Table of contents:
- The tragic fate of Avdotya Istomina
- The glory and madness of the great dancer
- A life devoted to ballet
- Through thorns to glory: the life and work of Serge Lifar
2023 Author: Richard Flannagan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-11-26 05:58
The ballet, along with vodka, nesting dolls and Yuri Gagarin, has long become a hallmark of Russia. The whole world knows the names of Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Fokin, Avdotya Istomina, Vaclav Nijinsky, Serge Lifar, Olga Spesivtseva, Rudolf Nureyev and many other Russian ballet dancers. It was they who, with their hard work, obsession with dance, outstanding natural abilities, made them talk about Russian ballet as the best in the world.
It would seem that, possessing great talent, love of the public, dancing leading roles in the best theaters, these artists should have been happy people. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Among truly talented people, few can boast of a happily lived life.
The tragic fate of Avdotya Istomina
“Brilliant, half-airy,” - this is how her contemporary, the great Russian poet Alexander Pushkin, wrote about this ballerina. And he, a subtle connoisseur of female beauty, knew what he was writing about. Speed and ease of movement were combined in her with incredible grace, it was impossible not to admire her. She was the first Russian ballerina performing in Russia to stand on pointe shoes. We are talking about the great Russian ballerina Avdotya Istomina.
At the age of 6, Avdotya, who became an orphan, got acquainted with the world of dance - she was admitted to the theater school of St. Petersburg. Already at the age of 9, a talented girl first appeared on the stage. And after only a few years, she became the mistress of this stage, whose performances were called theater holidays.
The audience enthusiastically applauded the ballerina; men offered her their love, fought for her in duels. However, the ballerina did not acquire personal and professional happiness. The age of dancers is short. By the age of 30, she had lost her famous lightness, and her salary was cut in half. From a leading ballerina, she became an actress of the mimic genre.
When she was injured, she was simply fired, by order of Tsar Nicholas I himself, for her friendship with the Decembrists.
Having lost her job, Istomina began to teach dance art. One of her husbands died very early, and the other, with whom she had already linked her fate, being in disfavor, briefly outlived it. Avdotya Istomina died at the age of 49 from cholera.
The glory and madness of the great dancer
In a family of ballet dancers, Vaslav Nijinsky was born, who was destined to become a legend of world ballet. Children of ballet dancers, like circus children, learn the profession of their parents from the cradle. At the age of 5, Vaclav was already introduced to the play, where he performed the hopak.
When Nijinsky was 7 years old, his father left his family for a young ballerina. A mother with three children moved to St. Petersburg, where her friend S. Gillert lived. He taught at a ballet school. Soon, Vaclav and his sister began their studies at one of the best ballet schools. Teachers noted the outstanding natural data of the student, his talent. During his studies, Vaclav suffered a nervous breakdown, and for some time he had to be treated in a psychiatric hospital. But everything worked out, and he returned to his studies.
At the age of 16, Nijinsky made his debut on the main Russian stage with the part of Faun in the play Acis and Galatea. The entire press of that time wrote about the debut of a talented artist. The audience was delighted with his plasticity, jumps. It became the discovery of the year.
After a brilliant performance, Nijinsky was invited to the Mariinsky Theater. Here he danced for 5 years. He was dismissed from the theater at the behest of the emperor. He and other members of the royal family did not like the overly revealing costume in which Vaclav danced in Giselle.
The gifted dancer was invited to his theater by Sergei Diaghilev. In Europe, Vaslav Nijinsky became the personification of Russian ballet, his soul. The young artist was called a bird-man, for his incredibly high powerful jumps and the ability to hover over the stage in them - to soar. In addition, Wenceslas possessed amazing strength and feline grace.
Despite the deafening success with the public as a dancer, Nijinsky also tries himself as a stage director. In this endeavor, he is strongly supported by S. Diaghilev, with whom he had an amorous relationship. There were controversial reviews about Nijinsky's performances.
In 1913, Vaclav secretly married the dancer Romola Pulska. Upon learning of this, Diaghilev flew into a rage and tore up the contract with Nijinsky. The dancer received an offer to lead the Grand Opera in Paris, but he turned it down, hoping to recruit his own troupe. When this happened, the choreographer was unable to work normally due to the constant lawsuits of Diaghilev. The troupe went bankrupt, and Nijinsky experienced an aggravation of his mental state.
In 1917, at the age of 28, Vaslav Nijinsky took the stage for the last time. Shortly thereafter, he was admitted to a mental hospital diagnosed with schizophrenia. All subsequent years, until his death, at the age of 61, he spent in various psychiatric clinics. There were periods of enlightenment, but they did not last long. He was buried in the suburbs of London, but then, at the insistence of S. Lifar, he was reburied in Paris, next to the graves of T. Gatier and G. Westris.
A life devoted to ballet
The fate of the famous ballerina Olga Spesivtseva gave many years of her life. She lived for 96 years. But 30 of them - Olga spent in a nursing home, and 21 years - in a psychiatric hospital for the poor, as a patient with no name.
At the age of 10, from an orphanage, Olga entered a choreographic school in St. Petersburg. Almost immediately after its graduation, she becomes a soloist of the Mariinsky. Sergei Diaghilev invited Spesivtseva on a tour of America to replace T. Karsavina. While she was touring, a revolution took place in Russia. Returning from America, Olga Spesivtseva becomes the prima of the theater, begins to prepare the role of Giselle. In order to more realistically play a girl on the verge of insanity, Olga visits a hospital for the mentally ill.
Giselle, performed by Olga Spesivtseva, overshadowed even the performance of Anna Pavlova. Her Giselle was flawless - gentle, quivering, defenseless. But she got too used to the role - she herself had the first symptoms of insanity.
The young ballerina, inspired by success, hopes for new roles. But, rehearsing to the point of exhaustion, in a cold theater, unable to eat normally, the artist fell ill with tuberculosis. After treatment in Italy, Spesivtseva emigrates from Russia to Paris and then to London. There she meets the American businessman L. Brown, who helps her return the love of the public. She toured different countries.
Once, in Australia, a ballerina had a nervous breakdown, and then she began to lose her memory. L. Brown puts her in an expensive mental hospital. Olga loses her memory, forgets even simple words. When L. Brown suddenly died of a heart attack, O. Spesivtseva was placed in a psychiatric hospital for the poor, as if she were unknown. She lived there for 21 years. Over time, her health improved, her memory returned. Olga was transferred to a nursing home (she was 65 years old), organized by the daughter of Leo Tolstoy, where she spent 30 years, until her death.
Through thorns to glory: the life and work of Serge Lifar
Contemporaries called this dancer "The God of Dance". The magnificent artist, talented stage director Serge Lifar was born in Kiev, lived and worked in Paris, and died in Lausanne. Serge was born in a wealthy family of an official. His mother was the daughter of a large landowner. In the Lifarey family, a legend has been preserved that the ancestor of their family arrived in Ukraine from India, and then was a Zaporozhye Cossack. The dancer's unusual appearance reminded of an exotic origin.
From childhood, Serge felt a vocation for music, studied piano and violin, sang in the choir of St. Sophia Cathedral. But one day, accidentally seeing a lesson at a ballet school, he literally fell ill with dance. At that time, Serge was 14 years old. The age at which it is too late to start mastering the art of ballet. The boy was incredibly lucky. The ballet school was run by Bronislava Nijinsky, the sister of the famous dancer Vaclav Nijinsky. Seeing the burning eyes of a teenager, evaluating his data, his passionate desire to dance, she decided to give him a chance. And for good reason - he became the best student in the school. The time of training coincided with the revolution and the Civil War.
When Serge was 18 years old, Nizhinskaya, at the invitation of the famous Sergei Diaghilev, left for Paris. With the blessing of his mother, Serge also leaves Kiev, following his teacher. The escape took place in the middle of winter, the young man had to ride on the step of the train for several hours in severe frost. But the conduct kept him, and Lifar successfully made it to France. He never saw his parents, brothers and sister again. Under the patronage of Nijinsky, Diaghilev accepted Serge into the troupe of his theater. After a while, they become lovers. Diaghilev gives the young man all the main parts in the ballets, which were then staged and, gradually, success and public recognition come to S. Lifar.
After Diaghilev's death, Lifar closes his theater and accepts an offer from the Grand Opera. He became a soloist of the theater, its main choreographer. This was the most fruitful period in the life of the famous dancer. Fanatically devoted to ballet, he gathered a troupe of the same enthusiasts. They rehearsed for 8 hours a day. One after another, his new productions came out. In total, he staged 200 ballets on this stage. Many of them entered the golden fund of world choreography.
Realizing in creativity, communicating with famous people, Serge Lifar did not stop thinking about Kiev, which he yearned for all his life. In 1958, the theater troupe was invited to tour the USSR. Lifar dreamed of this trip for many years, but due to bureaucratic formalities with a passport, he was not released from the country. This was a huge blow to the maestro, he left the Grand Opera.
Fate gave S. Lifar a meeting with a wealthy countess from Switzerland L. Alefeld. The couple got married and settled in Lausanne, because S. Lifar did not have his own home in Paris. Only 46 years after his flight from Russia, the famous dancer managed to visit his homeland, to bow to the graves of his parents. Longing for Kiev and love for it, Serge Lifar carried into his heart through his whole life. Even on his gravestone, at his request, the most important words for him were written: "Serge Lifar from Kiev."
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