The Mariinsky Ballet Company is closely linked with the entire history of the development of Russian choreographic art which began some 250 years ago. Originally, the company performed at the stage of the St Petersburg Bolshoy (Stone) Theatre then, from 1885 onwards the ballet productions were staged at the Mariinsky Theatre.
The leading role in the establishment, and in the evolution of the Russian ballet, was traditionally played by foreign mastersamongst them, Franz Gilferding, Gasparo Angiolini, Giuseppe Canziani and Charles le Picqué. However, in the 1790s the first Russian ballet teacher, Ivan Valberkh, became prominent. The main sphere of his activities was a small mime ballet company.