Galina Ulanova, great Russian dancer
“She was an angel and she danced like one”, said Maya Plisetskaya.
Galina Ulanova was one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century. She was a muse of dance.
Pretty girl was born on January 8, 1910 into a family of renowned Mariinsky Ballet dancer, Sergey Ulanov. You know, Galina’s first teacher was her mother, great dancer Maria Romanova.
At first little girl didn’t want to study ballet. She was fond of swimming and fishing, and dreamed of becoming a sailor.
However, the carefree childhood came to an end when Galina was nine years old. The girl entered the Petrograd Choreographic School. Initially she was taught by her mother and then icon of the Russian ballet Agrippina Vaganova became her teacher.
In 1922, when Slava Zakharov and Galya Ulanova danced the mazurka among other pupils of the Leningrad Choreographic School, no one could guess that the girl would be a great dancer and the boy would be a famous choreographer…
Young Ulanova finished school on May 16, 1928 and joined the Mariinsky Theatre. In 1944, when her fame reached Joseph Stalin, he transferred her to the Bolshoi Theatre, where she would be the prima ballerina for 16 years.
In 1929, 19-year-old Ulanova danced as Odette-Odile in The Swan Lake.
Also she danced in The Fountain of Bakhchisaray (1933, it was a big event in the theatrical life of Leningrad), Lost Illusion (1935), Romeo and Juliet (1940), Tao-Hoa in Red Poppy (1949), Katrina in the Stone Flower (1954) and many others.
Awesome Ulanova and Konstantin Sergeev were unique lyrical duet of the Leningrad Theater. Their performance of Romeo and Juliet in the ballet by Sergei Prokofiev was awesome. Then Ulanova went to Moscow and Sergeev stayed in Leningrad. So wonderful duet broke up. Since then Konstantin never danced Romeo with another partner.
In 1942, Galina worked in Alma-Ata (Kazakh State Academic Opera and Ballet Theatre). Then, in 1945, she performed in Vienna, and a few years later she danced in Stockholm and London, Paris and Sofia.
By the way, she was called a symbol of Soviet and Russian ballet.
On December 29, 1960 at the Bolshoi Theatre her farewell performance was held.
Besides, Ulanova starred in six films.
For more than thirty years the great ballerina worked as a dance teacher.
Ulanova wrote a small book, The Making of a Ballerina, which was translated from the Russian language by S. Rosenberg in 1950.
The grand opening of the monument to Ulanova was in 1990 in Stockholm. It was the first and only monument to the Russian person abroad, errected during her lifetime.
“She is not just a brilliant dancer. She showed us how beautiful natural human feelings are – good, truth, beauty”, said the President of the International Dance Council, Bengdta Hegger.
Now Ulanova’s flat in Moscow is a national museum.
“Ordinary Goddess” – said about Ulanova Alexei Tolstoy. “Person from another dimension” called her Sergei Eisenstein. “The genius of Russian Ballet” said Sergei Prokofiev. “I am from another century” – said Ulanova sadly.
She left this world at the age of 89, on March 21, 1998. Brilliant Galina Ulanova was a whole era of Soviet ballet.
To tell the truth, all her men were much older than Galina.
17-year-old Ulanova married balding concertmaster Isaac Melikov. Her second marriage with the conductor of the Mariinsky Theatre, Eugene Antonovich Dubovsky, who was 12 years older, was also short-lived.
Galina met her husband, handsome actor Yuri Zavadsky, who was sixteen years older, in 1930 in Barvikha. For Ulanova it was the first and last official marriage, for Zavadsky – the last and main.
In 1918, Marina Tsvetaeva was in love with a brilliant Zavadsky and even devoted the cycle of poems The Comedian to him.
Ulanova and Zavadsky weren’t officially divorced. Until his death, she was his best friend, inspiration and just the woman he loved.
Actually, Ulanova had a love affair with actor and director Ivan Bersenyev. They were together for two years. He died in 1951 in her arms…
In the late 1950s Galina met artist Vadim Ryndin. Eventually Ulanova left him as he drank a lot.
She didn’t have children. Years later Galina confessed that her parents “didn’t allow her to have children”.
“Ballerina should not have children if she doesn’t want to say goodbye to her life on stage”, – said her mother once.
According to several people, who were close to Ulanova, shortly before her death great ballerina destroyed all papers, from which it was possible to learn something about her private life…