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Notice of death of Olga LepeshinskayaFormidable leading dancer of the Bolshoi


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#1 leonid17

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 03:01 AM

Link to New York Times Obituary

http://www.nytimes.c...0...kaya&st=cse

Washington Post Obituary

http://www.washingto...8122001769.html

I find it extraordinary that so many American news papers are carrying obituaries so quickly and no English papers so far.

Lepeshinskaya was a high profile Bolshoi dancer with strong political links. There are some film clips available which exhibit her fearless technical attack and athletic style.

#2 Sacto1654

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 06:40 AM

Lepeshinskaya was not only Stalin's favorite dancer at the Bolshoi, she was a flat-out superb dancer that was probably the best female ballet dancer the Bolshoi had from the 1930's to 1950's outside of Galina Ulanova (who tranferred from the Kirov troupe to the Bolshoi troupe at Stalin's insistence in 1944). I saw an online video of an RTR Planeta report celebrating Lepeshinskaya's 90th birthday two years ago and wow, she really had superb dancing skills. :thumbsup:

#3 leonid17

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 12:24 PM

Lepeshinskaya was not only Stalin's favorite dancer at the Bolshoi, she was a flat-out superb dancer that was probably the best female ballet dancer the Bolshoi had from the 1930's to 1950's outside of Galina Ulanova (who tranferred from the Kirov troupe to the Bolshoi troupe at Stalin's insistence in 1944). I saw an online video of an RTR Planeta report celebrating Lepeshinskaya's 90th birthday two years ago and wow, she really had superb dancing skills. :thumbsup:


I do not know how you arrive at your evaluation of Lepeshinskaya as a dancer and it is my opinion that you are way off mark in your appreciation of her talents and more importantly her artistic and aesthetic status.
The only dancer of the period in you mention to be compared with Galina Ulanova in status and artistry was Marina Timofeyevna Semyonova who recently celebrated her 100th birthday.

#4 Natalia

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 07:27 AM

I would have also added Maya Plisetskaya to the list of Top Ballerinas of the Bolshoi in the 1950s.

Perhaps Sacto1654 left-out Semionova because, after the 1930s, her dancing star was waning (but her coaching career was rising!). Semionova suffered horrendously during the Stalin Purges and was never quite the dancer that she was before 1935. Semionova's great decade as a dancer was the 1930s...not into the 40s and 50s, like Ulanova. Thank goodness that Semionova turned her attention to becoming Coach Assolutta Par Excellence. THAT is her great legacy, IMO.

Lepeshinskaya was a very petite dynamo, known best for soubrette roles -- Kitri & Masha, most notably. From the bits of film around, I can tell that she was an extraordinary dancer in allegro. May she rest in peace.

#5 Marc Haegeman

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 09:51 AM

Lepeshinskaya was not only Stalin's favorite dancer at the Bolshoi, she was a flat-out superb dancer that was probably the best female ballet dancer the Bolshoi had from the 1930's to 1950's outside of Galina Ulanova (who tranferred from the Kirov troupe to the Bolshoi troupe at Stalin's insistence in 1944). I saw an online video of an RTR Planeta report celebrating Lepeshinskaya's 90th birthday two years ago and wow, she really had superb dancing skills. :thumbsup:


I do not know how you arrive at your evaluation of Lepeshinskaya as a dancer and it is my opinion that you are way off mark in your appreciation of her talents and more importantly her artistic and aesthetic status.
The only dancer of the period in you mention to be compared with Galina Ulanova in status and artistry was Marina Timofeyevna Semyonova who recently celebrated her 100th birthday.


And what about Struchkova?
Why make that comparison anyway? As if somebody would be argueing that Lopatkina is a better dancer than Vishneva, or Osipova better than Zakharova?

#6 leonid17

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 10:16 AM

Lepeshinskaya was not only Stalin's favorite dancer at the Bolshoi, she was a flat-out superb dancer that was probably the best female ballet dancer the Bolshoi had from the 1930's to 1950's outside of Galina Ulanova (who tranferred from the Kirov troupe to the Bolshoi troupe at Stalin's insistence in 1944). I saw an online video of an RTR Planeta report celebrating Lepeshinskaya's 90th birthday two years ago and wow, she really had superb dancing skills. :thumbsup:


I do not know how you arrive at your evaluation of Lepeshinskaya as a dancer and it is my opinion that you are way off mark in your appreciation of her talents and more importantly her artistic and aesthetic status.
The only dancer of the period in you mention to be compared with Galina Ulanova in status and artistry was Marina Timofeyevna Semyonova who recently celebrated her 100th birthday.


And what about Struchkova?
Why make that comparison anyway? As if somebody would be argueing that Lopatkina is a better dancer than Vishneva, or Osipova better than Zakharova?


Your are quite right to mention Raisa Struchkhova who I saw dance and admired very much. I did not mention her when I responded to sacto1654 post as she was not quite of the same generation as the other dancers mentioned. You are quite right that comparisons are of no value and that dancers all exist on their own terms and should not be compared to others. It is only fans that compare and as I know that ballettalk is on a different plain to "fan talk", I should have not let myself enter into the comparison.

#7 Helene

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 01:33 PM

Why make that comparison anyway? As if somebody would be argueing that Lopatkina is a better dancer than Vishneva, or Osipova better than Zakharova?

How well known an artist from another generation was or is currently is often a matter of other factors besides talent. We know of some dancers only by word-of-mouth, because they didn't get the recordings or the first performances, and their dancing/singing was not reviewed, but their performances are revered. They might have been quite famous in their time and extensively cast because another famous or powerful person liked them (or was married to them) or because another one had a reason to keep them close to home. They may never have toured, but were instrumental in bringing their art to a new place (middle America, for example), and may be virtually unknown outside their own place. They might have been quite famous, important, and influential in their home theater (in the pre-Internet days), but never toured, and didn't achieve world-wide fame. In addition, some talents transcend their period and training, while others seem period-bound.

Comparisons aren't always about talent -- who was better - but about how to understand the context of that person in his/her own time. How was Lepeshkina considered in her own time? Was she the most famous ballerina in the Soviet Union apart from Ulanova then? She's not as famous in the West as Plisetskaya, but that doesn't tell us how she was considered when she danced.

#8 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 03:54 PM

Comparisons aren't always about talent -- who was better - but about how to understand the context of that person in his/her own time. How was Lepeshkina considered in her own time? Was she the most famous ballerina in the Soviet Union apart from Ulanova then? She's not as famous in the West as Plisetskaya, but that doesn't tell us how she was considered when she danced.

Oh, definitely! Look at the current thread of Somova. I doubt that by now there's any BT'r left without recognizing that the girl is getting a lot of publicity, and yes, she's famous, even if not for how good she is. At this very moment there are many others way better than her who will never be as well known outside their home companies or home countries...

#9 Amy Reusch

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 10:26 PM

One of the problems is that some of us only know these dancers (beyond their legend) from whatever film remnants exist... not always the best evidence.

#10 carbro

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Posted 22 December 2008 - 11:21 PM

Digression:

Look at the current thread of Somova.

For the benefit of those reading this thread when the cited thread is perhaps no longer immediately visible, it's here.



#11 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 05:17 AM

Was Lepeshinskaya any kin of noted Original Bolshevik biologist Olga Lepeshinskaya? I remember that her father was a railway engineer.

#12 leonid17

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 08:45 AM

Was Lepeshinskaya any kin of noted Original Bolshevik biologist Olga Lepeshinskaya? I remember that her father was a railway engineer.



Comrade Professor Olga Borisovna Lepeshinskaya born in Perm, Russia (1871=1963). She reached the heights of Soviet academia winning awards from Stalin for scientific studies. She was in fact a pseudo-scientist whose soviet communist status kept her safely in a position she should not have otherwise achieved. In this you can find a relationship with Lepeshinskaya the demi-caractere dancer who achieved a leading ballet status while not possessing either turn-out, stretched feet or beautiful epaulement but she found very close favour with Stalin and was married twice to high ranking communists.

I have not so far, been able to trace any family links with Olga Borisovna and Olga Vasilieva the dancer who was born in the Ukraine and apparently descended from a noble Polish family.

#13 rg

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 08:50 AM

was it O. V. Lepshinskaya who was arrested in Italy for shoplifting on one tour outside Soviet Russia?
i seem to recall this being told to me with the suggestion that perhaps O.V.L. was trying to get arrested so she could 'stay' in Italy.
all this very fuzzy and if there has been an ref. to such an incident in the obits i missed it.
i wonder if anyone else has heard of antyhing related to this.
i could be misremembering the whole incident and connecting it wrongly to O.V.L.

#14 Mel Johnson

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 09:09 AM

Was Lepeshinskaya any kin of noted Original Bolshevik biologist Olga Lepeshinskaya? I remember that her father was a railway engineer.



Comrade Professor Olga Borisovna Lepeshinskaya born in Perm, Russia (1871=1963). She reached the heights of Soviet academia winning awards from Stalin for scientific studies. She was in fact a pseudo-scientist whose soviet communist status kept her safely in a position she should not have otherwise achieved. In this you can find a relationship with Lepeshinskaya the demi-caractere dancer who achieved a leading ballet status while not possessing either turn-out, stretched feet or beautiful epaulement but she found very close favour with Stalin and was married twice to high ranking communists.

I have not so far, been able to trace any family links with Olga Borisovna and Olga Vasilieva the dancer who was born in the Ukraine and apparently descended from a noble Polish family.


Right, Leonid, and thanks for that. I found the Professor during my period of Nureyev enthusiasm, long ago. I was looking then for connections between dancers and trains, as RHN had been born on one!

#15 Helene

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Posted 23 December 2008 - 10:47 AM

Many thanks, leonid!


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