Larissa Ponomarenko

Fairy-like and technically flawless, Larissa Ponomarenko is a ballerina’s ballerina. She began her studies at the Vaganova Ballet Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia, winning third prize at the first Vaganova Ballet Competition in 1988, and went on to join the Donetsk Ballet Company in her native Ukraine. After brief stints as a guest artist with Tulsa Ballet and Ballet Mississippi, Larissa landed at Boston Ballet in 1993. Since then she has become one of Boston’s most beloved ballerinas, dancing nearly every principal role in the company’s repertoire. Her nuanced interpretation of Marguerite in Val Caniparoli’s Lady of the Camellias even won her a nomination for the International Ballet Prize at Benois de la Danse in 2005.  —Margaret Fuhrer

Dear Larissa,

I would like to start by saying, “Thank you.”

Though I consider myself a modest person, I must admit you are a very good student (the kind of student I would wish to work with if I were to move into the field of teaching). You are obedient and self-disciplined, absorbing details and attentive to corrections. You never miss class, and you take good care of your body. You spend a lot of time in the theater watching all the classical ballets in the Kirov repertory. Your analysis of the interpretations of different dancers has helped me become the artist I am today.

All of it, in combination, I believe, allows you to get the most out of the great training your ballet school [the Vaganova Academy in St. Petersburg, Russia] has to offer. This is why I would like to express my gratitude to you, my student self.

But I do wish that you would be more daring and confident in everything. It wouldn’t hurt to be more curious about different genres and forms of art—to explore more outside of the ballet. And find the time to continue your piano lessons! You don’t have much interest in it now, but you have talent and that is precious.

Finally, I want you to add more of a sense of humor and laughter to all your hard work, to love yourself, and to live every minute of your life to the fullest.


Larissa Ponomarenko


16-year-old Larissa performing the Bluebird variation from The Sleeping Beauty at the Vaganova Academy. Photo: courtesy of Boston Ballet

Latest Posts

Because there's never been a better time to binge-watch "Bunheads" (via Freeform)

5 of the Danciest TV Shows Streaming Right Now (and Where to Stream Them)

We're about two months into #SocialDisDancing, and let's be real—while we all wish we were spending every spare minute stretching, cross-training, or taking online classes, sometimes we just need to Netflix and chill.

We figure, if you're going to be watching TV anyways, why not make it dancy TV? After all, watching pros dance on-screen is basically dance class homework...or at least we'll say it is. Here are five of the danciest TV shows for you to watch—and where to find them.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS
The cast of Center Stage in a promotional poster (courtesy Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)

The Making of "Center Stage," as Remembered by Its Dance Stars

Whether you first watched it in a theater two decades ago or on Netflix last week, odds are you feel a deep connection to Center Stage. The cult classic, which premiered May 12, 2000, is arguably the greatest dance film ever made. (Dance obsessives might take issue with the "cult" before "classic," not to mention the "dance" before "film.") Jody Sawyer's ballet journey—which combines oh-wow-I've-had-those-blisters realism with wait-does-she-have-magic-color-changing-pointe-shoes fantasy—stands the test of time, early-aughts fashion be darned. We've memorized its highly quotable lines, laughed with (and, gently, at) its heroes, and been inspired by its sincere love of dance and dancers.

To celebrate Center Stage's 20th anniversary, we asked five of its dance stars to talk through their memories of the filming process. Here are their stories of on-set bonding, post-puke kissing scenes, and life imitating art imitating life.

Keep Reading SHOW LESS

2020 Dance Grads: We Want to Put You on Our Cover!

Hello, all you members of the great Dance Class of 2020. With the world on lockdown, this hasn't been the graduation season you expected. You likely weren't able to go to prom; your commencement ceremonies have probably been delayed or canceled; and you might not have been able to take your planned-for final bow onstage.

Since you're missing out on so much, we'd like to give you a virtual ovation, to recognize all you've accomplished. And what's the highest honor we can bestow? The cover of Dance Spirit!

Here's the plan:

  • If you're a high school or college senior dancer, use this form to submit your information and dance portrait.
  • Each day during the month of May, we'll create a digital Dance Spirit cover starring one of you, chosen at random—31 covers in total.
  • At the end of the month, we'll create a "commencement video" featuring even more of your submitted dance photos.
  • 100 of you, selected by lottery, will also receive free one-year subscriptions to the print magazine.

Merde, 2020 graduates, as you dance your way into the future!

High School and College Senior Dancers: Submit Your Photo Here

Editors' Picks

Enter the Cover Model Search