Born in Leningrad in 1939, Elena Tchernichova graduated from the Waganowa Institute there, was a member of the Kirov Ballet and later choreographic assistant to Leonid Jacobson. A position as ballet mistress in Odessa followed before she took on the position of principal ballet mistress of the American Ballet Theatre in New York in 1976. In 1991 she was appointed director of the Vienna State Opera Ballet by Eberhard Waechter – a position she held until 1993. For Vienna she choreographed, among others, Don Quixote (1992) as well as Giselle (1993), an interpretation of the ballet classic that is still one of the calling cards of the Viennese repertoire today. In 2013 she published her autobiography Dancing on Water. A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT. Elena Tchernichova died in 2015 in her hometown.