Irina Kolpakova was born in St Petersburg in 1933. She graduated 1951 from Agrippina Vaganova's last graduating class. With her exquisite perfect academic style she excelled in the classical repertoire and was Kirov's leading ballerina in the 1960's. She carried the Vaganova tradition to the coming generations teaching and coaching at the Vaganova School and the Mariinsky Ballet.
Joined the American Ballet Theatre as Ballet Mistress in 1990.
People's Artist of the USSR in 1960.