Register Your Cart

Media about us

“In America, they don’t put in the time with individual dancers the way we do, it’s more about the company as a whole”


“In America, they don’t put in the time with individual dancers the way we do, it’s more about the company as a whole”

Tatiana Legat, Honoured Artist of Russia and répétiteur at the Mikhailovsky Theatre, is celebrating her birthday. Representing a legendary dynasty in the world of ballet, she embodies the unbroken connection between modern theatre and the traditions of the imperial stage. Tatiana gave an interview to Izvestia.

“Was there ever a possibility that you might end up in a profession other than ballet? Or was everything predetermined by the very fact of your birth into a family with such a legacy?”

“My grandmother used to tell me (I don’t remember my mother; she died during the Siege of Leningrad) that as a young child I was already dancing and singing all the time, even during the siege, when I was just in kindergarten. My grandmother enrolled me in a ballet school in 1943. When Agrippina Vaganova [the director of the Leningrad Choreographic School — ed.] returned from Perm, where the school had been evacuated, I remember how she cried and hugged my grandmother and me. She had never dreamed that she would see us alive.
My life couldn’t have turned out any other way. I have spent my entire life in the theatre: 30 years at the Mariinsky Theatre; 10 years in Moscow at the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theatre; then, almost 20 years in Boston — immersed in ballet the whole time, without a single break. Then I suddenly got a call from Mikhail Messerer [Ballet Master in Chief at the Mikhailovsky Theatre — ed.]. I didn’t know him particularly well, just from a distance, but I came rushing back, and a month later I was back for good. I feel very at home in St. Petersburg, at the Mikhailovsky Theatre.”

“Tell us about the Legat ballet dynasty. What is it like representing a family like that?”

“I realize now that I ought to have asked my grandmother more about it when I was young. There’s a lot that we will never know. My mother, Maria, died when she was very young. My grandfather was Nikolai Legat. My grandmother — her maiden name was Chumakova — was also a dancer. It so happens that we are currently rehearsing La Bayadère, in which she danced the first of the three variations as one of the Shades Trio alongside Vaganova and Trefilova. I know that my grandfather’s grandmother was a Frenchwoman called Constance Lidet, who danced in Paris at the Grand Opera.
And my great-great-grandfather was a Swede. How did they meet? I think they danced together, my great-great-grandparents. My great-grandfather, Gustav Legat, graduated from a theatre school here in St. Petersburg, after which he was sent with his wife, Maria Granken, to Moscow to set up the Bolshoi Theatre and the Moscow School of Ballet. In those days, you were educated in St. Petersburg and then sent elsewhere, not the other way around. Although I am convinced that to this day, ours is a unique school of ballet, with excellent instructors.”

“So Gustav Legat was the founder of a Russian ballet dynasty?”

“Yes. My great-grandparents had 13 children. My grandfather Nikolai, his brothers Sergei and Ivan, his sisters Vera (later to become Countess Shuvalova) and Evgenia all worked at the Mariinsky Theatre. I’ve seen costumes there labelled Legat 1, Legat 2, Legat 4. I even came across some gloves. My grandfather took a lot of the articles with him to London. He left Russia in 1922, initially joining Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, teaching alongside Enrico Cecchetti. But he found it hard working with such a diverse company, and he moved to London. There he set up his own studio, which later became a school, and taught ballet greats like Ninette de Valois, Alicia Markova, and Anton Dolin, who subsequently went on to open their own schools. He died in London and was buried there. I’ve visited his grave.”

“When did you realize that you wanted and were able to teach?”

“It was all my teachers’ doing. Perhaps because I was Nikolai Legat’s granddaughter, they doted over me. I was at a boarding school — almost like an orphanage — and Lidia Tyuntina [a teacher at the Leningrad Choreographic School — ed.] took me under her wing. She was in charge of placing young children in productions. She got me into everything, and I danced my heart out. She even sewed the frocks for my exam. We went around in brown flannel dresses. We didn’t go outside in the winter because we had nothing warm to wear on our feet. The times were hard, but they were good time all the same. Our teachers were, I suppose, fanatical about their work and taught us discipline and love for what we did, which we in turn seek to pass on to the next generation.

“You taught at the Boston Ballet for a long time. What are the respective strengths of Russian and American dancers?”

“If you go to a competition and see good hands, the dancer is likely from a Russian school or has a Russian instructor. The ballet education in America is not that great. They are very particular about the steps and precision, but not about style. They don’t put in the time to achieve a particular form, like we do; it’s more about the company as a whole. But the Boston facility is magnificent. Bruce Marks, to give him his due, created all the right conditions.
I started working there when Sergeyev and Dudinskaya brought over Swan Lake, Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, and La Bayadère. Back then, I was busy with both the school and the theatre at the same time and practically never left the building. I don’t leave the building here, either. I try to help out everywhere I can. It’s become more difficult, but this is what I live and breathe. My husband was a ballet dancer [People’s Artist of the USSR Yuri Soloviev — ed.], my daughter is a ballet dancer, and her husband is also a ballet dancer. My grandchildren are not ballet dancers; they still need to work out what they want to do with their lives.”

“What have been the biggest changes in the ballet world in recent times?”

“For a long time, we didn’t travel at all, although we didn’t mind that. The main thing was the work. After years of working in the theatre, I’ve seen everyone there is to see. But now, when I talk to the girls about Lyubov Voishnis, they don’t even know who she is. Of course, they know about Shelest and Dudinskaya. But I was there to see Tatiana Vecheslova dance, and I remember Feya Balabina. I even danced with Chabukiani and Dudinskaya in Laurencia. It’s pure joy for a girl to find herself in such company. I also danced with Nureyev in Laurencia, but in Vienna. And I helped out Misha Baryshnikov by dancing the She-devil in La Création du Monde at his recital evening in 1974.”

“One of your crowning roles was Zlyuka in Konstantin Sergeyev’s production of Cinderella. Are your pupils able to imagine you in this kind of role? Word has it that you are exceptionally kind to your girls.”

“I rehearse with the entire corps de ballet. Everyone knows that this is the hardest thing to do, and no one wants to do it. You must hold the line, whilst having your legs perfectly turned out at the correct angle and staying in time with the music. Every day, it’s the same drill. A corps de ballet dancer’s work is hard, but essential. There is no theatre without the corps de ballet.
I think our corps de ballet is just about beginning to come into its own. The girls are so lithe, graceful, and energetic! Our girls have good form. I work hard on them, but without shouting. I go up to them, talk, and explain how I used to do it. And I feel that bit by bit I am winning them over. Being strict is all well and good, but you have to love them.”



1.1.    This User Agreement (hereinafter referred to as the Agreement) defines the procedure for accessing the website of the St. Petersburg State Funded Cultural Institution, the St. Petersburg Mussorgsky State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre Mikhailovsky Theatre (hereinafter referred to as the Mikhailovsky Theatre) located at the domain

1.2. This Agreement regulates the relationship between the Mikhailovsky Theatre and the users of this website.


2.1. For the purposes of this Agreement, the terms indicated below shall have the following meaning:

2.1.2. Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators those employees authorized to manage the website, acting on behalf of the Mikhailovsky Theatre.

2.1.3. User of the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site (hereinafter the User) a person having access to and using the website via the Internet.

2.1.4. Site the Mikhailovsky Theatre website located at the domain

2.1.5. Content of the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site the protected results of intellectual activity, including extracts from audiovisual productions, their names, forewords, annotations, articles, illustrations and covers, with or without text, graphic, textual, photographic, derived, composite, and other works, user interfaces, visual interfaces, logos, and also the design, structure, selection, coordination, external appearance, general style, and placement of the Content making up the Site and other intellectual property whether together and/or separately contained in the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site and the Personal Area, from where it is then possible to purchase Mikhailovsky Theatre tickets.


3.1. The subject of this Agreement is the provision to the User of access to the services available on the Site.

3.1.1. The Mikhailovsky Theatre Site shall provide the following services to the User:

- access to information about the Mikhailovsky Theatre and information about how to purchase tickets

- purchase of electronic tickets

- discounts, promotions, concessions, and special offers

- receipt of information about Theatre news and events, including via news and information distribution services (email, phone, text message)

- access to electronic content, with the right to view such content

- access to search and navigation tools

- the opportunity to post messages and comments

- other services provided through the pages of the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site

3.2. This Agreement covers all services existing (or functioning) at the present time on the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site, and any subsequent modifications to them and additional services which may appear in the future.

3.2. Access to the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site shall be provided free of charge.

3.3. This Agreement is a public offer. In obtaining access to the Site, the User shall be deemed to have opted in to this Agreement.

3.4. Use of the materials and services on the Site shall be governed by the provisions of current Russian Federation legislation.


4.1. The Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators shall have the right:

4.1.1. To change the rules for use of the Site and to change the Content of the Site. Changes to usage rules shall enter into force from the moment the new version of the Agreement is published on the Site.

4.2. The User shall have the right:

4.2.1. User registration on the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site shall be for the purpose of identifying the User in order to provide Site services, distribute information and news (by email, post, telephone, text message, or other means), and to obtain feedback and a record of the provision of concessions, discounts, special offers, and promotions.

4.2.2. To use all of the services available on the Site.

4.2.3. To ask any questions relating to the information presented on the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site.

4.2.4. To use the Site solely for the purposes and in the manner provided for by this Agreement and not prohibited by Russian Federation legislation.

4.3. The User shall:

4.3.2. Take no action which may be considered to be in breach of the normal functioning of the Site.

4.3.3. Avoid any actions which may result in a breach of confidentiality with regard to information protected by Russian Federation legislation.

4.4. The User may not:

4.4.1. Use any device, program, procedure, algorithm or method, automated devices, or similar manual processes in order to access, acquire, copy, or track the Content of the Site.

4.4.3. Circumvent in any way the navigational structure of the Site in order to obtain or attempt to obtain any information, documents, or material by any means which are expressly not provided by the Site services;

4.4.4. Breach the security or authentication systems of the Site or any network associated with the Site. Carry out reverse searches, track, or attempt to track any information about any other User of the Site.


5.1. The Site and the Content contained therein belong to and are managed by the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators.

5.2. The Content of the Site may not be published, reproduced, transferred, or distributed by any means, nor posted on the worldwide networks of the Internet without the written consent of the Site Administrators.

5.5. The User shall be personally responsible for the confidentiality of the information in his/her account, including his/her password, and for all activity, without exception, which is carried out on behalf of the User of the account.

5.6. The User must immediately notify the Site Administrators of any unauthorized use of his/her account or password, or of any other breach of the security system.


6.1. Losses which the User may suffer in the event of a deliberate or negligent breach of any provision of this Agreement, or as a consequence of unauthorized access to the communications of any other User, shall not be reimbursed by the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators.

6.2. The Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators shall not be liable for:

6.2.1. Delays or malfunctions in the process of carrying out operations arising as a result of force majeure circumstances, nor for any faults in the telecommunications, computer, electronic, or other related systems.

6.2.2. The actions of banking, transfer, and payment systems, nor for delays connected with their operation.

6.2.3. Improper functioning of the Site in cases where the User does not have the technical equipment required for its use, nor do the Administrators accept any obligation to provide Users with such equipment.


7.1. The Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators shall have the right to terminate and/or block access to the Site, without prior notice to the User, if the User has breached this Agreement or the terms of use of the Site contained in other documents, or in the event of the Site ceasing to function, or due to technical glitches or problems.

7.2. The Site Administrators shall not be liable to the User or third parties for termination of access to the Site in the event of a breach by the User of any of the provisions of this Agreement or any other document containing the terms of use of this Site.

7.3. The Site Administrators shall have the right to disclose any information about the User as may be necessary for the execution of the provisions of current legislation or judicial rulings.


8.1. In the event of any disagreements or disputes arising between the Parties to this Agreement, a mandatory condition before resorting to the courts is that a claim should be submitted (a written proposal for voluntary resolution of the dispute).

8.2. The recipient of the claim shall, within 30 calendar days of receipt, notify the claimant in writing of the results of consideration of the claim.

8.3. If it is not possible to settle the dispute by voluntary means, either Party may apply to the courts for protection of their rights as provided for under current Russian Federation legislation.


9.1. In opting in to this Agreement and leaving his/her information on the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site by completing the registration form, the User:

9.1.1. Consents to the processing of the following personal information: full name; date of birth; telephone number; email address; payment details (if the service is used to purchase electronic tickets to the Mikhailovsky Theatre);

9.1.2. Confirms that this personal information belongs to him/her personally;

9.1.3. Gives the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators the right to carry out, without limit in time, the following actions (operations) with his/her personal information:

- collection and accumulation

- storage for an unlimited period of time (indefinitely) from the moment that the information is provided until it is recalled by the User by means of an application to the Site Administrators

- clarification (renewal, modification)

- destruction

9.2. The User's personal information shall be processed in accordance with Article 6.1.5 of Federal Law No. 152-FZ dated 27.07.2006 On Personal Information, solely for the purposes of performing the obligations accepted by the Mikhailovsky Theatre Site Administrators under this Agreement with respect to the User, including those indicated in clause 3.1.1 of this Agreement.

9.3. The User accepts and confirms that all of the provisions of this Agreement and the terms of processing his/her personal information are understood by him/her, and expresses his/her consent with the terms of processing his/her personal information without reservation or limitation. The Users consent to the processing of his/her personal information is specific, informed, and conscious.