Celebrating Women’s History Month with SAB’s Historic Faculty
March is Women’s History Month and as such, we thought it only fitting to highlight a few of the SAB’s pioneering female faculty members who inspired so many students over the years! Read on for pictures from our archives and a few fun facts about each of these legendary teachers.
Muriel Stuart was among the initial faculty at the School along with co-founder George Balanchine, Pierre Vladimiroff and Dorothie Littlefield. An English dancer who had performed with Anna Pavlova, she was noted for her lyricism and was an accomplished, beloved teacher.
George Balanchine’s schoolmate in St. Petersburg, Madame Danilova had a long, successful dancing career before joining the SAB faculty in 1964. Her knowledge of the Petipa style and repertoire was unparalleled, a legacy she passed on to the many young women she taught.
One of her many contributions to SAB was establishing the tradition of a year-end performance for the School’s advanced students, creating an opportunity for them to participate in professionally staged, publicly performed productions of classic ballet works. The premiere “Workshop” performance included the first act of “Coppélia” and closely resembled the graduation exercises in which both she and Balanchine participated at the Imperial Ballet.
Madame Tumkovsky had been a pupil of Agrippina Vaganova, and joined SAB’s faculty in 1949. “Tumey” (as she was known) would teach three generations of dancers during her time at SAB. Her classes were exciting and challenging as she pushed the stamina of her students to the outer limits. She retired in 2003 at the age of ninety-eight.
Madame Doubrovska trained at St. Petersburg’s Imperial School of Ballet before she joined Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, where Balanchine created major roles for her. She went on to become one of the most significant teachers of her time, joining the SAB’s faculty in 1948. Known as an inspiring instructor who always expected excellence, Madame Doubrovska taught the Advanced girls’ classes at SAB, passing on her expertise to three generations of students before she retired in 1980 at the age of eighty-four.