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grace

BARONOVA Autobiography

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having SOOOOOOOOO enjoyed the fonteyn book(daneman), and having unfortunately got to the end of it, a while back...i felt encouraged to try another biography, and have just bought the paperback of Irina Baronova's autoiography, which was relased in australia in time for christmas. with a GORGEOUS cover and dust jacket.

i just dipped into it, in more or less the middle, and then near the end, last night. and was a bit staggered to see that the whole book covers her life up to some time in 1967 when her (second) husband, cecil tennant, died. the ensuing 38 years are covered in approximately one and a half pages, in which she basically states that she doesn't want to recall all that time of her life, since she lost him.

she is now 86 years old, and living in a lovely part of coastal australia, with her daughter. i met Baronova a couple of times - once in england and once in australia - and have the utmost respect for her. but this approach - which obviously one ALSO has to respect and have sympathy for - is strikingly wierd, wouldn't you say?

and disappointing when one wants to learn about people and how they deal with their lives - especially the hard parts.

another section which i read last night, described her (2nd) husband's proposal, with his (several days later) totally UNexplained insistence that she must give up ALL her ties to ballet, and all her ballet friends, if she was going to marry him. he gave her 48 hours to decide! without explanation. and she accepted that. and accepted him.

i guess it WAS 1949...but still...

a review i read described the book as "not reflective" - i guess that's true! :D

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This is getting weirder and weirder - would somebody kindly sort out for me!

For a start, I always dutifully pencil in the date of death, when a dancer passes away, in my Koegler. There I have noted that Irina Baronova died in 2002. She probably lives somewhere else now, but certainly not in Australia!

Furthermore that her husband did not want her to have anything to do with the dance world. First I think it is preposterous, if any presumptive husband - or for that matter a friend - laid down such laws to me, I would kick that person right out of the door, even if he was stinking rich. Well, that was merely a personal aside.

Then, I have a very vivid memory of attending master classes that she held in London, somewhere in Holland Park. That must have been either 1959 or 196o.

Good classes and she looked absolutely stunning. Another stunning person also taking class there was the Canadian ballerina Lois Smith.

Baronova was also a member of the Royal Academy of Dancing and those classes must have been held at the Academy premises.

I cannot possibly have dreamt all this? Or? :D

Must get hold of that autobiography though.

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According to the Ballet Russe film, Baranova was living in Australia, at least at the time of post-production.

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She evidently was a guest on an Australian radio program on March 10, 2005. Settled in Australia in 1999, according to the radio bio.

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she states in the book that her huband (cecil tennant) required her to give up associating with ballet for 5 years after their marriage - that was what he told her he required of her, if they were to be married.

within a page or 2 of describing this ultimatum, one old ballet friend (tamara finch) gets back in touch with her - just married to the actor peter finch. tennant encourages her to invite the finches over. baronova herself says she regarded this as odd. i haven't read further to see how OTHER old friends were dealt with.

but i HAVE read the bit that says she started to do barre at home, as was her daily custom, the next day - and then realised with silent tears that there was no longer any need to (do barre), since she had decided to accept tennant's ultimatum, in order to marry him.

bearing in mind that i haven't read much more than this, i HAVE noticed, from the book, that it appears that he died in a car accident approximately 17 years later (1967) - after they had had several children.

at some undefined point, (presumably in the 1960's) she was invited by fonteyn (as president of the RAD) to do several things for them. she tells foneyn that she has promised her husband to have nothing to do with ballet, so fonteyn requests an invitation to lunch, to personally persuade tennant. fonteyn's approach was successful.

14 chapters cover her life from 1920 to 1967 (his death), with "Ballet again" being the first topic of the final chapter (relating fonteyn's RAD & lunch invitations), and his death being the final topic of that SAME chapter.

so that should help to explain some of the points brought up by posters, above - but i can't (yet!!) explain the classes in holland park in 1959 or '60, that pamela moberg mentions...

please give me time to read more!

i don't want to hurry through it, just to satisfy people's curiosity, as i would like to really enjoy the journey...

as far as i can tell at this point, she wrote her book in byron bay, where she lives, in 2005 - so i guess she didn't die in '02...

she has done some radio interviews in australia very recently - just before THIS christmas - to promote the book. i think she might be alive ! :cool:

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Yikes---a very quick search of Google revealed an interview with Baronova on 3/10/05, and said she was 86 at the time---information on her death may be a bit premature.... :cool:

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glad to hear that, atm711. :cool:

elsewhere at this board, there is a discussion about the ballets russes film. i haven't read it yet, but i notice that, in the book's acknowledgements, baronova writes "on behalf of all my colleagues in Colonel de Basil's Ballet Russe, I extend my immense gratitude to Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller, for the magnificent documentary they have made on our company and our times Ballets Russes".

i always assumed that both the word Ballet and the word Russe should be plural, in the company's title - as the film is titled (in the quote above), but when Baronova refers to the company (in the quote above), she uses the singular of both words... just an odd thought...

the book is titled "IRINA - Ballet, Life and Love" and is published by Penguin.

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What may have happened in the case of the "Ballets Russes" to "Ballet Russe" is that when said quickly, they are indistinguishable to the English-hearing ear. And most times when said slowly, too.

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I recall a book of photos of dancers published in the 1950s. It included a posed shot of Baronova, and I remember thinking (this is very long ago): She is the most beautiful dancer I've ever seen.

I was thinking of her face and upper body. But I'd love to hear more about her dancing.

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I recall a book of photos of dancers published in the 1950s.  It included a posed shot of Baronova, and I remember thinking (this is very long ago):  She is the most beautiful dancer I've ever seen..

There is no shortage of beauties among her fellow dancers on the Ballets Russe film site. I've just discovered Rochelle Zide.

Grace, does Baranova say why her husband made such an unreasonable demand? Jealousy and insecurity?

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She is the most beautiful dancer I've ever seen.

I see her face every time I turn on my computer---it is a beautiful black and white photograph of Riabouchinska, Toumanova and Baronova in Sylphides costumes in an empty dance studio. I missed seeing her on the ballet stage by about a year. At the time, she was a member of Ballet Theater but left in the early 40's. However, I was determined to see her on a stage. In the late 40's she appeared in a Broadway musical---something called 'Follow the Fleet' or 'Follow the Boys'--it starred Jackie Gleason :cool: . I don't recall the story line--but she did wear a classical short tutu.

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When I was writing my preview for the Ballet Russes film, I started to think about Baranova and her children. I don't know why I hadn't thought about it, but it ends up actress Victoria Tennant is Baranova's daughter. You can just tell from VT's bone structure (if you can remember from various films she appeared in, especially that of her then-husband, Steve Martin).

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0005481/

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Well, recall the similar demand Julian made in The Red Shoes. Back in the day, it was often considered shameful for wives to work, especially "on the stage."

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Well, recall the similar demand Julian made in The Red Shoes. Back in the day, it was often considered shameful for wives to work, especially "on the stage."

In Tony Palmer's documentary Margot one of Roberto Arias' female relatives says that it was remarkable for a Latin man in the 60's to allow his wife to work after marriage. I suppose it was very enlightened to allow one's wife to fund one's political campaigns and lifestyle and to be on the road enough not to be an interference, but as his relative said, it wasn't standard behavior. (Reading Henry James and Edith Wharton, it sounds like standard behavior was finding an heiress of industry.)

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Well Tito said (according to the Daneman bio), "Why stop a good racehorse?" Tito Arias was also intermittently employed, and Margot pretty much supported them.

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Grace, does Baranova say why her husband made such an unreasonable demand?
no, kfw - at least not in the sections that i have read. this is what is bothering me.

even *I* feel a need to understand - so why didn't SHE?!? (or maybe she DID, but she doesn't explain).

i guess we are all different ... and the standards of 1949 were very different to those of today - but i still find it 'mindblowing'...

sorry it took me so long to respond. i posted a response and then the computer 'lost' it. then i ran out of patience with my internet connection, which has been giving me problems since recent re-connection.

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Unreasonable demands on the part of the husband? I wonder...he might have detected in her a need for a change, and to live a more 'normal' life, and he was the one to give her a push towards it. Katharine Hepburn maintained for years that you could not have children and a career and do justice to both....(especially such a demanding one)

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just to say that i looked on AMAZON, and cannot see the book, there - so presumably it is not released in america yet - which you'd think is really a missed opportunity for the publishers, since you (in USA) have seen this ballets russes film which WE have not yet heard about in australia...

releasing the two at once would have seemed to make sense to li'l ole me! :)

mind you - it's nice, just for ONCE - to have access to a book BEFORE 'you people'!

you "ALWAYS" (said in whiny voice) get stuff first!!! :nopity:

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I have just finished reading the book and it is a great prep for the upcoming Ballets Russes DVD. It gives a very sympathetic portrayal of Col. de Basil, so different from what has been generally written. When her second husband asked her to stop dancing prior to their marriage, she had not performed much for the past seven years. In 1942 she left Ballet Theatre and danced sporadically after that. She danced with Massine's Ballet Russe Highlights for a couple of months, danced at the Roxy Theatre in NYC (ouch! 5 shows a day), and joined deBasil one more time for a two month tour of Cuba and Rio. For most of this time she appeared in plays, a musical and a play with the young Yul Brynner. Ballet Theatre always wanted her back, but she reasoned that without Fokine (who died in 1942) she would not feel comfortable working with Tudor or deMille. A false assumption, I think since there was lots of a familiar repertory for her to dance. My feeling is that she wanted to stop, and was receptive to her husband's push.

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Unreasonable demands on the part of the husband? I wonder...he might have detected in her a need for a change, and to live a more 'normal' life, and he was the one to give her a push towards it. Katharine Hepburn maintained for years that you could not have children and a career and do justice to both....(especially such a demanding one)

With all due respect, atm711, and without having read the book myself, I must say that Tennant's ultimatum sounds like rather more than a 'push.' Perhaps Baronova was indeed ready to quit, and that would be understandable, but I'm not sure if you can put a favorable gloss on 'abandon your career or lose me for good.' Maybe she was on the brink -- but that doesn't excuse him.

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Well in defense of Tennant that was a different time, when anything associated with the stage had a somewhat scandalous connotation. If Fonteyn had married a more upstanding Panamanian, she might have retired too. It was for the good of ballet history that Tito turned out to be a freeloading playboy.

I remember reading Giulietta Simionato's biography. She always had a good voice, but her mother said she'd kill her (yes, it was a death threat) if Giulietta continued singing lessons and sang onstage. Her mother passed away when Simionato was young, which is why we even know about Giulietta Simionato.

Perhaps that's why Balanchine didn't want his "girls" getting married. He grew up in a time when marriage often meant the end of a career.

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Tennant was a talent agent, very chummy with the Oliviers among many others, and his and Baronova’s daughter became an actress (Victoria). If he combined all this with an ingrained prejudice against the theatre, he must have had a very difficult time of it. :clapping:

Of course, Alec Guinness issued a similar diktat to his own wife, the actress Merula Salaman -- after she had already signed on the dotted line -- with the accompanying rationale that he did not want her to be 'tainted' by the theatrical life (as he later wrote her from Beverly Hills).

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It's a classic double standard. For instance, F. Scott Fitzgerald, who led such an upstanding, conventional life :clapping: , was very upset and discouraging about Zelda's attempts to become a writer, and he also discouraged her efforts to become a ballerina.

Didn't Tamara Karsavina curtail her career to a large degree when she married the British diplomat.

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just to say that i looked on AMAZON, and cannot see the book, there - so presumably it is not released in america yet -

I just ran across an advertisement for this very enticing book in The New York Review of Books. It's been published here by University Press of Florida, and is now available on Amazon.

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