Ninel Kurgapkina

Ninel Kurgapkina

Ninel Alexandrovna Kurgapkina (Russian: Нинель Александровна Кургапкина; 13 February 1929, Leningrad – 8 May 2009, near St. Petersburg) was a Russian dance teacher and former prima ballerina for the Kirov Ballet with over 50 years stage experience. She was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1974.

Ninel Kurgapkina was one of the last pupils of Agrippina Vaganova. She graduated her ballet school and joined the Kirov Ballet in 1947, where she danced such roles as Aurora (The Sleeping Beauty), Myrtha (Giselle), Odette-Odile (Swan Lake), Kitri (Don Quixote) and Parasha (The Bronze Horseman). She was appointed a director of the Vaganova Academy in 1972.

Despite their age difference, Ninel Kurgapkina was the first female ballet partner to Rudolf Nureyev, and later Mikhail Baryshnikov, both of whom were trained at the Kirov.

From 1969 she was a primary coach at the Kirov and has taught master classes at institutions including the New York City Ballet, the Paris Opera Ballet, and the La Scala Opera Ballet. She was an Associate Ballet Mistress at the Masterpiece Dance Theatre since 1994.


She died, aged 80, in a road accident near St. Petersburg, on 8 May 2009.

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