The Bronx

2 Pearl Lane

New City, NY 10956

Contact Info



Mon - Fri 10:00 AM - 9:00 PM

NYBI is a pre-professional and professional ballet institute dedicated to the teaching and mastery of the classical ballet using the methodology of Agrippina Vaganova, Alexander Pushkin, and others, as formulated in the Vaganova State Choreographers Academy and the Leningrad Conservatory Dance Department, circa 1952. Artistic Director, Ilya Gaft was trained in the Vaganova Academy, where ballet luminaries have also been trained for nearly 300 years.

Moving from the Franco-Russian style of teaching of Lande, Hilverding, Valburg (Russian), and with an Italian force bravura of Canziani, Russian choreography, music, set design, acting, theatrical, effects, and ballet dancing went through rapid periods of development. Didelot came to teach, Perrot produced Giselle and Esmeralda, Leon’s Coppelia, and even Christiansen (Bournonville) and Cecchetti came to Russia to live and work. Petipa came and during his tenure, 46 full-length ballets were created for the Imperial Ballet. These ballets, choreographers, musicians and dancers, etc., came together and formed The Golden Age of Russian Ballet, but largely as we know classical ballet, these works represent the core of classical ballet, performed by all ballet companies of the world. From this pedagogical line came Fokine, then came many more, such as Karsavina, Pavlova and Nijinsky, Nijinska, Balanchine, and others, who danced, and choreographed, both in and outside of Russia. Students of the famed academy continue in the same vein to graduate, and have gone on to illustrious careers defining recent important periods of ballet with impeccable technique, magnificent virtuosity, and rare artistry. Dancers such as Nureyev, Baryshnikov, Semeonova, Shelest, Makarova, and even today Vishneva, Lopatkina, Obratsova, Somova, and many others carry on the teachings and high standards of the pure Russian ballet method and style. Due to her creative teaching methods, refinement of the existing syllabus, and special methods which Agrippina Vaganova instituted into the curriculum, it is possible to pass on this traditional style, and produce other new generations of artists of the grand style. Perhaps the greatest male teacher known today, Alexander Pushkin (Gaft, Nureyev, Baryshnikov), also taught at the Leningrad Academy until after Vaganova’s death in 1951 when the school was renamed for its Director.

Many of these great dancers have emerged, spread their artistic wings, and taken flight, so that all over the world Vaganova technique is probably the most recognized ballet variant. Wherever true Vaganova technique is taught, its Masters strive to adhere to the classical heritage of Russian ballet. The Vaganova Academy has also produced dancers, teachers, and choreographers associated with some of the most renowned ballet companies in the world: The Kirov, The Bolshoi, countless European and South American, Asian, African, Australian, and American companies copy its style, re-stage its ballets, and teach Vaganova-based technique. Petipa’s ballet classics alone, and the recognizable sounds of Tchaikovsky, are just two of the many indelible examples of original brilliance, which mark the St. Petersburg ballet tradition as clearly as its notable dancers have done and continue to do. These artists, who left Russia, at various times, shared the magnitude of their uniquely brilliant gifts with the world, have become household words equal to greatness. Russia produces great fine artists of every nomenclature, but one of its chief exotic exports is ballet, even today. The New York Ballet Institute, and its director, Ilya Gaft, a former Principal dancer with the Kirov, are firmly committed to these strictly cultivated ideals of artistry, discipline and the art of classical ballet. It is a rich and mysterious history of small details, gestures, bravura, formality, humility and etiquette, which learned correctly, and practiced diligently, will result in superior individual artistry. It was with these exact precepts in mind, and by continuing to pass on this rich legacy with the specific goal of instilling it into the generations of future ballet performers of tomorrow, that Ilya and Zoya Gaft founded NYBI in 1989. Ilya Gaft also founded the Ilya Gaft Dance Theatre, as a non-profit corporation, as both vehicle to perpetuate the great choreographed works of the classical ballet repertory and for the unveiling of a myriad of new works in the classical ballet style.

~Formidable technique is the servant of dramatic expression (Ilya Gaft)

The New York Ballet Institute

Past Events


NYBI Summer Intensive