Valentina Kozlova is known to be a major innovator in the international ballet world. Her passion for dance, and for the choreographers and dancers who create and perform, have led her to find new outlets for their talents. Born in Moscow, Ms. Kozlova was trained at the Bolshoi Ballet School. She was invited to join the Bolshoi Ballet Company in 1973 and was promoted to Principal Dancer in 1975. She danced all of the major classical roles with the company.
In 1979, she defected to the United States while on tour with the Bolshoi. She had already performed, while still a student, in Western Europe and the U.S. and was intrigued by what she saw. Her quest for artistic freedom and growth led her to seek a career that would offer new roles by western contemporary choreographers as well as the classics. She was immediately in demand as a guest artist internationally.
She made her Broadway debut in the leading role for the revival of "On Your Toes", learning the part from its original creators: George Abbott and George Balanchine. Her performance led Balanchine to invite her to become a Principal Dancer with New York City Ballet in 1983. She accepted and performed with the company until 1995, dancing the classics along with the leading roles of works by Balanchine, Jerome Robbins, Peter Martins, Eliot Feld and Richard Tanner.
The list of Ms. Kozlova's guest appearances with major international ballet companies is impressive, including Spoleto, La Scala, Florence Opera House, English National Ballet, Paris Opera, Basel Ballet, Australia, Ballet de Santiago (Chile), Teatro Colon (Buenos Aires) and Hong Kong. She also appeared in ballet galas in Africa, Greece, England, India, Italy, Portugal, Spain, Don des Etoiles in Canada, Taiwan, Korea and Japan. Her performances on video include the Pavlova Special (CBS), La Fille Mal Gardée (Philips Video, Germany), and Spartacus (VEAR Productions, Argentina).
Valentina Kozlova has appeared on television, including talk shows and entertainment programs around the world. Following Glasnost, she made a triumphant return to Moscow in 1991, with NBC News covering her performances at the Kremlin Palace. She returned to Moscow in 1992 to perform the premiere of a new solo, "Blue Angel", created for her by choreographer Margo Sappington. She and Ms. Sappington established Ballet: The Daring Project, a ballet company dedicated to creating new works. Ms. Kozlova also danced in "A Christmas Carol" with Tony Randall and Ben Vereen.
In 2003, Ms. Kozlova opened her dance conservatory, Valentina Kozlova Dance Conservatory of New York (VKDCNY), a professional school that provides students who have the talent, determination and ability to receive the quality of training needed to pursue professional careers. She founded Dance Conservatory Performance Project, a venue to provide public performances for her dancers.
In 2009, Ms. Kozlova presented One Magical Performance: The Legacy Gala at The Joyce Theater in New York in celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of her defection. Principal dancers from New York City Ballet and American Ballet Theater were guest artists, performing at the spectacular event along with students from her school.
In 2011, Valentina Kozlova presented the debut of another new organization: the highly acclaimed Boston International Ballet Competition (BIBC). The competition was repeated in Boston in 2012. In 2013, it became the Valentina Kozlova International Ballet Competition (VKIBC), which had its first presentation in New York. Ninety-six dancers from twenty-one countries joined U.S. dancers to compete for prizes that included not only monetary awards but international school scholarships, company contracts and invitations to perform at international gala performances.
While acting as judge for the 2013 ballet competition in Seoul, South Korea, Ms. Kozlova proposed an association between her competition and those of South Korea, South Africa and China. The association was formed to improve the artistic value for competing dancers. Her colleagues from those countries applauded the suggestion and the first meeting of the association was held immediately. April of 2014 marked the debut of a never before seen event: a special international contemporary competition for contemporary choreographers and dancers, which was held at New York's Symphony Space Theater.
In 2015 VKIBC had its first European semi final, taking place in Brussels, Belgium along with the semi finals in Misiones, a province in northeastern Argentina and New Orleans.
In March of 2016 Valentina launched the 501(c)(3) non for profit organization called Valentina Kozlova Dance Foundation, Inc. (VKDF) to support talented dancers and choreographers in their achievements. Now in its seventh year, VKIBC is holding its 2017 finals in New York, at Symphony Space Theater next June.