Testimonials / Press

Company Directors

“…. I can state without hesitation, that there is no finer, more expert master of classical ballet on the planet…. Her unbelievable knowledge (which she can effectively and clearly communicate to everyone), her infectious good humor and wit, her kindness and good-will, all end up to make her a beacon of the ballet world. “ 

Tory Dobrin, Artistic Director, Les Ballets Trockadero

“Elena Kunikova is a gifted and important, artist.  She is a kind and detail-oriented teacher who knows how to guide students and professionals alike to a greater and stronger technique and artistry.  As a stager, coach and choreographer, Elena has an encyclopedic knowledge of ballet and ballet history but she never gets stuck in the past because she knows that ballet is a living breathing art form that must always progress. Elena has a genius for bringing out the best in every artist she works with.” 

Adam Sklute,  Artistic Director, Ballet West

Elena Kunikova is a unique teacher.  A graduate of the Vaganova Academy and a former ballerina of one of the best ballet companies in St. Petersburg, Elena is combining classical Russian tradition with the best achievements of Western ballet.  Elena shows a combination of impeccable taste, a very detailed approach to every element, knowledge of various styles and techniques, attention to artistry, and these are just a few tools in her toolbox.  

Andian Fadeev, Principal Dancer of Mariinsky Ballet (former), Artistic Director, Yakobson Ballet Theatre

“Elena is one of the most gifted and generous dance artists I have encountered. Her work as a stager and guest teacher with Kansas City Ballet was thorough, inspired and delivered with enthusiasm and good humor. I heartily recommend her.”

William Whitener Artistic Director, Kansas City Ballet (1996-2013)

Critics

“Seen here in her American debut, Miss Kunikova proved to be a fascinating performer.”

Jennifer Dunning, New York Times

“In Paquita staged by Elena Kunikova…everything was right…the phrasing the musicality, even the eyes… here was real Russian style…”

Lynn Garaforla, Dance Magazine

“Kunikova has been a superb coach and pedagogue in America for many years, drawing on her experience first as a student and then as a leading dancer [at Mikhailovsky Theatre]; she’s been particularly successful staging 19th-century Russian classics for the Trocks, somehow marrying her immaculate renditions of obscure ballets to the company’s parodic predilection. In other words, she’s a treasure.”

Robert Gottlieb, New York Observer

“The Trocks deliver Petipa’s great divertissement with more wit and vivacity than most serious ballet companies.  Their Paquita staging by Elena Kunikova is immaculate, a faithful rendition.”

Debra Craine, The Times, London

“For the Divertimento …under the Vaganova-trained Kunikova’s guidance, the six performers found a fascinating world of custom and belief in the steps, which the choreographer had stitched together so that a smoothly inevitable phrase would snag on a sweet surprise.”

Apollinaire Scherr, Financial Times

“Elena Kunikova’s “Divertimento”—a three-couple, 16-minute display to music by Mikhail Glinka … aimed to showcase ballet’s classically strict vocabulary with some wit and finesse.”

Robert Greskovic,  The Wall Street Journal

…The highlights of  the program were the most purely classical performances – in “The Flames of Paris” pas de deux, “La Cachucha” and the Pas de Six from “Esmeralda” [all staged by Elena Kunikova] – where comedy grew naturally from heartfelt dancing.”

Jeniffer Dunning, New York Times

“Elena Kunikova’s “Divertimento” … was a tight-packed anthology of prettily spectacular effects from the classical ballet lexicon…. Set to Glinka’s “Divertimento Brillante” … and costumed by Ms. Kunikova with the tutus and tunics of ballet tradition, it gave its dancers opportunities to shine in both adagio and allegro, with appealing touches for both upper and lower body.”

Alastair Macaulay, The New York Times

“Expertly re-staged by Elena Kunikova, Frescoes was danced with pristine period accuracy, yet imbued with a bright contemporary attack.”

Lisa Jo Sagolla, Kansas City Star

“…The grand pas classique from “Paquita” …. clear, clean, sparkling, refreshing as an alpine brook. The staging, by Elena Kunikova, perhaps best known in New York for her settings of the Imperial repertory for the Trocks, was first performed by Ballet West a few months ago. Bits and pieces made it into the TV series [Breaking Pointe]. Kunikova and the dancers got two things marvelously right. This “Paquita” is alive and breathing …Exhilarating.”

Carol Pardo, danceviewtimes

“Frescoes, [staged and coached by Elena Kunikova] is a visually intriguing piece…The four dancers make the Saint-Leon/Petipa choreography into something scintillating.”

Paul Horsley, The Independent, Kansas City

Students

With Violeta Angelova and Matthew Prescott after Nutcracker rehearsal.
Dancers of Ballet West waiving to Elena after Paquita Zoom-rehearsal (posted on Instagram by Becanne Sisk)

“I wish I could have studied with Elena Kunikova when I was young.  With her fluid grace she could have shown me how ballet was meant to look. As a teacher, Elena is beautiful, inspirational and generous.  She has a perceptive eye, a great knowledge of dance, and…gorgeous leaps!”

Allegra Kent, Principal Dancer (former), New York City Ballet

“I admire Elena’s ability to combine in her class the best achievements of both Old and New Worlds…”

Mikko Nissenen, Principal Dancer San Francisco Ballet (former), Artistic Director, Boston Ballet

“ We love Elena’s class because it has all the important elements: they are strengthening, though very musical and danceable; they help turn-out and coordination.  Having danced all classical repertory all around the world, we always come back to Elena’s class for cleaning, inspiration and advice based on her great professional experience.”

Irina Dvorovenko and Maxim Belotserkovsky, American Ballet Theatre

“Elena has motivated and inspired our students to further pursue their dreams in dance, specially have helped in putting the finishing touches in their variations where they did very well in Competitions.”  

Effi Nanas, School Director, Effi Nanas Ballet, Philippines

“…Kunikova loves nurturing young people… she may ask your name and give you special corrections… Don’t pass up the chance to learn the nuances and the artistry that you could never pick up from a mere video.”

Sondra Forsythe, Danceart

”…Elena is the best teacher I have had… I am transformed for that 1 ½ hour with Elena and feel very lucky to have this zoom experience with her.  I think she does it better than anyone.”

Regina Axelrod, dancer, choreographer, and presently a professor of Political Studies at Adelphi University

“Elena is a great teacher…she offers wonderful training for everyone, from beginner to the most seasoned professional dancer.  Her class is both a challenge and a joy…”

Nadine Lavi, dance writer

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