Born in Buenos Aires, Pagliero comes from a family of Italian, Spanish, Czech and Mapuche ancestry. She grew up in the Palermo district of the city, where her father was an electrician and her mother a masseuse. Because Ludmila was a boisterous child, because she "needed to move" as she declared to her mother when she was seven that her mother registered her with a classical ballet school. She was quite disappointed by this first experience : the teacher was quite old, used a "stick for our legs", there lacked a piano. Her mother had then the idea of registering her with a jazz class, and there, she was "happy".
The jazz teacher identified predispositions, easiness and rapidity in her. She encouraged her to return to classical dancing, to learn the basis and because it is a good complement to contemporary dance. During this second classical dancing experience, Ludmila will "fall in love" with this art.
This new teacher suggested to her parents that she takes the admission auditions to the Instituto Superior de Arte of the Teatro Colón of Buenos Aires. Her family had no experience whatsoever with the world of dance, but nevertheless accepted to withdraw the registration file and to let her go into this path. She only had six months experience of classical dancing and only three months ahead of her to get ready and learn the pas, but also the vocabulary. In spite of falling behind the other candidates, most of whom had two or three years of prior practice, Ludmila took up the challenge: she succeeded in being admitted to the Instituto on her first attempt, in 1993, then 10 years old.
At the Instituto Superior de Arte of the Teatro Colón, Ludmila received training from several famous teachers: Rina Valverde, Mario Gallizzi, Andrea Bengochea, Héctor Barriles, Mirta Furioso and Olga Ferri. "All my dreams of dancer were born in the Teatro Colón", remembers Ludmila about this period. And yet, it had been several years that the ballet of the Teatro Colón had not offered a single position for a dancer.
In 1999, Ricardo Bustamante, artistic director of the ballet of the Teatro Colón (and current ballet master and assistant artistic director with the San Francisco Ballet) left to take the direction of the ballet of the Teatro Municipal de Santiago in Chile. Ludmila had had the opportunity to stand for indisposed dancers with the ballet of the Teatro Colón and at Ricardo had had the opportunity to spot her. He then proposed her a one-year contract with the corps de ballet of Santiago. Burning to get on stage, she immediately accepted his offer, without even asking permission from her parents. She was 15 1/2.
Ludmila had to leave Argentina and her family, what she today calls the "most difficult" decision of her life and settle in Santiago. After a regime of her relentless daily work, from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., she was promoted to soloist two years later, at the age of 17, and started dancing title roles in, among others, The Sleeping Beauty (Ricardo Bustamante - Princess Aurora) and Theme and Variations (George Balanchine).
At the beginning of 2003, Ricardo Gustamante left the Teatro Municipal of Santiago and the ballet was left without an artistic director. A French friend living in Chili talked to her about the New York International Ballet Competition. Ludmila decided to give it a try. She prepared for a month in a New York studio, gathering all the candidates, to present one variation and three pas de deux.
At the end of the month, during which she remembers having had a lot of fun, Ludmila was awarded the silver medal in the New York International Ballet Competition, as well as the Igor Youskevitch Award, granting her a one-year contract with the American Ballet Theatre.
Her French friend then talked to her about the audition for the Paris Opera Ballet. Ludmila decides to take it, without much hope (while the American Ballet Theatre had already opened its doors to some Argentinean dancers, none of them had ever made it to the Paris Opera Ballet), just "to set foot at least once in her life at the Paris Opera", "historical birthplace of classical dance". The audition required the presentation of a mandatory variation of Swan Lake (Rudolf Noureev), which video was supposed to be sent to Ludmila by mail, but she never received it. Ludmila landed in Paris a couple of days before the competition. There, her friend introduced her to a ballerina of the Paris Opera Ballet, who showed her a demonstration of the variation, on the sidewalk in front of the Palais Garnier.
Since the Paris Opera House does not open its doors to the candidates to rehearse, Ludmila had to look for a dance studio eager to let her in. She found one, but the floor was too slippery and she feared to fall and get injured before the audition. The following day was a bank holiday and all the dance studios in Paris were closed. The next day, on the audition day's eve, Ludmila started losing hope. Her friend then called Laetitia Pujol (Etoile of the Paris Opera Ballet). The latter allowed the young Argentinean to get into the Opera House and helped her rehearse during half an hour in one of the studios.
The following day, Ludmila performed her variation in front of the jury. In order to reduce the pressure, she kept on telling herself that, anyway, nobody knew her there and that, if she did not pass, everybody will have forgotten her a couple of days later. She was turned down and thought this was the end of the story with the Paris Opera.
A few weeks later, back to Argentina, whereas she was about to leave her place to head to the American Embassy to get her work visa for the American Ballet Theatre, her phone rang. The Paris Opera was proposing her a three months contract, with the corps de ballet, for the performance of Ivan the Terrible (Yuri Grigorovich), at the Opéra Bastille, offer to take or to leave.
She immediately decided to go to France, even though this meant started in the level of the "corps de ballet", although she was already dancing principal roles in Chile and she did not, at that time, speak the French language. At the end of the three-month period for the preparation and performance of Ivan The Terrible, her contract was extended to the end of 2003-2004 season. In June 2004, she takes the auditions again. She made second for the only available position. She however was proposed to join the company as a surnuméraire.
In June 2005, she passes successfully the auditions and becomes a Quadrille (first rank) of the corps of the Paris Opera Ballet.
In November 2006, Ludmila Pagliero ascended up to the second rank of the company, becoming a Coryphée. From then on, she rose quickly and became a Sujet (third rank) the following year (performing variations from Raymonda and Swan Lake). With this new position, shel obtained, four years after she left Chile, leading roles again, in particular the title role of Garance in Les Enfants du Paradis by José Martinez.
In November 2009, she was admitted as Première Danseuse (soloist, fourth rank), performing during the auditions solos from Other Dances (Jerome Robbins) and Carmen (Roland Petit); she had prepared the auditions with Aurélie Dupont, Muriel Zusperreguy and Florence Clerc. The same year, she received the Konex Award from the Fundación Konex in Argentina.
This new position allowed her to dance title roles on a regular basis: she was Clara in Nutcracker (Rudolf Nureyev), as soon as December 2009, then Gamzatti in La Bayadère (Rudolf Nureyev) in May 2010 and the Étoile in La Petite Danseuse de Degas by Patrice Bart in June 2010.
The following season (2010-2011), she performed the lead roles in Paquita (Pierre Lacotte) and Swan Lake (Rudolf Nureyev). In September 2011, Jean-Guillaume Bart chooses her for his new production La Source.
On 22 March 2012, the Paris Opera faced a serious problem. Dorothée Gilbert was cast in the role of Gamzatti in La Bayadère (Rudolf Noureev) at the Bastille Opera. She announced that she was injured. Those who would normally have stood in for her were also found to be indisposed or injured. On top of everything else, the ballet was to be relayed to cinemas across Europe.
Ludmila had already performed the role two years before. But she had not rehearsed since. In addition, she was already cast in two other productions, Apartment (Mats Ek) and Dances at a Gathering (Jerome Robbins) at the Palais Garnier. With only a few hours to go, Laurent Hilaire (former Etoile of the Paris Opera Ballet and at the time the company's ballet master), asked Pagliero if she could take it on. After a quick rehearsal with Josua Hoffalt (Solor) and Aurélie Dupont (Nikiya), Ludmila accepted the challenge.
At the end of the performance, before the curtain calls, Brigitte Lefèvre, at the time artistic director of the ballet, joined the dancers on stage to announce that she was honoured to award Ludmila Pagliero the title of Etoile for "the talent and artistic courage she had shown".
Ludmila Pagliero is the first non-European foreigner to receive the title of Etoile; she is also one of a very few dancers to have been admitted to the Paris troupe without training at the Paris Opera Ballet School.
Since her appointment, Ludmila has continued with her career as an Etoile dancer with the Paris Opera Ballet where she regularly performs numerous title roles in ballets such as: Carmen (Roland Petit), Kitri in Don Quixote (Rudolf Nureyev), Tatiana in Onegin (John Cranko), Palais de Cristal (George Balanchine), Agon (George Balanchine), Dances at a Gathering (Jerome Robbins), etc. ; as well as in contemporary works: Appartement and The House of Bernarda Alba (Mats Ek), Rain (Anna Teresa de Keersmaeker), Hark! (Emanuel Gat), etc.
She is also regularly invited on international tours and galas at the Bolshoi Theatre (Moscow, Russia), the Mariinsky (Saint-Petersburg, Russia), the Abay National Theatre and Opera House (Almaty, Kazakhstan) and the Lithuanian National Opera and Ballet Theatre.
In the 2014-2015 season, she has performed the role of Naïla in La Source (Jean-Guillaume Bart) with Karl Paquette in November and December. She is now expected to dance in:Nutcracker (Rudolf Nureyev) as Clara in December with Mathieu Ganio (The Prince / Drosselmeyer);
Réplique (Nicolas Paul) in January;
Swan Lake (Rudolf Nureyev) as Odette/Odile with Mathias Heymann (Siegfried) and François Alu (Rothbart) in March;
The Story of Manon (Kenneth MacMillan) with Florian Magnenet (Des Grieux) and Audric Bezard (Lescaut, Manon's Brother) in April;
Paquita (Pierre Lacotte) as Paquita at the Royal Danish Theatre in May; and
Les Enfants du Paradis (José Martinez) as Garance also in Mayl.
Finally, she is expected to travel to Dubai with Karl Paquette and a dozen of other dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet for a gala entitled Soloists from the Paris Opera Ballet organised by the Dubai Dance Academy where they will perform works from the repertory of the Paris Opera.