Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

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This Blog is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history and memories of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, its legendary ballet dancers, choreographers, scenery artists, musicians and composers.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Olga Preobrajenska: February's Featured Ballerina Part I

Olga was born on February 2, 1870 in St.Petersburg and was trained at the Imperial Ballet Academy. She studied with such teachers as Enrico Cecchetti, Christian Johansson, and Nicholas Legat. Olga graduated in 1889 and immediately joined the Maryinsky Theatre. In 1896 she was made a soloist, and four years later, Prima Ballerina. Olga Preobrajenska was one of St. Petersburg's beloved Prima Ballerinas. The audiences loved both her personality and her strong technique. Her extensive repertoire included leading roles in Coppellia, La Fille Mal Gardee, Esmeralda, The Nutcracker, Sleeping Beauty, and Les Sylphides.

Olga dominated the ballet stage for the first two decades of the twentieth century. She appeared in over 700 productions in addition to participating in several tours.

Later, Olga became very well known as a teacher. She started teaching in 1914 while she continued to dance. After leaving the Soviet Union in 1921, Olga taught in Milan, London, Buenos Aires, and Berlin before she settled permanently in Paris in 1923. Nearly every famous dancer of the time was trained by her at "Salle Wacker," including Irina Baronova, Tamara Toumanova, Tatiana Riabouchinska,Igor Youskevitch, Olga Spessiva, Anna Pavlova and Margot Fonteyn. Agrippina Vaganova was also a student of Olga's. Agrippina Vaganova later created her method of dance taught by the Maryinsky Theatre and other major ballet schools, to this day.

It was also in her Paris studio, Salle Wacker, that Balanchine came when looking for young dancers for the Ballets Russes. This is where he found his “baby ballerinas”: Toumanova, Baronova, and Riabouchinskaya.

For many years, Olga's Paris studio, at 69 Rue de Douai, was the unofficial networking centre for the international dance community until it was demolished in 1974. Olga had continued to teach until she was 90 years old, retiring in 1960. She died two years later.

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