The French dancer Jean-Baptiste Lande founded the Russian School in 1738 in St. Petersburg where his French influence continued under other great teachers. Then in 1885, Virginia Zucchi, a famous Italian ballerina, performed in St. Petersburg and showed a different style of ballet. Where the Russian ballet dancers were taught to have a soft, elegant and graceful quality to their dancing, like the French, Zucchi showed a more forceful and brilliant Italian technique.

More Italian dancers, like Enrico Cecchetti, influenced the Russians even more and they rapidly absorbed everything the Italians had to teach. The Russians incorporated all these different styles into the Russian system of teaching and trained their dancers in this way which makes the Russian School a development of the French and Italian techniques.

In the 1920s, the Russian ballerina Agrippina Vaganova developed a technique which would later be known as the Vaganova system, which is still used around the world to train young ballet dancers.