Peggy Willis Aarnio
About Professor Emeritus
Peggy Willis-Aarnio is Professor Emeritus and on the Graduate Faculty at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, TX. She is an authority on Russian Classical Ballet and an internationally recognized dance historian, author, choreographer and teacher of teachers. As well as conducting activities throughout the year, she also hosts an International teacher's congress and student ballet workshop and is the first leading authority to conduct online teaching sessions, for the first time enabling anyone from virtually anywhere in the world to attend!
As one of the most dedicated students of Mr. John Barker, Peggy Willis-Aarnio became the “transmitter” of this invaluable information. After completing his courses many times over, Prof. Willis-Aarnio was discovered by the legendary prima ballerina of the Kirov Ballet, Galina Mezentseva, as one of the few teachers still alive today who understand this teaching method. Mezentseva was so impressed by the depth of Prof. Willis-Aarnio’s knowledge of this exact training, which she had received herself during her days as a student, that she got Prof. Willis-Aarnio an invitation to the Vaganova Academy in Saint Petersburg to obtain her qualification as a “teacher of teachers”, the highest qualification for a teacher of classical dance (1992, endorsed by Valentina Roumiantseva, head of the methodology department).
She is also the first American to choreograph new classical ballet works for major Russian ballet companies. Prof. Willis-Aarnio’s original choreography has been seen in over 400 cities in North America, including Mexico, Costa Rica, Canada, Bermuda, and Puerto Rico, and in Europe, including Russia and Malta.
Prof. Willis-Aarnio is author of the educational video series, The Classical Ballet Lesson, demonstrated by long-time prima ballerina of the Kirov Ballet, Galina Mezentseva. She is the director and author of two CD sets, Music for the Classical Ballet Lesson (Series I and Series II) and author of the historical book, Agrippina Vaganova (1879-1951): Her Place in the History of Ballet and Her Impact on the Future of Classical Dance (published in 2002 by Edwin Mellen Press, NY). She is now writing a new series of educational books for teachers, entitled How to Teach Classical Ballet. With her husband, Paul Aarnio, she is co-owner and founder of the Willis Conservatory of Classical Ballet in Panama City Beach, Florida.
Prof. Willis-Aarnio’s work over the past 40 years–through her teaching of thousands of students, her educational products and her international teacher’s congresses–has done much to prevent this precious information from becoming forgotten. Her life's work is doing everything in her power to carry on the proven procedure Vaganova began, which was Kostrovitskaya’s great wish before her passing. It was also Vaganova’s own wish for there to be teaching congresses held all over the world, and that wish has now come true through Prof. Willis-Aarnio’s pioneering online teacher’s courses!
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