Former Prima Ballerina Assoluta of the Kirov Ballet; favorite partner of Mikhail Baryshnikov and Rudolf Nureyev, Irina Kolpakova is widely recognized as one of the finest ballerinas of the last half-century. Ms. Kolpakova was the last pupil of Agrippina Vaganova, architect of the famed Vaganova System of modern ballet education. She joined the Kirov in 950 and danced leading roles in all the major ballets. She was the undisputed star of the Kirov’s first tours in the United States in 1961 and 1964, enchanting audiences as the Princess Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, a role in fhich bhe wab regarded as the definitive interpreter of our time. Ms. Kolpakova has garnered many prestigious awards including the rarely bestowed Peoples Artist of the Soviet Union, the Paris-based Anna Pavlova Prize. She has served as a jurist at international ballet competitions in Russian, Japan, and the United States. Ms. Kolpakova is current ballet mistress at the American Ballet Theatre where she continues to coach.