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 Post subject: Natalia Bessmertnova has died
PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2008 9:21 am 
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Natalia Bessmertnova has died at the age of 66: http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080219/en ... ssmertnova


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PostPosted: Wed Feb 20, 2008 11:08 am 
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I have to confess to shedding a tear at the news of the death of Natalia Bessmertnova, one of the true stars of the ballet firmament and a dancer of very special gifts. Although most famous for her roles in Giselle and Swan Lake, she was also the inspiration for the female leads in most of her husband Yuri Grigorovich’s ballets. In a way she became a little type cast as her soulful face was perfect for tragic ballets but I still remember her as one of the best Kitris I ever saw; with her soaring jump and dark, almost Spanish looks she was perfect for the role.

Bessmertnova forged a wonderful partnership with her contemporary, Mikhail Lavrovsky, a very forceful dancer with a powerful technique. They formed a contrast rather like Fonteyn and Nureyev but still complemented one another perfectly, her later partner, Mukhamedov, lacked Lavrovsky’s innate elegance, but was considered at the time the most suitable male dancer for Grigorovich’s male roles.

Quite a number of recordings of Bessmertnova’s performances exist, the bulk of them were made in the late 1980’s when her technique was slipping a little, however there are at least two earlier recordings of Giselle and Romeo & Juliet (both with Mikhail Lavrovsky) that show her at her very best.

Natalia Bessmertnova was a descendent of Russia’s national poet, Alexander Pushkin and clearly inherited her ancestor’s gift of poetry as few dancers were capably of such poetic and at times almost unearthly dancing as Bessmertova, whether as Juliet, Giselle or Phrygia she elevated all the characters she portrayed to a higher plane.

In English Bessmertnova’s name means literally: ‘without death’, in other words her surname means immortal. For me, no name was ever as apt.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 3:56 am 
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I saw Bessmertnova when she was in her fifties, so I was not as lucky as Cassandra. However, her early recording of Giselle was an inspiration when I was a student back in Spain... as was her interpretation of the Tango in The Golden Age...

I remember a friend telling me (to my surprise) that she was the best Kitri he had seen as she had shown an unsuspected flair for comedy, beautiful jump and joie de vivre in the role. Thanks Cassandra for ratifying this memory of her!!

It is very sad when these great artists die... they were part of a glorious past...


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 5:51 am 
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I’ve found just two obituaries of Bessmertnova so far, presumably because as her death was so untimely, none had been written about her in advance. The BBC’s is purely factual without offering opinions.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/entertainment/7254007.stm

Unfortunately the writer of the anonymous obit in The Telegraph seems to be using the tragic death of his wife as an opportunity to make snide criticisms of Yuri Grigorovich. That is just not on in my book and in very poor taste under the circumstances.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/main.jh ... db2002.xml

Perhaps a dislike of Grigorovich’s ballets was the reason for this howler:

Quote:
………the spectacularly acrobatic overhead lifts which became Grigorovich's trademark, particularly noted in Spartacus, in which at one point the heroine Phrygia resembles a starfish balancing on Spartacus's outstretched hand.


Quite wrong. The very distinctive ‘starfish lift’ is performed by Aegina and Crassus, the ballet’s villains, and not by Phrygia and Spartacus.

Nor did I like the assertion that:

Quote:
For British balletomanes she acquired added interest on tours in the 1980s by virtue of her virile and much younger partner, Irek Mukhamedov, the spectacular new Bolshoi star who revitalised her career in her mid-forties………….


Wasn’t it the other way round? I would have thought that it was dancing with Bessmertnova that enhanced his career rather than him adding kudos to someone considered a world great for over two decades.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 7:49 am 
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Comments from another topic, now closed:

http://www.ballet-dance.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=31181


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 21, 2008 6:00 pm 
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Quote:
Nor did I like the assertion that:

Quote:
For British balletomanes she acquired added interest on tours in the 1980s by virtue of her virile and much younger partner, Irek Mukhamedov, the spectacular new Bolshoi star who revitalised her career in her mid-forties………….


Wasn’t it the other way round? I would have thought that it was dancing with Bessmertnova that enhanced his career rather than him adding kudos to someone considered a world great for over two decades.


Yes Cassandra! It was indeed the opposite. It was she who put Mukhamedov on the map when he took over the role of "Spartacus."
It was the early 80s when Grigorovich gave him his start. He then went on to partner Semenyaka and other Bolshoi primas.


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PostPosted: Tue Feb 26, 2008 10:27 am 
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An obit appearing in the Boston Globe:
Quote:
Natalia Bessmertnova, 66, prima ballerina of Bolshoi
By Associated Press / February 26, 2008

MOSCOW - Natalia Bessmertnova, a Soviet-era prima ballerina who danced with the Bolshoi Ballet for decades, died Feb. 19, a spokeswoman for the ballet said. She was 66.

Ms. Bessmertnova died at a Moscow hospital after suffering from a grave illness, Yekaterina Novikova said, but she would not specify the cause of death. Russian media reported that Ms. Bessmertnova had kidney trouble.

More...


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:32 am 
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Three more obituaries from the UK.

From The Guardian:

http://arts.guardian.co.uk/theatre/obit ... 35,00.html

From The Independent:

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obitu ... 86128.html

and The Times:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/commen ... 405316.ece


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