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No article on the death of Kchessinska


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15 replies to this topic

#1 Solor

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 08:15 PM

I have a BIG box FULL of old Dance Magazines from the late 60s up through the early 80s.

I went digging for an article on the death of Mathilde Kschessinska in 1971 (at the age of 99) but found nothing! She was the last Imperial Prima and the teacher of many great dancers and yet, no article on her life! What Gives?

She is my favorite historical figure when it comes to the Imperial ballet, and I was very angry that Dance Mag, of all publications, did not even mention anything about her in ANY issue of that year.

I was very angry when I found nothing about the woman in any issue from that year. So what gives? Anyone notice this as well?

Anyone know any good links to any info on this great woman? Or other primas from the Imperial Ballet?

#2 carbro

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Posted 20 April 2005 - 10:40 PM

Is this their way of saying she's immortal? It does seem a huge omission.

#3 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 21 April 2005 - 02:53 AM

She died in December of 1971 and I found three articles on her death in dance related magazines the next month:
Dance Magazine. January 1972.
Dance News. January 1972.
The Dancing Times also had an obituary in January 1972. Different sources seem to give her date of death as either December 6, 7 or 8 of 1971, I don't know which one is right.

#4 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 03:20 PM

Agree, Solor, she must have been really something. Not only living to such an age, which means she was physically very strong - but having gone through what she did, she must have been a mentally very strong person as well.
She always fascinated me - because she was a very tough customer, I think.
Some years ago I did a radio lecture on her on the Swedish State radio. Then, some other lectures on women were assembled and issued in a book which was called "Strong women"!!! My lecture was there and I think she was in good company: Jezebel - Rosa Luxemburg, Madame Tussaud, Florence Nightingale et al.
There must have been some very scary moments in her life - and some very glorious ones, too. However, she was a survivor - I think you are born like that.
Maybe she was not always such a nice person, but we should not judge her because we were not in her circumstances.
However, I usually start feeling rather benign towards the characters I write about
and I would have liked to have met her, alas, I never danced in Paris. But through my research and visits to St. Petersburg, I almost feel I know her and the Imperial epoch at the Maryinsky Theater.
I suppose you have read her biography - rather shallow stuff I think, but it gives a good view of the epoch. :yahoo:

#5 Solor

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 09:21 PM

Yes I have read it! "Dancing in St Petersburg". If only you knew how much I paid for it :) . Ive always wished Id met her, Preobrajenska as well. Her book is shallow I guess, but hey, she was very successful, and really had not to many bad things to report. BTW Pamela, have you read Karsavina's memoirs? A very good tale she had to tell. Another great woman!

As for the article in the January 1972 mag (Mme. Hermine), of all the magazines I dont have in my collection I dont have this one! Feb. and June of '72 are gone as well. But at least they said something about her.

I bet Madame Kchessinska stayed healthy, no doubt from dancing, ate natural food (due to the time she lived in - No McDonalds then!) and since she was of wealthy parents Im sure she had good health care. And, no doubt, having a full happy life helped!

Hopefully, when its my time to say BYE BYE to the good ole earth, Madame K. will be among the people who have passed on I want to meet. :yahoo: Along with Josephine Baker, Balanchine, Petipa, Elvis, Marilyn, Billie Holiday, Fonteyn, and Nureyev.

#6 Mel Johnson

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Posted 22 April 2005 - 10:24 PM

Re: K's diet, it was probably not "pioneer woman" fare. Remember, she was married to an offshoot of the Imperial Family. Blini with osetra caviar may be rather natural, but not in the way you mean. Her rather improvident husband went bust, and she ended up Cecchetti-style, collecting tuition in an old cigar box.

#7 Solor

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Posted 23 April 2005 - 12:52 AM

Pioneer woman? :yahoo: LOL!!!!I just meant that, well, unlike these days, there were like, no preservatives in food. You know, like, no "chef boy are dee" or microwave artificial nourishment, Pre-packaged lunchables and stuff like that. LOL! Gosh I crack me up. Hopefully you get what I meant by she ate "natural" food, which Im sure contributed to her advanced age.

But whats this tuition collecting thing? I must refer to her memoirs - I dont recall this.

#8 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 23 April 2005 - 02:05 AM

have to assume mel is talking about her teaching in paris and collecting tuition from students?

#9 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 April 2005 - 03:14 AM

The Major Food Groups of the Victorian and Edwardian world were: Salt, sugar, fat, starch, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. Think of the way that Russians have blini, and you've got four of those. And Nicky Dear, her husband, went bust even before it was fashionable to do so. She taught in order to keep bodies and souls together. She didn't write much about how she did it and not at all about why. There was a time when bankruptcy was referred to as "financial embarrassment".

#10 Pamela Moberg

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Posted 23 April 2005 - 03:18 PM

Yes, Solor darling, I have not only read Karsavina´s book - I have it. My favorite ballet book. So beautiful, so evocative of old St. Petersburg. By the way, if you want to read something that captures the spirit of those days, please read "Reminiscenses of the Russian Ballet" by Alexandre Benois. Wonderful stuff! I found it in an antiquarian book shop for approx. $ 7 !
My copy of Little. K's book I paid 10 GBP for - about 15 years ago.
While on the subject of ballet books, I think this (Sweden) is a great country for finding old ballet books at hardly any cost. People havent a clue and they are all dumped in the odd bin. The other day I found a good copy of "Letters on dancing and ballets" by Noverre for US$ 4!!!
So folks, if you want ballet books, come to Sweden!
I have some books that I actually want to sell and I know they cost an enormous amount of money in the US. The shipping also costs an enormous amount, so one needs to know someone traveling. :wink:

#11 Solor

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Posted 23 April 2005 - 09:26 PM

Thnx Pamela :wink: . I was told that the book by Benois was a great piece of work by an old teacher of mine.

Yes - One day I want to travel to Europe. I would even love to live there. I lived in Germany with my parents when I was little, but I was 3 when we left.

But yes, I must hunt down the book by Benois.

#12 Mme. Hermine

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 03:05 AM

And still she lived to be 99! :blink:

The Major Food Groups of the Victorian and Edwardian world were:  Salt, sugar, fat, starch, caffeine, tobacco and alcohol. 

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#13 Mel Johnson

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 04:00 AM

And of course, there's lifestyles issues: "Tsk, the poor little thing, can't dance at all; Nicky Dear, push her down a flight of stairs for me, will you? There's a love."

#14 rg

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 04:54 AM

if i can manage the transfer, i'll post a few photos of Mathilde Felixovna Kshessinska on ballet history.

#15 Ari

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Posted 24 April 2005 - 05:23 AM

But yes, I must hunt down the book by Benois.

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The Benois book was reprinted in the 70s as a trade paperback by Da Capo Press, but it's currently out of print. There are some used copies available through Alibris and Abebooks, but it's also worth keeping an eye out at used book stores.

Both of those sites also list copies of Benois's memoirs, which I don't believe I've read. Has anyone? How does it differ from Reminiscences of the Russian Ballet?


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