Maria Babanina was born in Leningrad (today again: St. Petersburg). She studied piano and musicology at the local conservatory with a focus on historical research on ballet music. She first worked as a teacher at the Waganova Institute, then as a repetiteur at the Maly Theatre, and from 1978 at the Kirov Ballet. From the 1990/91 season Maria Babanina was engaged as a repetiteur with the Bayerisches Staatsballett, but also performed as a solo pianist. La Bayadère was her first musical arrangement of a full-length classic for the Bayerisches Staatsballett in 1998, followed by Raymonda in 2002. This was followed in 2007 by the new musical and dramaturgical arrangement of the ballet Le Corsaire (2007), building on her historical research begun in 2004. With the musical arrangement for the premiere of the new version of Marius Petipa's Paquita by Alexei Ratmansky, Maria Babanina achieved further success with her research work.