Prima ballerina of the Imperial Theater Matilda Kshesinskaya was not only one of the brightest stars of Russian ballet, but also one of the most scandalous and controversial figures in the history of the twentieth century. She was the mistress of Emperor Nicholas II and two great dukes, and later became the wife of Andrei Vladimirovich Romanov. Such women are called fatal - she used men to achieve her goals, weaved intrigues, abused personal connections for career purposes. She is called a courtesan and a seducer, although no one disputes her talent and skill.
Maria-Matilda Krzhezinska was born in 1872 in St. Petersburg into a family of ballet dancers who came from the family of ruined Polish counts Krasinski. Since childhood, the girl, who grew up in an artistic environment, dreamed of ballet.
At the age of 8 she was sent to the Imperial Theater School, from which she graduated with honors. Her graduation performance on March 23, 1890 was attended by the imperial family. It was then that the future Emperor Nicholas II saw her for the first time. Later, the ballerina confessed in her memoirs: "When I said goodbye to the Heir, a feeling of attraction to each other had already crept into his soul, as well as into mine."
After graduating from college, Matilda Kshesinskaya was enrolled in the troupe of the Mariinsky Theater and in her first season she took part in 22 ballets and 21 operas. On a gold bracelet with diamonds and sapphires - a gift from the Tsarevich - she engraved two dates, 1890 and 1892. This was the year of their acquaintance and the year of the beginning of the relationship. However, their romance did not last long - in 1894, the engagement of the heir to the throne with the Princess of Hesse was announced, after which he parted with Matilda.
Kshesinskaya became a prima ballerina, and the entire repertoire was specially selected for her. The director of the imperial theaters Vladimir Telyakovsky, not denying the outstanding talents of the dancer, said: “It would seem that a ballerina, serving in the directorate, should belong to the repertoire, but here it turned out that the repertoire belongs to M. Kshesinskaya. She considered ballets to be her property and could give or not let others dance.
The prima wove intrigues and did not allow many ballerinas to go on stage. Even when foreign dancers came on tour, she did not allow them to perform in "their" ballets. She herself chose the time for her performances, performed only at the height of the season, allowed herself long breaks, during which she stopped classes and indulged in entertainment. At the same time, Kshesinskaya was the first of the Russian dancers to be recognized as a world star. She impressed the foreign audience with her skill and 32 fouettés in a row.
Grand Duke Sergei Mikhailovich took care of Kshesinskaya and indulged all her whims. She went on stage wearing insanely expensive Faberge jewelry. In 1900, on the stage of the Imperial Theater, Kshesinskaya celebrated the 10th anniversary of her creative activity (although before her ballerinas gave benefit performances only after 20 years on stage). At dinner after the performance, she met the Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, with whom she began a whirlwind romance. At the same time, the ballerina continued to officially live with Sergei Mikhailovich.
In 1902, a son was born to Kshesinskaya. Paternity was attributed to Andrei Vladimirovich.Telyakovsky did not choose expressions: “Is it really a theater, and am I really in charge of this? Everyone is happy, everyone is happy and glorifies an extraordinary, technically strong, morally impudent, cynical, impudent ballerina who lives simultaneously with two grand dukes and not only does not hide this, but, on the contrary, weaves this art into her smelly cynical wreath of human fall and debauchery ".
After the revolution and the death of Sergei Mikhailovich, Kshesinskaya and her son fled to Constantinople, and from there to France. In 1921 she married the Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich, receiving the title of Princess Romanovskaya-Krasinskaya. In 1929, she opened her ballet studio in Paris, which enjoyed success thanks to her famous name.
She died at 99 years old, having outlived all her eminent patrons. Debates about her role in the history of ballet continue to this day. And out of all her long life, only one episode is usually mentioned: what connected the ballerina Matilda Kshesinskaya and Nicholas II
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