The history of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy dates back to 1773 when fine arts including dance were added to the curriculum of the Moscow Foundling Home founded in 1763 per the Order of Empress Catherine II of Russia.
Filippo Beccari, an Italian instructor, was first invited to teach the art of dancing to 26 little girls and 28 boys. Four-hour-long lessons were held four times a week. The talented Russian orphans quickly mastered the subtleties of the foreign art of dance and six years later Leopold Paradis, another famous foreigner, produced his first group of graduates. His students joined the Petrovsky Theatre Company (today’s Bolshoi).
The folk aka «character» dance has always been held in high regard by the Moscow school – the studies have been exhaustive, and character dancers have always been in demand at the Bolshoi. There was also a rapid development in classical ballet. It was the Russian interpretation of La Sylphide that many eyewitnesses gave preference to, seeing it as the one representing «the soul of Russian ballet».
In the end of 1880s, after passing of a new Statute by which the Moscow Imperial Ballet School was renamed The Moscow School of Ballet, Jose Mendez began to train his students including Ekaterina Geltser, the future prima ballerina, in the novelties of the virtuoso Italian school. He nurtured strong toe and pirouette techniques, as well as balance and stage presence sense while carefully maintaining the overall musicality of the performance for which the Moscow school had always been renowned.
In the 1930s the famous figures from the Petersburg ballet world joined the faculty of the School: Elizaveta Gerdt, Aleksandr Chekrygin, Viktor Semyonov and Mariya Kozhukhova moved to Moscow where their efforts helped nurture a galaxy of great ballerinas and superb male premier dancers. Later Marina Semyonova worked at the School.
In 1933 Olga Lepeshinskaya, the brilliant virtuoso, graduated from the School.
During World War II the School produced two star graduates: Maya Plisetskaya (1943) and Raisa Struchkova (1944). And in late 50s – early 60s the Moscow Ballet School graduates, Ekaterina Maximova (1958) and Natalia Bessmertnova (1961), began their careers.
In 1960 – 2001 Sophia Golovkina led and managed the Moscow Ballet School. Since 2002 the Bolshoi Ballet Academy has been ably led by the former leading Bolshoi performer Marina Leonova (Rector, PeopleТs Artist of Russia, Professor).
There are world famous ballet performers among the graduates of the Bolshoi Ballet Academy: V. Malakhov, A.Uvarov, N.Tsiskaridze, S.Lunkina, N.Osipova, etc.