By Joel Lobenthal
Alla Osipenko is the gripping tale of 1 of history's maximum ballerinas, a brave insurgent who paid the associated fee for talking fact to the Soviet nation. She studied with Agrippina Vaganova, the main respected and influential of all Russian ballet teachers, and in 1950, she joined the Mariinsky (then-Kirov) Ballet, the place her strains, shapes, and routine either exemplified the venerable traditions of Russian ballet and propelled these traditions ahead into uncharted and experimental geographical regions.
She was once the 1st of her new release of Kirov stars to enchant the West whilst she danced in Paris in 1956. yet dancing for the institution had its downsides, and Osipenko's sharp tongue and marked independence, in addition to her almost-reckless flouting of Soviet ideas for private and political behavior, quickly stumbled on her all yet quarantined in Russia. An across the world acclaimed ballerina on the peak of her profession, she came upon that she may now need to be successful within the face of each try by way of the Soviet nation and the Kirov management to humble her.
In Alla Osipenko, acclaimed dance author Joel Lobenthal tells Osipenko's tale for the 1st time in English, drawing on forty interviews with the prima ballerina, and tracing her lifestyles from Classical darling to avant-garde insurgent. during the booklet, Osipenko talks frankly and freely in a fashion that few Russians of her iteration have allowed themselves to. Her voice rises above the incidents as unhesitating and swish as her mythical adagios. Candid, irreverent, and, in particular, self reliant -- Osipenko and her tale open a window right into a attention-grabbing and little-discussed international.
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Extra resources for Alla Osipenko: Beauty and Resistance in Soviet Ballet
We were friends, like one team,” Osipenko recalled. ” In Perm she studied for one year with Evgenia Vecheslova-Snetkova, a close associate of Vaganova. Her daughter Tatiana was a ballerina in the Kirov and would figure prominently in Osipenko’s later career. But it was teacher Elizaveta Grumova who first tutored her in pointe work. It was a careful, slow progress to full facility on pointe, but for Osipenko and her fellow students, it was, she recalled, “a holiday of the soul,” using the common Russian expression.
After her success in Meditation, the school had sent her and two other students to a big resort near the Finnish border. There she met Nahumov, who was twenty. He was from Leningrad but was studying in Moscow at the Institute of Cinematography. For three weeks students spent most of their time together. He flirted with all three girls, but among them Osipenko considered Angelina Karbarova the most beautiful. She assumed that he was really pursuing her. As their vacation came to an end, she hid in the bushes and cried, afraid that she would never see him again.
Vaganova laughed. Osipenko chuckled too as she recalled a photography session with Vaganova and her class. Vaganova was grouchy because she had lost a gold watch. The photographer wanted to try a picture in profile next to one of the prettiest girls; Vaganova instead wanted to stand next to “this girl”—who had a flat nose like a Cossack’s. Vaganova remained in a bad mood for the next week, until one morning she walked in all smiles and whispered something to Brodskaya. The moment Vaganova left after class, the girls flew over to the piano.