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Pronunciation of Ballet Names


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#1 Alexandra

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Posted 10 July 2003 - 12:56 PM

I'm going to make this a sticky. Please feel free to add to it.

If anyone disagrees with a pronunciation, please feel free to raise an objection. In the interests of helpfulness to future readers, when we reach a conclusion, I'll edit out all the back and forth so future generations of Ballet Alertniks don't have to wade through it.

This will be a list of acceptable American pronunciations of non-English names.


Beginning with Big Lee's first questions:

Marius Petipa: Mar yus PET ee pah

Alexandra Danilova: Da NEEL ova

Tamara Toumanova: Too MAHN ova

Rudolf Nureyev: Ru dolf Noo RAY yev

Julia Makhalina: YOO-lee-ah Ma-KHA-lina (thanks, Hans)

Natalia Makarova: Nah TAL ya Ma KAR ova

Svetlana Zakharova: Svet LAHN a Za KAR ova

#2 jorgen

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Posted 12 July 2003 - 11:42 AM

Alexandra, here are some ballerina names with the accent in the right place. Checked with my Russian Ballet Encyclopaedia.

Asylmura'tova Altynai
Ayu'pova Zhanna
Bessme'rtnova Natalia
Che'nchikova Olga
Chistyako'va Irina
Dudi'nskaya Natalia
Evte'yeva Elena
Fe'dorova Sofia
Go'likova Tatiana
Grache'va Nadezhda
Ivano'va Veronika
Karsa'vina Tamara
Kolpako'va Irina
Kondra'tieva Marina
Likho'vskaya Olga
Lopa'tkina Uliana
Maxi'mova Ekaterina
Me'zentseva Galina
Mikha'lchenko Alla
Osipe'nko Alla
Plise'tskaya Maya
Semenya'ka Ludmila
Semizo'rova Nina
Semyo'nova Marina
Sizo'va Alla
Soro'kina Nina
Spessi'vtzeva Olga
Struchko'va Raisa
Te'rekhova Tatiana
Timofey'eva Nina
Trefi'lova Vera
Ula'nova Galina
Veche'slova Tatiana

#3 Alexandra

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Posted 16 July 2003 - 08:15 AM

THANK YOU, Jorgen. That's a big help.

#4 Alexandra

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Posted 17 July 2003 - 06:50 AM

In reading over Jorgen's list, I had a few questions. There are several names that seem to "break the rules," such as:

Fe'dorova Sofia
Go'likova Tatiana
Ivano'va Veronika
Me'zentseva Galina

Can any Russian speakers, or others familiar with these names confirm or clarify?

I've always heard Ivanova pronounced EeVAN o va
and Mezentseva pronounced Me ZEN tse va

#5 Alexandra

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Posted 17 July 2003 - 07:41 AM

I just received an email from someone who confirms Jorgen's accents for Mezentseva and Ivanova. I'm going to leave up both my question and this answer in case there are others who've heard the same mispronunciations as I have.

#6 Hans

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Posted 17 July 2003 - 10:11 AM

Could we add Evdokimova? I'm not sure which syllable to accent.

#7 Alexandra

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Posted 17 July 2003 - 10:20 AM

I've always heard/said: Ev doe KEE moe vah

But after learning that Mezentseva is pronounced stressing the first syllable, I'll wait for some confirmation on that!

#8 carbro

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Posted 17 July 2003 - 11:49 AM

Alexandra's is the only pronunciation I have ever heard for Evdokimova. It may be worth noting, that her name is Russian, she is American by birth and nationality.

#9 Mashinka

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 05:22 AM

I've always heard Ivanova pronounced EeVAN o va

Ivanova is the most confusing name of all as different families pronounce it with the stress on different syllables, so the only way to be certain is to ask

Nureyev is one of the most difficult names to pronounce, even for Russians, as it's not a Russian name. In France his name is spelt as Noureev so perhaps pronouncing it as Noo-ree-yev comes closest.

#10 jorgen

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 06:10 AM

Regarding Eva Evdokimova, her name is Bulgarian. Her father was an emigre from Bulgaria, her mother American. They met as students in Munich. Eva was born 1948 in Geneva, Switzerland, but she got an American passport. She spent most of her childhood and youth in Germany and England. She made her debut in the States only in 1977 when she was 29 years.

#11 Ari

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 06:32 AM

Regarding Jorgen's post about pronouncing Tatiana Terekhova's name — I have a video of La Bayadère with Terekhova as Gamzatti in which the Russian announcer pronounces her name with the stress on the second syllable, which is the way I've always pronounced it. :blushing: She also rolls the "r."

#12 Mel Johnson

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Posted 18 July 2003 - 06:56 AM

I think that mashinka has hit on the property that we've been missing here. All of the names we've mentioned here are of ethnicities and how they are pronounced outside of their own ethnic areas. I guess the only sure way to find out how names are properly said is to ask the person him/herself. Unfortunately, that puts Petipa somewhere out of reach. I have a feeling that many would say, "Say it how you like, just, good or bad, make sure it's spelled correctly in the review!" :blushing:

#13 Marga

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Posted 20 July 2003 - 08:26 AM

Since this thread is currently in the Russian realm, let me add a commonly mispronounced name to it:

Va GA nova (not "Vaga NO' va" as many say it)

#14 cindy

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 07:35 AM

How do you pronounce Kostchei (Kastchei) the evil magician in Firebird? Is there a prefered spelling? I'm labeling costumes as I speak (well type)!

#15 Alexandra

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Posted 25 July 2003 - 07:41 AM

Thanks for Vaganova, Marga -- that's a good one!

Cindy, I've always heard/said KOTCH ki (last syllable to rhyme with pie) but I won't go to the mat on that one :) As for spelling, I think this is another transliteration issue: there can be many interpretations of Cyrillic. The way you've spelled it is the way I've usually seen it, though. Happy sewing!


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