By Joel Lobenthal
Alla Osipenko is the gripping tale of 1 of history's maximum ballerinas, a brave insurgent who paid the fee for conversing fact to the Soviet country. She studied with Agrippina Vaganova, the main respected and influential of all Russian ballet teachers, and in 1950, she joined the Mariinsky (then-Kirov) Ballet, the place her strains, shapes, and pursuits either exemplified the venerable traditions of Russian ballet and propelled these traditions ahead into uncharted and experimental nation-states.
She used to be the 1st of her iteration of Kirov stars to enchant the West whilst she danced in Paris in 1956. yet dancing for the institution had its downsides, and Osipenko's sharp tongue and marked independence, in addition to her almost-reckless flouting of Soviet ideas for private and political behavior, quickly came upon her all yet quarantined in Russia. An across the world acclaimed ballerina on the peak of her profession, she chanced on that she might now need to succeed within the face of each try out through the Soviet kingdom and the Kirov management to humble her.
In Alla Osipenko, acclaimed dance author Joel Lobenthal tells Osipenko's tale for the 1st time in English, drawing on forty interviews with the prima ballerina, and tracing her existence from Classical darling to avant-garde insurgent. in the course of the ebook, Osipenko talks frankly and freely in a manner that few Russians of her new release have allowed themselves to. Her voice rises above the incidents as unhesitating and swish as her mythical adagios. Candid, irreverent, and, chiefly, self sufficient -- Osipenko and her tale open a window right into a interesting and little-discussed international.
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Extra info for Alla Osipenko: Beauty and Resistance in Soviet Ballet
They prepared diligently and tried their best. Among future Kirov stars a unanimity prevailed that would not survive later career struggles. “We were friends, like one team,” Osipenko recalled. ” In Perm she studied for one year with Evgenia Vecheslova-Snetkova, a close associate of Vaganova. Her daughter Tatiana was a ballerina in the Kirov and would figure prominently in Osipenko’s later career. But it was teacher Elizaveta Grumova who first tutored her in pointe work. It was a careful, slow progress to full facility on pointe, but for Osipenko and her fellow students, it was, she recalled, “a holiday of the soul,” using the common Russian expression.
Osipenko thought that Shiripina was a better teacher than Komkova. Komkova developed the dancer’s expressiveness. Shirirpina’s priorities were more cut and dried, but she was more meticulous in identifying technical weaknesses. For a while, Osipenko’s grades dipped in academic subjects as well as ballet, but for different reasons altogether. For academics, she had now matriculated into the “A” division, whereas before she had been part of the “B” group. The “A” students were less studious. Rather than stand out, she tried instead to deliberately downplay her readiness in class.
The administration cast soloists in the front line at important performances. Shiripina coached her in her first coryphée roles: the big swans, one of Giselle’s six friends in act 1 and Myrtha’s lieutenant Moyna in act 2. “Her expression was really not nice,” Osipenko said, and her tone of voice just as withering. Very seldom did Shiripina have praise to give. Early on, Osipenko was assigned the adagio variation danced by one of the three solo Shades, a supreme test of line, control, and versatility.
Alla Osipenko: Beauty and Resistance in Soviet Ballet by Joel Lobenthal