to a tour of festivals in Moscow and Vienna, which in turn led the two dancers to skip the Kirov’s corps de Ballet, stepping directly into the roles of the first soloists. Their partnership and prominent rise to the elite of the Company was viewed as a symbol of change towards the next generation at the Kirov, until Nureyev's defection in 1961.
Originally Sizova was focused on roles mostly demanding her classical technique, but as her career blossomed, the dramatic side of her dancing proved equally adapt at expressing her abilities. Her performances alongside legendary Russian dancers such as Yuri Soloviev and Mikhail Baryshnikov only solidified her star power as she captivated audiences worldwide.
Now considered a national hero, she was recognized as People's Artist of the USSR in 1983. Five years and numerous other accolades later, Alla Sizova ended her storied career, retired from professional dancing in 1988, subsequently accepting a teaching position at the Vaganova School. Since 1990, at the invitation of former Kirov Ballet Director Oleg Vinogradov, she has been teaching in Washington DC.