Artistic Directors

Palermo Ballet Summer Intensive:


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Ballet Master
of Boston Ballet,
Principal Dancer
for full 18 years

Palermo Ballet Summer Intensive is proud to present Larissa Ponomarenko, the program’s Artistic Director. Adored by Company members and students alike, Larissa is in charge of putting together a world-class Faculty of our program and will be teaching many of the classes herself (stay tuned for the upcoming Classes Schedule!) 


Teaching correct shoulder placement


Ponomarenko joined Boston Ballet's artistic staff as Ballet Master in 2011. 


In Boston Ballet’s Swan Lake, photographed by the veteran ballet photographer Gene Schiavone


A graduate of St. Petersburg’s famed Vaganova Ballet Academy and a student of Soviet Prima Ballerina Ninel Kurgapkina of Kirov Ballet, Ponomarenko became Boston Ballet's Principal Dancer in 1993, after dancing with Ukraine's Donetsk Ballet as well as Mississippi and Tulsa ballet companies. Ponomarenko remained Boston Ballet’s Prima Ballerina for full 18 years.


Ponomarenko enthusiastically showing a barre combination in a recent 2017 MasterClass


“I was lucky to take a series of Larissa Ponomarenko's MasterClasses and to be invited to take her company class with Boston Ballet. Her effortless arm movements as she showed us the combinations were breathtaking to watch. Every step she made demonstrated a level of artistry and elegance I aspire to. After Larissa's class the fluidity of my arm movement improved significantly and I gained a better understanding of the artistry I can present on stage,” says 16 y.o. alumna Hannah Baugher.


Teaching Boston Ballet company class in 2011


“Larissa's artistic talent to express emotion through dance is awe-inspiring. Her devotion to Art is astounding and her ability to show us the importance of all the intricate details that comprise a role is very powerful,” says 15 y.o. Madeline Glinski, Level 5 student and the Russian Pointe Brand Ambassador.


Paying particular attention to arms is Ms. Ponomarenko’s specialty. Practicing the Aurora variation with Madeline Glinski, IBT student and the Russian Pointe Brand Ambassador



Demonstrating an arabesque to young Level 4 students


"I owe everything to my teachers. I mean, I owe everything to everybody, but my teachers were incredible," Larissa told The Boston Globe in 2011, on the occasion of becoming a Ballet Master with Boston Ballet. 


Reaching for better lines: students learn the importance of artistry in a repertoire class


“I had a wonderful opportunity to work with Larissa in a repertoire class where we learned John Neumeier’s Romeo and Juliet, my favorite ballet of all time. Larissa explained the artistic and technical aspects along with the story, so that we could better embody the characters,” says 15 y.o. Rory Myers, Level 5 student and a Gaynor Girl.


Ponomarenko's versatile repertoire included Odette and Odile in Swan Lake, Kitri in Don Quixote, Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty, Juliet in Romeo and Juliet, Tatiana in Onegin, Kate in the Taming of the Shrew, the title roles in Giselle and Cinderella, Medora in Le Corsaire, Swanhilda in Coppélia, Nikiya in La Bayadère, and countless others.


“Giselle dies of a broken heart. Ponomarenko may come close to breaking yours,” The Boston Globe wrote on the occasion of her Giselle premier. 



Larissa Ponomarenko in the leading role of Tatiana in John Cranko’s Onegin: with Gael Lambiotte as Onegin (left) and Viktor Plotnikov, her husband in real life, as the old Prince Gremin (right)


Boston Ballet's Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen commented to The Boston Globe about Larissa's opening-night Tatiana in John Cranko's Onegin, which she danced in 2002, with a touching “She was divine. I don’t know if I ever saw better.”


“Larissa Ponomarenko, her exquisite classic line, high, well-stretched extensions, lightning-quick turns, and flawless point work were breathtaking,” echoed Dance Magazine.


In Boston Ballet’s Romeo and Juliet as Juliet (left) and Sleeping Beauty, as Princess Aurora (right)


Ponomarenko has also performed a wide repertoire of Balanchine works including Symphony in C, Who Cares?, The Four Temperaments, Diamonds, Emeralds, Mozartiana, La Valse, Divertimento No. 15, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Serenade.


Her extensive contemporary repertoire included works by John Cranko, Jiří Kylián, Nacho Duato, Kenneth MacMillan, Antony Tudor, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, and Twyla Tharp, among others.



Over the years, Ponomarenko has worked closely with Boston Ballet Resident Choreographer Jorma Elo and has served as a muse for many of his ballets. She has also created roles in original works including Rhyme, choreographed for her by her husband Viktor Plotnikov.


She has appeared internationally in galas and as a Guest Artist with English National Ballet in London, NBA Ballet Company in Tokyo, Opera Theatre of Rome, and Teatro Comunale of Florence in Italy.


Larissa behind the scenes at a Gala concert (left) and onstage as the Tsar Maiden from a beautiful Russian ballet The Little Humpbacked Horse, or The Tsar Maiden (right)


She was nominated for the Benois de la Danse award in 2005 and is a recipient of the E. Virginia Williams Inspiration Award.


Watch Larissa being interviewed on the occasion of becoming a Ballet Master in 2011, with some beautifully shot footage of her class, and praise by her Boston Ballet colleagues. “It is not often you find an artist and an individual of her caliber. She has been an example within the company for many years through her artistry, hard work, kindness and individuality,” says Boston Ballet’s Artistic Director Mikko Nissinen.







and Ballet Master


Viktor Plotnikov is a world-famous choreographer based in Boston, MA. A native of Ukraine, Viktor began his classical ballet training in Kiev at the age of 11, and continued it at the St. Petersburg Vaganova Ballet Academy.


Viktor achieved true fame and recognition at the Boston Ballet, which he joined in 1993, and where he performed as Principal Dancer for 10 years. (Prior to joining Boston Ballet Plotnikov danced as a Soloist with Donetsk Ballet, and as a Principal Dancer with Mississippi and Tulsa Ballet Companies.) During his years as a dancer Victor extensively toured the world.


In 1999 Plotnikov expanded the scope of his career to include choreography. Since then Plotnikov has created a large number of original works for numerous organizations and individuals, often to great acclaim. These include solos and duets performed at International Gala Concerts and as part of international ballet competitions, with musical taste ranging from Brahms to Gershwin, to Pink Floyd.


It is Plotnikov’s unique style that won him the international acclaim. Dance Magazine define it as “skillful blend of cryptic, non-ballet movement and gesture with good old-fashioned ballet showmanship.”


Plotnikov choreographed visually stunning and intellectually changed pieces for Boston Ballet and Boston Ballet II company members, for Moscow's Bolshoi Ballet, Kansas City Ballet, Atlanta Ballet, Cincinnati Ballet (New Works Festival), Richmond Ballet, Pittsburgh Ballet, First State Ballet Theater of Wilmington, DE, International Ballet Competition in Jackson, International Ballet Competion in Varna, Festival Ballet Providence, Youth America Grand Prix, Harvard University Dance Program, and many others. 


“We need more choreographers like Plotnikov, who revere tradition while forging a new language, and still command the attention of an everyday family audience,” wrote Dance Magazine in 2007.


In the last 5 years Victor concentrated on full-length ballets. His ballets include Pinocchio (3 acts), Cinderella (3 acts), Carmen (2 acts), and The Widow’s Broom (2 acts).


Viktor has won a long list of Prizes, including 

  • 2011 – Best Choreography Award, World Ballet Competition in Orlando, FL
  • 2010 – Best Choreography Award, Beijing International Ballet Competition, China
  • 2009 – Best Choreography Award, Youth American Grand Prix, NYC Finals
  • 2008 – Best Choreography Award, Arabesque Ballet Competition in Perm, Russia
  • 2007 – Best Choreography Award, World Ballet Competition in Orlando, FL
  • 2007 – Second Prize, International Choreographic Competition in Milwaukee, WI
  • 2006 – Outstanding Choreographer, Youth America Grand Prix, NYC Finals
  • 2005 – Best Choreographer Award, Helsinki International Ballet Competition, Finland
  • 1995 – E. Virginia Williams Inspirational Award, Boston, MA


Watch Suite, a contemporary piece choreographed by Plotnikov for Elyse Jennings. Performed at the Arabesque Competition in Perm, Russia, it won Plotnikov Special Prize for Best Contemporary Choreography Created for Arabesque, and was performed in the Arabesque Closing Gala.



Currently Plotnikov is Resident Choreographer at Festival Ballet Providence. He is also on the Faculty of Jacob’s Pillow 2018.


 In italiano 



Direttori Artistici



Ballet Master
del Boston Ballet,
Prima Ballerina
della Compagnia
per 18 anni

Palermo Ballet Summer Intensive è orgogliosa di presentarvi la nostra direttrice artistica, Larissa Ponomarenko, ammirata sia dai colleghi della Compagnia di Balletto che dagli studenti. Larissa insegnare personalmente molte lezioni del PBSI ed ha inoltre reclutato il corpo insegnante di fama internazionale. (Non perdetevi il programma del corso, disponibile a breve!


Insegnando il corretto uso delle spalle


Larissa Ponomarenko è entrata a far parte dello staff artistico del Boston Ballet nel 2011. 



Diplomatasi presso la famosa Vaganova Ballet Academy di San Pietroburgo sotto la guida di Ninel Kurgapkina, Prima ballerina Russa del Kirov Ballet, nel 1993 Larissa diventa ballerina principale del Boston Ballet, dopo aver ballato per l'ucraino Donetsk Ballet e per le compagnie di ballo del Mississippi e Tulsa Ballet. Ponomarenko è stata Prima ballerina del Boston Ballet per ben 18 anni.


Larissa Ponomarenko mentre mostra una combinazione alla sbarra durante un MasterClass di novembre 2017


"Ho avuto la fortuna di frequentare i MasterClass di Larissa Ponomarenko e le sue lezioni presso la Compagnia del Boston Ballet. La grazia dei suoi movimenti quando ci mostrava i passi, e il modo in cui muoveva le braccia senza mostrare il minimo sforzo, erano un vero spettacolo. Ogni suo passo dimostrava un livello di arte e di eleganza a cui io personalmente aspiro. Grazie alle lezioni con Larissa ho migliorato significativamente la fluidità dei movimenti delle braccia e ho acquisito una migliore comprensione della tecnica artistica e di presenza scenica," sostiene Hannah Baugher, 16 anni, ex-allieva.


In una lezione ai membri della compagnia del Boston Ballet, nel 2011


"Il talento artistico di Larissa nell’esprimere emozioni attraverso la danza è mi ha semplicemente sbalordito. La sua devozione all’arte è incredibile e la sua capacità di mostrarci l’importanza di ogni piccolissimo dettaglio che contribuisce a creare il personaggio è davvero stupefacente," dice Madeline Glinski, 15 anni, studentessa del 5˚ livello e la giovane ambasciatrice di Russian Pointe.


L’attenzione al port de bras è il punto forte di Larissa. Qui insegnando la variazione di Aurora a Madeline Glinski, studentessa del 5˚ livello e giovane ambasciatrice del Russian Pointe


Mentre spiega un arabesque agli studenti del 4˚ livello


“Devo tutto ai miei insegnanti. Voglio dire, devo tutto a moltissima gente diversa, ma i miei insegnanti sono stati semplicemente incredibili,” ha dichiarato Larissa durante l’intervista al Boston Globe nel 2011, in occasione del suo nuovo ruolo di Ballet Master del Boston Ballet.


Come migliorarsi: Larissa spiega l'importanza della maestria artistica durante una lezione di repertorio classico


“Per me è stata una meravigliosa opportunità quella di lavorare con Larissa in un corso di repertorio classico dove abbiamo imparato le variazioni del Romeo e Giulietta di John Neumeier, da sempre il mio balletto preferito. Larissa ha spiegato gli aspetti artistici e quelli tecnici, e anche i retroscena, in modo che potessimo capire meglio i personaggi,”  racconta Rory Myers, 15 anni, studentessa del 5˚ livello e la Gaynor Girl.


Ponomarenko ha alle spalle un repertorio versatile che comprende Odette e Odile nel Lago dei Cigni, Kitri in Don Chisciotte, Aurora in La bella addormentata, Giulietta in Romeo e Giulietta, Tatiana in Onegin, Caterina in La bisbetica domata, ruoli principali in Giselle e Cenerentola, Medora in Le Corsaire, Swanhilda in Coppélia, Nikiya in La Bayadère, e innumerevoli altri.


"Giselle muore perché le hanno spezzato il cuore. La Ponomarenko potrebbe spezzare il vostro," ha scritto The Boston Globe.


Larissa Ponomarenko nel ruolo di Tatiana in Onegin di John Cranko: con Gael Lambiotte nel ruolo di Onegin (a sinistra) e suo marito Viktor Plotnikov nel ruolo del principe Gremlin (a destra)


Mikko Nissinen, il Direttore artistico del Boston Ballet, in un’intervista al Boston Globe ha commentato su Larissa nel ruolo di Tatiana nel 2002, nella prima dell’Onegin di John Cranko: “È stata divina. Non penso di avere mai visto un’interpretazione più bella.”


"Larissa Ponomarenko ha uno stile sublime, flessibilità impressionante, piroette veloci, e un impeccabile movimento sulle punte che ti lasceranno senza fiato,” concorda il Dance Magazine.


Nel ruolo di Giulietta (a sinistra) in Romeo e Giulietta di Boston Ballet e nel ruolo della Principessa Aurora (a destra) in La bella addormentata di Boston Ballet


Larissa ha inoltre eseguito un vasto repertorio delle opere di Balanchine, tra cui Sinfonia in Do, Who Cares?, The Four Temperaments, Diamonds, Emeralds, Mozartiana, La Valse, Divertimento No. 15, A Midsummer Night's Dream, e Serenade.


In più, Ponomarenko ha in attivo anche un vasto repertorio di danza contemporanea, tra cui le opere di John Cranko, Jiří Kylián, Nacho Duato, Kenneth MacMillan, Antony Tudor, Paul Taylor, Mark Morris, Christopher Wheeldon, e Twyla Tharp, solo per citarne qualcuno.



Nel corso degli anni, Ponomarenko ha lavorato a stretto contatto con il coreografo e artista in residenza del Boston Ballet, Jorma Elo, per il quale è stata la musa ispiratrice di molti dei suoi balletti. È stata inoltre ideatrice di alcuni ruoli in opere originali tra cui il Rhyme, coreografato per lei dal marito Viktor Plotnikov.


Larissa ha partecipato a numerosi gala a livello internazionale e ha lavorato come Artista Ospite con l’English National Ballet di Londra, la NBA Ballet Company di Tokyo, il Teatro dell'Opera di Roma, ed il Teatro Comunale di Firenze. 


Larissa dietro le quinte durante un concerto di gala (a sinistra), e sul palco nel ruolo della Giovane Tsarina con il balletto russo Il Cavallino Gobbo, (a destra)

È stata nominata per il premio Benois de la Danse nel 2005 ed è la vincitrice del E. Virginia Williams Inspiration Award.


Vi proponiamo il video dell’intervista di Larissa in occasione della sua investitura al ruolo di Ballet Master nel 2011, con alcune meravigliose riprese girate durante le sue lezioni, e interviste ai colleghi del Boston Ballet. "È raro trovare un’artista e una persona del suo calibro. In tutti questi anni è stata un modello all’interno della nostra Compagnia — grazie alla sua arte, al duro lavoro, alla gentilezza e all'individualità che la contraddistinguono,” dice Mikko Nissinen, il Direttore artistico della Compagnia.






Coreografo di danza
di fama internazionale
e Maestro di danza


Coming soon!