Russia's Vaganova Academy is the premier ballet school in the world (wikipedia article). Different media outlets have done great articles on the academy. It was founded by government money in the 1700s. It survived and thrived on government largesse. When Marius Petipa was there, keeping ballet alive and raising it to new heights, the Tsar flooded the academy and the Imperial Ballet Company with money. The command was to create the best performances to exhibit the art for the court. Reach new heights, dazzle the audience, and create the best ballet productions ever. The Russian Tsars succeeded as the ballet world lulled a bit in the West in the mid-1800s but thrived in Russia during the same time. Their money, and the efforts of the Russian performers, choreographers and directors, not only saved ballet but created what you see today.
The Imperial company and ballet school are the key. They received government money, and the prime directive was making the greatest pieces possible. This means selecting the best possible candidates and training them in the most difficult and technically exact fashion. There are documentaries made on the academy available on Youtube, and even better, there are Academy examination videos online (for the Academy's exams there is a pic of Vaganova in the background). The productions are a bit of nature and nurture. You will be trained to be the best. They will change how your body moves, and they will push your body to the limits. Watch some evaluation videos. You'll see tremendous physical movements, and these are students. American schools can do Vaganova evaluations, but they are not as good. Below is a documentary about the academy narrated by Grace Kelly.
There might be something more to it, and this is where good, progressive and egalitarian America would never ever be like Russia. Nature is involved. When a child applies to be part of the academy, they are not evaluated on their talent first. They are measured, flexed, and measured some more. See, the Russians believe that they know the proportions and physical traits that make for a body they can mold into a perfect ballerina. A Vaganova quote, "Talent is only worth considering when it's in the right body". Talent matters for a child, but the foundation is a body that will look great and that can be made great. How naturally flexible is a child, what is their natural turn out, and do they have the leg to body proportions to look great onstage. In America, we can be whatever we want to be. One just needs to pull up the bootstraps and work harder. This is why our ballet lags the Russians. The Russians do not believe in that nonsense. Americans hold up exceptions to disprove reality. The Russians do not take chances on exceptions.
Here is one beauty in form and movement: Svetlana Zakharova. She is in the center, with blue sweats over white tights. At the 2:40 mark she has a white Adidas top and performs insanely high extensions. Compare her to the folks behind her.
Remember she has been selected for her dimensions to look the part and perform the best. She has trained with the best. Check out her movements. Makes it look easy. Now if you watched other videos and listened to the translator for her, she spoke of going to the academy. She spoke of crying because it was so hard. She still struggled on, and became what she is today. You think a government funded American ANYTHING would continue if kids were crying because of how difficult it was? No way. The Russians and the Vaganova Academy do not care. You want to be the best? So do other girls and boys. You can be replaced. Be the best. She is now. With her genetics and through effort, strain, sweat and tears, she has become something beautiful.