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The greatest Russian teacher of her day (1879-1951). She was a graduate of the St. Petersburg Imperial Ballet School, where she studied under Ivanov, Vazem, Gerdt, Legat and others. She was accepted into the corps de ballet of the Maryinski Theatre in 1897 and became a ballerina in 1915. She left the stage in 1917 to devote herself to teaching. In 1921 she became a teacher at the Leningrad State Ballet School (formerly the Imperial Ballet School, St. Petersburg) and began developing the instructional system that later became known to the world as the Vaganova system. In 1934 she became head of the Leningrad Choreographic Technicum and published her textbook Fundamentals of the Classic Dance Vaganova's method has become the basic method of the entire Soviet choreographic school. This method is still being developed by Vaganova's followers.

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