By Elena Tchernichova
Dancing on Water is either a private coming-of-age tale and a sweeping examine ballet existence in Russia and the us through the golden age of dance. Elena Tchernichova takes us from her formative years throughout the siege of Leningrad to her mother’s alcoholism and suicide, and from her adoption through Kirov ballerina Tatiana Vecheslova, who entered her into the nation ballet tuition, to her profession within the American Ballet Theatre.
As a pupil and younger dancer with the Kirov, she witnessed the company’s achievements as a castle of vintage ballet, domestic to mythical names—Shelest, Nureyev, Dudinskaya, Baryshnikov—but additionally a hotbed of intrigue and ambition run amok. As ballet mistress of yankee Ballet Theatre from 1978 to 1990, Elena used to be referred to as “the most vital behind-the-scenes strength for switch in ballet today,” by way of fashion journal. She coached stars and corps de ballet alike, and helped mildew the careers of a few of the good dancers of the age, together with Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Gregory, Natalia Makarova, and Alexander Godunov. Dancing on Water is a journey de strength, exploring the top degrees of the realm of dance.
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Extra resources for Dancing on Water: A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT
In one room was displayed a floor-to-ceiling painting of Yermolova. We gathered around our teacher. “I want to introduce you to a great, great Russian actress,” she intoned with an evangelical hush. ” she asked. “Come here. ” “What about your father? ” “I don’t have a father, but he was an engineer. ” “What about your grandmother? ” “She’s just a nice lady. ” She turned to the class. “This girl should be an example to all of you. It’s amazing. ” I was too proud to mention a word about Tatiana. But satisfied that I had absorbed Yermolova’s life story, Tatiana then selected for me a biography of the great Russian basso Fyodor Chaliapin.
I was fitted with a short dark wig. We children hadn’t been given any rehearsal, because we weren’t dancing steps in The Red Poppy; we were just part of the crowd. “Stay close to your ‘parents’ onstage,” was all I had been told by Tyuntina. Tao-Hoa’s cabaret was run by Li Shanfu, a spy for the imperial government. He kept her as his slave, his concubine. An enormous boat steamed into the harbor and a platoon of Russian marines disembarked. One of them visited Li Shanfu’s cabaret and he commanded Tao-Hoa to dance, showing the Russians his prize.
Just relax,” he said. ” They laughed and I thought, Why are they so happy it hurts? I asked them why they were checking my legs. ” So this school was for dancers! I was a little disappointed. For somehow, to me, Choreo graphitschka had initially evoked some type of singing or music academy. “I like her,” Ivanovsky said. Now I would take an academic examination. He took me to the school library and found a teacher who later taught me literature. I wrote dictation and computed numbers. Grades in hand, I walked through the corridors looking for Snetkova, peeking in this room and that.
Dancing on Water: A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT by Elena Tchernichova