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Alla Osipenko


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#1 canbelto

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 01:17 PM

I've just gotten the "Glory of the Kirov" dvd and there are several excerpts with Alla Osipenko. She really intrigued me -- for one, she seemed very much like a "modern" Mariinsky dancer. Tall, long-limbed, flexible, with a more neoclassical style. In some of her off-balance poses she even looked like she could easily dance Balanchine. In documentaries (Makarova Returns) and biographies (Nureyev's) she also seemed like a very compassionate person, comforting Nureyev in the minutes before he was to be arrested by the KGB, etc. Anyone know anything about her career? Her main roles? What she's doing now?

#2 Marga

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Posted 14 September 2005 - 01:36 PM

My daughter's ballet teacher was in and graduated from Alla Osipenko's (only) class at the Vaganova school. (There is a rare photo of Osipenko's class in Dance Magazine, January 1969, which shows Ms. Osipenko with her students, her arm around the waist of my daughter's teacher, who was 14 at the time!).

A tribute ballet gala was mounted by my daughter's teacher for her in Toronto in 1994, which she attended and in which she coached her former student, my daughter's teacher Nadia Veselova-Tencer, for her performance of the Dying Swan. Many world ballet stars came to Toronto to dance in this tribute performance.

Osipenko was a stellar dancer and, indeed, performed many modern ballets. Her direct competition at the Maryinsky was Irina Kolpakova. Politics being what they were, she had to flee the country because of her refusal to join the Communist Party. She went to France.

She is in her early seventies now (73, if I remember correctly) and I believe she is back in France after living in America for awhile, where she taught primarily in Connecticut, but also in Florida, and other schools in the summer. She was also a judge at the first Youth America Grand Prix competition, both in the regional semi-finals and in the finals. She has suffered her fair share in life, both by being snubbed in the Russian ballet world because of her political views and, outside the ballet world, enduring the death of her son (in his early thirties) a few years ago.

She is actually not tall, but about 5'4" (or even an inch shorter) in height. I think she continues to teach. She also appears in the 2002 movie, Russian Ark, made by director Aleksander Sokurov.

Here is a picture taken when she was in Toronto 11½ years ago (scroll down):

Alla Osipenko, Gennadi Selyutski, Nadia Tencer

#3 Mashinka

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 02:00 AM

Alla Osipenko currently works as a coach with the St Petersburg Ballet Theatre which will be touring the UK from the end of next month.

#4 coda

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Posted 15 September 2005 - 12:53 PM

“Anyone know anything about her career? Her main roles?”

After graduating from Vaganova’s class in 1950 Osipenko joined the Mariinsky and worked there until 1971. The list of her roles is very long. Here are the main ones:
Odette-Odile, Raymonda, Street Dancer and Queen of Driads (Don Q.), Lilac Fairy, Phryghia (Jacobsson’s Spartacus), Masha-Clara (Nutcracker), Desdemona, Mehmene-Banu (Legend of Love), Nikiya and Gamzatti, Queen of the Ball (The Bronze Horseman), Siren (Prodigal Son), Cleopatra, Polish Lady (Taras Bulba), Waltz and Mazurka (Chopiniana). Osipenko was the first and perhaps the best Queen of the Copper Mountain in Grigirovich’s “Stone Flower”.
Longing for more artistic freedom she left Mariinsky for the Jacobsson’s company where she created a number of masterpieces in his one-act ballets and so called ‘choreographic miniatures’, which she danced with her then husband John Markovsky. Some of these pieces are included in “The Glory of the Kirov”.

#5 canbelto

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 04:53 AM

Thanks for all the replies on Osipenko. One thing I noticed in "Makarova Returns" is that Makarova pronounces Osipenko's name like: "Ah-si-pien-ka." I found that interesting.

#6 Mashinka

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 05:01 AM

One thing I noticed in "Makarova Returns" is that Makarova pronounces Osipenko's name like: "Ah-si-pien-ka." I found that interesting.


Thats right. in Russian the letter o is usually pronounced as a short A if it appears in an unstressed syllable, whereas the letter e is generally pronounced ye.

#7 canbelto

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Posted 16 September 2005 - 08:50 AM

I forgot to add that I found it kind of touching that Natalia Makarova described Osipenko as a "friend." I've known several ballet students, including one who studied at the Vaganova Academy, and she said that ballerinas are NOT friendly to each other, EVER. They might admire each other, but friends? No. Ballerinas and male danseurs is a different story. So the fact that Makarova and Osipenko remained friends is to me delightful.

#8 mayichka

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Posted 29 September 2012 - 08:47 AM

I forgot to add that I found it kind of touching that Natalia Makarova described Osipenko as a "friend." I've known several ballet students, including one who studied at the Vaganova Academy, and she said that ballerinas are NOT friendly to each other, EVER. They might admire each other, but friends? No. Ballerinas and male danseurs is a different story. So the fact that Makarova and Osipenko remained friends is to me delightful.

oh yes yes:)) they aaalways talk so nice about eachother,Natalia even payed for Alla's surgery:))ahh Natashinka,i love her so so much

#9 AlbanyGirl

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 06:37 AM

I just read through this thread and, being new to this forum, often forget to check the date the thread began, so I now realize this is an old thread. Given that, I want to share that Ballet Review 's Spring 1998 issue (which I recently picked up in a used bookstore) had an incisive article on Osipenko by Joel Lobenthal. She was a courageous woman who stood up to the Party on a number of occasions. The article describes what Canbelto noted in this thread - that Osipenko had a neoclassical style with her Vaganova training. The article describes Osipenko's distinct approach to her classical roles and goes on to say that when Osipenko was a guest artist with the Maly, Igor Chernichov created Antony and Cleopatra for her and describes Chernichov's choreography as demonstrating "the influence in Europe and Russia of Graham's, Bejart's, and above all Balanchine's companies during the 1960s." ..."watching Osipenko tilt and corkscrew and endlessly reconstitute herself makes it very easy to imagine her in Agon or Episodes". I'll check out that DVD 'Glory of the Kirov'.

#10 Marga

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 03:33 PM

Osipenko was a great dancer. Her staunch anti-communism is to be commended, especially in light of the fact that her career suffered for it. She was rivals with Kolpakova and should have had the same advantages and acclaim - and did, in the beginning, even moreso than Kolpakova - but her political convictions killed her opportunity for advancement and international fame.

As for friendships between ballerinas, it does happen. Years ago Lunkina and Zakharova were best friends; I don't know if that is still the status of their friendship. In ABT there are many female dancers (who would have ballerina status in many other companies) who are besties with each other. Of course, the elephant is always in the room, but times have changed. I don't think too many pins are being placed in pointe shoes these days...

#11 trieste

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Posted 30 September 2012 - 08:18 PM

I've always thought the POB dancers seemed very friendly -- recently, Agnes Letestu designed Dorothee Gilbert's wedding dress! I wouldn't let a 'frenemy' do that for me...

#12 Paul Parish

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Posted 01 October 2012 - 06:22 PM

Here's Osipenko in hte White Swan pdd [with Markovsky], magnificent performance -- much like Makarova's with "singing" phrasing A very poetic dancer.
Let me also underline how illuminating Lobenthal's piece in Ballet Review was for me.
in Raymonda

and here in a neo-classical piece without a name, VERY VERY beautiful, with Nisnevich
fantastic line in this ballet, which has a wonderful attitude/arabesque. [Probably jakobson, huh?]
she's now well-represented on youtube. there's a compilation called "Osipenko the BEST"
I am a fan

#13 leonid17

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 02:17 PM

I first saw Alla Osipenko as a teenager and was struck by the crystalline beauty of her line and her innate nobility.

For those of us who saw both Osipenko and Kopalkhova on the Kirov's first visit to London they set he standard each in their own way and regrettably no such artists remain in the Mariinsky ballet today, or even possess the artistry of the dancer I mention below.

Osipenko is much admired here in London and I had the good fortune to entertain her for an afternoon in Ivy House with the Strozzi family in attendance.

I have noticed there has been some comments about friendships among the Leningrad ballerinas.

It has been my experience that they each share respect for one another's work.

I should also say that in London since their retirement, a number of us have always found Yevteyeva, Komleva and Kunakova in a group always friendly with one another and warmly greeting rogether those whom they have known over many decades.

#14 Drew

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Posted 06 October 2012 - 03:51 PM

I first saw Alla Osipenko as a teenager and was struck by the crystalline beauty of her line and her innate nobility.


A line of crystalline beauty and innate nobility does come through in those youtube excerpts (thank you Paul Parish for posting). If only they were still dancing like that at the (now) Mariinsky...

#15 macnellie

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Posted 16 June 2013 - 03:46 PM

Where did she teach in the US?


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