oda, 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.
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