CriticalDance Forum

Galina Ulanova
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Author:  coda [ Wed Jan 08, 2003 9:50 am ]
Post subject:  Galina Ulanova

Today is the 93rd anniversary since the birth of Galina Ulanova. In the "Soviet Ballet" book by Iris Morley piblished in London in 1945, I found these lines:
"Again and again I have tried to discover what it is in her proportions that achieves that unigue loveliness. It seems to be a mixture of something lissom and fragile with an inner strength, the way the supple swelling curve of her forearm running through the violin shape of the body is balanced by an equal curve in thigh and calf. If you can imagine a dancer's movements leaving a path in the air, Ulanova's would inscribe something like the ripple of water where a cascade flows into a lake…
… No work of art in painting or sculpture or music and few in literature have moved me as has the dancing of Ulanova. She has left me with memories whose enduring pictures remind me of how in "Wuthering Heights" Catharine Earnshow cries out to Nellie: "I have dreamt in my life dreams that have stayed with me ever after and changed my ideas; they've gone through and through me like wine through water and altered the colour of my mind."
She was not just lovely and touching to see in a performance, her pure image remained haunting and stayed with you - in many cases, thank God, forever.
Just to remind you:
- and find "Galina Ulanova" there.
Then go to "Personalities" and find "Ulanova Galina"

<small>[ 08 January 2003, 11:09 AM: Message edited by: coda ]</small>

Author:  djb [ Wed Jan 08, 2003 1:58 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Galina Ulanova

I wish I had Plisetskaya's autobiography with me at work so I could quote what she said about Ulanova. The gist of it was that Ulanova's dancing never deteriorated into a dancer simply performing steps, but rather her technique was always an expression of the dramatic intent of the role. A friend of mine said that Ulanova's dancing always looks "less choreographed" than that of other dancers.

Author:  Stuart Sweeney [ Fri Mar 21, 2003 1:40 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Galina Ulanova

5th Anniversary of Galina Ulanova's Death
From Pravda

Friday, March 21 is the fifth anniversary of the death of the great Russian ballerina Galina Ulanova /1910-1998/.

The future ballet dancer, People's Artist of the USSR and Hero of Socialist Labor was born to aristocratic parents. Graduating from the Leningrad Choreographic School, where she had been tutored by her mother and by Agrippina Vaganova, in 1928, she immediately joined the ballet troupe of the Leningrad Theater of Opera and Ballet, or the Kirov Theater as it would be named later. Between 1944 and 1960, she was a soloist with the ballet troupe of the Bolshoi Theater.

Ulanova's characters emanated fragility, defencelessness and femininity /Giselle in a ballet by Adam/ while having an unbending strength and heroic spirit /Maria in "The Fountain of Bakhchisarai" or Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet"/.

click for more

Author:  coda [ Sat May 15, 2004 4:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Galina Ulanova

Vladimir Vassilyev prepared a concert at the Bolshoi in Moscow to celebrate Galina Ulanova's graduation from Marinsky Ballet School. See this website:

Author:  Cassandra [ Wed Feb 09, 2005 5:05 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Galina Ulanova

Galina Ulanova's former home has opened as a museum in Moscow.

Author:  kurinuku [ Sat May 21, 2005 6:37 am ]
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Homage to Galina Ulanova, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow
By CLEMENT CRISP for the Financial Times

I was greatly impressed by the passionate grace of the Bolshoi's Svetlana Lunkina and Ruslan Skvortsov in Béjart's Romeo. It closed with Uliana Lopatkina as The Dying Swan. (Ecstasy from the public.)

published: May 20, 2005

Author:  coda [ Sat May 21, 2005 3:45 pm ]
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More than with the passage about Lunkina/Skvortsov/Lopatkina I was impressed with this:

"... the most touching tribute of all came when Vladimir Vasiliev spoke of a letter Ulanova received during the war from "Soldier Alexander Dorogush": "Dear Galina Sergeyevna: a photograph of you in Swan Lake stands on the table in our dug-out. The photograph bears the traces of fascist bullets. We found it in a village from which, two days ago, we ousted the enemy. Now, every day, we place flowers before your photograph." Another letter, from a terribly wounded soldier, said: "I survived only because I had your unforgettable images stored in my memory."

Author:  fedora [ Thu Mar 23, 2006 7:34 pm ]
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Coda, this letter that you quoted … is beautiful beyond belief. Speaking about power of art and the triumph of human spirit! As I read it the first time, I felt my own tears started to make their way down, and then I just let it go...

Thank you for sharing this moment of incredible beauty with us! Galina is dancing with the Angles!


Author:  coda [ Fri Mar 24, 2006 4:31 pm ]
Post subject: 

It's amazing, Fedora, that you found my message almost a year after it had been posted. It reached you because, apparently, those quotations HAD to reach you since you were so moved by them.
I don't know whether you read in Russian but if you do I can tell you that a new book about Ulanova came out in Russia recently. It is called "I Did Not Want to Dance" and was written by a ballet critic Sania Davlekamova who kept a close contact with Ulanova during the last 25 years of her life and recorded everything that Ulanova said to her: her thoughts, her memories, etc. Fascinating!

Author:  fedora [ Sun Mar 26, 2006 8:52 pm ]
Post subject: 

Dear Coda, you really have re-ignited my interest in Galina Ulanova. A friend of mine sent me this article about Galina, which might be of interest to you. It’s from some Russian publication, not sure which one, but I happen to know the name of its author - Natalia Kolesova.
Soldiers and balletomanes, composers and artists - people from all walks of life, were going wild from seeing Ulanova in Giselle, Swan lake, Fountain of Bahchesarai, Romeo and Juliet, The Swan. Yet she always remained aloof, for which she was called “The Silent One”.

There seemed to be a touch of scandal surrounding the names of quite a few Bolshoi primas, some of whom were girlfriends of members of Politburo. One was bathed in a tub filled with Champaign, another … well no point going on with the subject …Nothing of the sort where Ulanova was concerned. There was simply nothing to gossip about.

She almost had no close friends, yet remained correct and painfully polite even with those who were closest to her. After her break with her partner and choreographer Konstanin Sergeev, she moved from St. Petersburg (then Leningrad) to Moscow, yet she always remained a St. Petersburg ballerina.

She didn’t reach out neither for wealth, nor for glory. It all came to her on its own. Ulanova lived a modest apartment in the Kotelniki quarters. It was sort of state within the state, inhabited by artistic and military elite. During last years of her life, she was short of money to keep a five-room apartment of hers and moved into a smaller one. In fact by that time, most objects of luxury were already gone. It’s not that she despised wealth, it’s just that she didn’t care. She didn’t care much about fir coats, or “Volga” automobiles ridden by other ballet luminaries of the period. In fact when her own car was stolen, she showed no emotion at all.

The number of awards bestowed upon the great ballerina was staggering. No communist leader had that many. People’s Artist, Hero of Social Labor … four times! Laureate of numerous State prizes, Laureate of Anna Pavlova Award from the Paris Academy of Dance, Milan's award of Oscar Parcelli Life devoted to Dance . Ulanova was honorary member of American Academy of Arts and Sciences and more.

Ulanova was not a ravishing beauty: small eyes, pale and without exquisite ballet lines. Magic of her talent lied in heightened spirituality of her dance combined with minimalistic means of expression and the rarest compatibility with the tastes of the period. Her heroines were neither idols, nor sex symbols. Ulanova was pure as mountain snow. And it’s exactly that kind of purity that made her a Queen.

Galina Ulanova didn't show interest in politics, unlike Natalia Bessmertnova, Yuri Grigorovich' wife, who was deputy to the Supreme Soviet. She took part in State concerts - and that’s about it. When the Bolshoi was in the grips of scandal between the old Bolshoi boss Yuri Grigorovich and his successor, Vladimir Vasilev, Ulanova remained neutral.

On her every visit to Paris, Rudolph Nureev was trying to meet with her, yet Ulanova ever so delicately declined. Alas, in Soviet days, even human dignity had its limits.

*** *** ***

Author:  coda [ Mon Mar 27, 2006 5:36 pm ]
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Dear Fedora,
I keep the original Russian version of Kolesova’s article about Ulanova in my files; it was published on the website called "Lyudi" (People) -
Unfortunately, I found quite a few inaccuracies there, some of them probably occurred during translation from Russian. Perhaps there is no need to list them here but one has to be refuted. It is one which mentiones her lines.
I can assure you: Ulanova’s lines were IMPECCABLY BEAUTIFUL, second to none. I saw her on stage many times. You can see her perfect lines in every recording of her. And here is what Maya Plisetskaya wrote about Ulanova in her “Autobiography”:
“What astonished me it was the lines of her body. Here she had no equals. Her arabesques looked as if drawn by a finely sharpened pencil. She had remarkably “educated” feet, I saw it immediately. It was as if she was speaking quietly through her feet. Her beautiful arms made every pose complete. There was not a single sloppy step throughout the whole performance.»

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