Jane Simpson

Eva Evdokimova

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German sources are reporting the sad news that Eva Evdokimova died in New York earlier today, aged only 59. She had been suffering from cancer.

More details will no doubt follow.

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German sources are reporting the sad news that Eva Evdokimova died in New York earlier today, aged only 59. She had been suffering from cancer.

More details will no doubt follow.

This saddens me greatly as I first got to know Evie and her mother quite closely over a two week period in 1968 at the Varna International Ballet Competition. This extraordinary shy and rather fey young girl was to become an outstanding technician and a wonderful Giselle and as La Sylphide. I ran into her and her mother all over Europe and loved the period that she spent with Festival Ballet in London where I saw her perform on many occasions. I am finding it difficult to believe she has passed from this life as I had heard many admiring remarks regarding her teaching in America where she settled after her sojourn in Europe. Evie danced with many famous partners and had a wide and successful repertoire. To me she never changed from that shy teenager I first met over 40 years ago. To sad and too soon to have think only of her in memories.

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Very sad news indeed. Eva inspired many through her great artistry, kindness and gentle nature. Rest in peace Eva. May her husband find strength in knowing that Eva was loved worldwide and inspired many. Very, very sad indeed.

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In addition to seeing her in a very fine Giselle, I saw her give a really rip-roaringly terrific performance in Miss Julie. A striking dancer -- I am sorry to read of her death especially so young.

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German sources are reporting the sad news that Eva Evdokimova died in New York earlier today, aged only 59. She had been suffering from cancer.

More details will no doubt follow.

It is true that Eva Evdokimova passed away in New York in the morning of April 3. She was actually 60 years old. (Birthdate: December 1, 1948.)

As has already been said in these posts, Eva was a strikingly modest, gentle, sincere, thoughtful and generous person, in addition to being among the greatest ballerinas I have had the privilege to see perform.

It has often been said that others danced the role of the Sylphide but that Eva was the Sylphide. Like the sylph, she was playful, joyful, innocent, trusting, ethereal, and forgiving. I will never forget the image of her joyous clapping during a series of jetes--clapping out of childlike happiness and her pleasure at playing little jokes on James.

Her dancing was extraordinary--her interpretations were musical, intelligent, sensitive, and richly thought out. She told me that she adored developing a role, having time to mature in it, explore all of its possibilities and subtleties.

I was fortunate to have been able to study with Eva for seven years. Her demonstrations were in themselves a string of pearls: the beauty of her feet and legs as they worked through tendus and developpes at the barre, the delicacy and refinement of her epaulement, her extraordinary ballon, the pliancy and soft power of her sissones and other small jumps, even in her 50s. And then there was her commitment to a vision of ballet that was feminine, nuanced, refined, gracious, and well mannered. She was generous with her corrections, mild and soft-spoken in her manner, but she gave an uncompromising class. She had a will of steel and a voracious appetite for challenges and hard work, and her classes reflected the core of iron that underlay her elegant, mild, ladylike exterior.

She will be terribly, terribly missed by dancers, dancegoers, dance writers, and all the students who had the great good fortune to study with her and receive her coaching.

There are some clips of Eva in La Sylphide on YouTube. I urge readers who never got to see her dancing to watch these clips. They reveal a great deal about the person as well as the dancer.

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In Memory of Eva Evdokimova

Often in watching ballet, we can find resonance with a spiritual experience.

Great art can do this.

Spirituality exists not to simply bring comfort.

Spirituality provides the purpose for each step we have to take to build to our unified whole.

Great ballet dancers know this and accept the experience of struggle to take part in a higher artistic expression.

Leonid

04.04.2009

London

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May she rest in peace.

If I may ask -- What, exactly, was Ms. Evdokimova's main company during her career? I remember her as a fine guest with Festival Ballet in the early 1980s -- that televised Sylphide with Schaufuss as James -- but I do not seem to recall that she had a permanent home troupe.

As others have described, I also found her to be an exceptionally frail ballerina which worked to her favor in Sylphide and Giselle. I remember her as lovely but somewhat ill-looking even in her youth. Then again, the great Taglioni was often described as being exceptionally frail...the trait of an ideal Sylphide.

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I saw her on tour with the Berlin Opera Ballet, but I don't know what troupe she considered 'home.'

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May she rest in peace.

If I may ask -- What, exactly, was Ms. Evdokimova's main company during her career? I remember her as a fine guest with Festival Ballet in the early 1980s -- that televised Sylphide with Schaufuss as James -- but I do not seem to recall that she had a permanent home troupe.

As others have described, I also found her to be an exceptionally frail ballerina which worked to her favor in Sylphide and Giselle. I remember her as lovely but somewhat ill-looking even in her youth. Then again, the great Taglioni was often described as being exceptionally frail...the trait of an ideal Sylphide.

She often looked exceptional pale and with dark circles under her eyes and was quite an introverted person dedicated to her art and when younger restricted by her mother in any social life. I very much like your bringing in in the descriptive analogy with Maria Taglioni who also travelled a great deal to dance with many companies.

I am taking the advantage of your questions to add a brief biography of Eva.

Eva Evdokimova was the first American to win an international ballet competition( Varna 1970) and the first American winner of the 2005 Ulanova Prize in Moscow for selfless dedication to the art of ballet.

Eva Evdokimova a US Citizen, was born in Switzerland on December 1, 1948 was of mixed American and Bulgarian parentage. Her mother worked for the U.N., and her father, a journalist, was a stateless refugee. Her early childhood was spent in Munich where she first studied ballet. She later come to London and studied at the Royal Ballet School. At the age of 17 she joined the Royal Danish Ballet (where she was a pupil of Vera Volkova to whom she gave great credit for her abilities) dancing in the corps de ballet then in 1969 she joined Berlin Ballet as a soloist and became a principal of that company with the title of Prima Ballerina during the period from 1973 - 1985. Despite her height, Rudolf Nureyev chose her to be his partner on many occasions for more than a decade. Over the years Eva acquired an enormous repertoire covering the Romantic and 19th century Russian classics and appeared in many 20th century classics. She appeared as a guest star with the Munich Ballet, both ABT and the National Ballet of Canada and many other companies. I remember an enthusiastic review by Jack Anderson in 1983, when she appeared in New York with Nureyev and the Boston Ballet as Kitri in Don Quixote. Eva retired from dancing in 1990 variously teaching and staging ballets thereafter. and was a judge at international ballet competitons.

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EE was also recorded on a once commercially available videocassette called THE ROMANTIC ERA. (the telecast of her in Schaufuss's LA SYLPHIDE was not, to the best of knowldege, released commercially.)

credits as follows:

The romantic era / directed by Merrill Brockway ; produced by Joseph Wishy ; originally conceived, produced and directed for the stage by Joseph Wishy. U.S. : ABC Video Enterprises, c1980. (90 min.) : sd., col.

Taped during the eighth annual International Cervantino Festival (Cervantes International Festival) at the Teatro Juarez, Guanajuato, Mexico, in spring 1980.

Musical direction, George Crum ; set design, Ed Wittstein ; lighting, Ralph Holmes ; written by Faubion Bowers.

Narrator: Erik Bruhn.

Danced by Eva Evdokimova with Peter Schaufuss, Ghislaine Thesmar with Michel Denard, Carla Fracci with James Urbain, and Alicia Alonso with Jorge Esquivel.

Music played by the Orchestra Sinfonic de Xalapa, conducted by George Crum.

Dance contents: Défilé / music, Chopin ; introducing the eight dancers: Eva Evdokimova with Peter Schaufuss, Ghislaine Thesmar with Michel Denard, Carla Fracci with James Urbain, and Alicia Alonso with Jorge Esquivel -- Pas de deux from Esmeralda / reconstruction and choreography, John Gilpin ; music, Cesare Pugni ; danced by Evdokimova and Schaufuss -- Pas de deux from Natalie (La laitière suisse) / reconstruction and choreography, Pierre Lacotte ; music, Adalbert Gyrowetz and Michele Enrico Carafa ; danced by Thesmar and Denard -- Pas de deux from La péri / reconstruction and choreography, Loris Gai ; music, Friedrich Burgmüller ; danced by Fracci and Urbain -- Pas de deux from the 3rd act of Giacomo Meyerbeer's opera Robert le diable / reconstruction and choreography, Alberto Méndez ; danced by Alonso and Esquivel ; introduced by Joseph Wishy. Adagio from Act II of Giselle / choreography, Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, arranged by Anton Dolin ; music, Adolphe Adam ; danced in sequence by Evdokimova and Schaufuss, Thesmar and Denard, Fracci and Urbain, and Alonso and Esquivel -- Pas de quatre / reconstruction and choreography, Anton Dolin ; music, Cesare Pugni ; danced by Alonso as Taglioni, Evdokimova as Grahn, Fracci as Cerrito, and Thesmar as Grisi ; introduced by Anton Dolin.

:Alicia Alonso, Carla Fracci, Ghislaine Thesmar, and Eva Evdokimova are shown in various pas de deux from the Romantic era of 19th-century ballet, and in Anton Dolin's Pas de quatre. Interspersed is a discussion by the four ballerinas on the romantic style, and comments by Anton Dolin about his version of the Pas de quatre.

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Very sad news. The clips of Evdokimova in La Sylphide were beautiful.

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This is a lovely tribute, Barbarina. Sad news indeed.

Evdokimova's Act II Giselle is one of my favorite ballet memories. With her long neck and sloping shoulders she had the ideal Romantic line, from head to pointe.

It would have made a lovely lithograph.

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Thank you, Barbarina, for your beautiful description of Eva Evdokimova.

I, too, mourn her passing.

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Thank you for the bio, Leonid. To answer my own earlier question, I consulted the Oxford Dictionary of Ballet, which states that Ms Evdokimova was a ballerina for 16 years -- prima since 1975 -- with the Berlin Opera Ballet - one of three companies that later merged to form the Berlin Ballet that is now headed by Malakhov. However, most of the world knew her as a free-lancer guesting with more famous companies or with Nureyev's independent touring groups. So here is another accolade: she was a true pioneer in forging a first-class career without affiliating herself permanently with one of the "Big 6" ballet companies (Kirov, Bolshoi, RB, POB, NYCB and ABT).

RG, beside The Romantic Ballet that you cite, Evdokimova can be seen rehearsing an extended excerpt from Act II of Giselle in the documentary Bujones Winning at Varna. Those seem to be the only two commercially-available (now or recently)films in the USA. The Festival Ballet Sylphide made the rounds on US television in the early 1980s (Nickelodeon, Bravo, etc.) but was not made available commercially. Neither were some Bournonville excerpts that were televised in Denmark in the late 1960s, when she was a corps member there and can be spotted in small clusters. I would venture a guess that at least one of the several Nureyev documentaries in existence shows Evdokimova in performance and/or speaking; I just can't pinpoint it now. Finally, I cannot imagine that West German television did not feature her in many telecasts during the 1970s/80s.

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May she rest in peace.

If I may ask -- What, exactly, was Ms. Evdokimova's main company during her career? I remember her as a fine guest with Festival Ballet in the early 1980s -- that televised Sylphide with Schaufuss as James -- but I do not seem to recall that she had a permanent home troupe.

As others have described, I also found her to be an exceptionally frail ballerina which worked to her favor in Sylphide and Giselle. I remember her as lovely but somewhat ill-looking even in her youth. Then again, the great Taglioni was often described as being exceptionally frail...the trait of an ideal Sylphide.

Evi considered Berlin her "home" for many years and was very happy there at those times.

Also London was sort of home since she owned a nice apartment there what she later had to sell.

She split the Deutsche Oper Berlin ballet after listening to some peoples' "questionable advice" and lived the last 15 years or so in New York - Manhattan, doing some teaching and taking care of her husband and his family.

She was the most wonderful person I have met in my entire life.

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I am deeply saddened by her death. I admired and enjoyed her tremendously as an artist. Later I was fortunate to know her as a coach, teacher, and the lovliest of human beings. RIP dear Eva.

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There are some clips of Eva in La Sylphide on YouTube. I urge readers who never got to see her dancing to watch these clips. They reveal a great deal about the person as well as the dancer.

And there is Giselle pdd too

(not sure if I can add the link, but I think that the clips are not yet available through youtube search engine...).

Unfortunately I've never seen her dancing live, but she was the first Sylph I've ever seen and she is till now my favourite. :wub:

May she rest in peace.

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Sounds marvellous -- is it?

EE was also recorded on a once commercially available videocassette called THE ROMANTIC ERA. (the telecast of her in Schaufuss's LA SYLPHIDE was not, to the best of knowldege, released commercially.)

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I had never seen Evdokimova until today, on these two youtube clips -- which are among the finest interpratations of those roles I have ever seen. She is out of this world. In the Giselle, she seems like Allegra Kent in Sonnambula -- finding him "by echolocation." Of course I'm moved by the news of her death, but still, right now I feel that I have never seen truer or deeper interpretation of these dances. The phrasing is her own, and it is so appropriate. Her dancing is multicentered, like African dancing -- the breast-bone has its own rhythms which are different from those of the pelvis, and each seems not to know what the other is doing, as Giselle is only incpmletely aware of where Albrecht actually IS; though all is harmonious and her balance is NEVER in doubt, nevertheless there is something quietly ecstatic in her dancing all the time and she often seems to have over-run the end of her phrase....though like a contact-improv dancer, she allows her reflexes to right her without any Starrung. She seems to be competely free from earthly anxieties. She walks out of arabesque as though the poses were moments where she leaned against a breeze.

As the sylphide, she is unbelievably at ease from the waist up, her collarbone is so soft, her neck so long, the hands so easy, the shoulders so free -- and then you see those Sissonnes, so light, so vertical, so HIGH; the entrechat-quatres, so quick, so turned-out, the insteps so powerfully extended, the whole step barely leaving the ground at all -- perhaps she bends the knees considerably under that skirt and has not risen the length of an entire foot. They're miraculous.

Especially delicious is the diagonal, combination sissonne failli that then steps into the pique with the exquisitely modulated slow develope to the front -- it's like she has all the time in the world.

SO beautiful.

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There are some clips of Eva in La Sylphide on YouTube. I urge readers who never got to see her dancing to watch these clips. They reveal a great deal about the person as well as the dancer.

And there is Giselle pdd too

(not sure if I can add the link, but I think that the clips are not yet available through youtube search engine...).

Unfortunately I've never seen her dancing live, but she was the first Sylph I've ever seen and she is till now my favourite. :wub:

May she rest in peace.

Many thanks for posting the Giselle pas de deux clips on YouTube, Annamicro. That's an enormous gift to her fans and to all those who will now have the chance to discover her artistry.

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I too was seeing these You Tube clips for the first time and thought that they were just stunning, though I can't begin to describe them as Paul Parish does.

I don't much care to watch ballet on video -- it usually sort of bores me -- and I know it gives misleading impressions of some dancers. (Much as I am glad the video of Kirkland in Nutcracker exists, I wish people wouldn't form their opinion of her from it and of course they do.) But these clips fully captured not just my attention but my imagination.

From the one live Giselle I saw Evdokimova dance I remember the effect of her long arms, romantic lines, and expressive face in Act II though not, unfortunately, much else: the clip made me wish I could actually remember her dancing not just her "image."

As for the Sylphide clips--wow!

That said, my memory is that American critics were not entirely won over when she came here with the Berlin Opera Ballet and Croce at one time referred to her as an example of the kind of weaker ballerina Nureyev preferred to pair himself with later in his career. As I remember, too, I liked her in Giselle but was really dazzled by her Miss Julie -- a very forceful dramatic presentation of a difficult character. And I also remember a rather nasty back-handed compliment about that Miss Julie performance in Ballet Review (not by Croce)--along the lines of 'at last a role (neurotic, repressed etc.) that suits her.'

Watching these clips, I'm inclined to think she did not get her proper due in the U.S. Perhaps if she had danced more here she would have...From posts made above, it does sound as if she was greatly appreciated as a teacher in New York once her performing career was over.

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Was Croce watching the same dancer I just saw in those clips? 'Weak' is the very last word I would choose to describe her; she is perhaps the strongest dancer I have ever laid eyes on, so strong that she does not need to announce it. When she jumps--well, she doesn't jump, she simply floats up into the air without any apparent preparation at all, hovers there for a moment, then graciously descends, all in perfect time with the music. Those who saw her live describe her dancing so beautifully (the clips, while breathtaking, clearly just hint at what her presence conveyed) that I am quite envious. She appears, from what little I can see, to be the ideal Giselle and Sylphide, and probably much more.

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Croce was referring to Evdokimova's performances in the Petipa classics that call for robust presentation of technique, e.g., Aurora in SB or Kitri in DQ or in 'after Petipa' 20th-C works such as Grand Pas Classique or the Balanchines. They were not her forte, although she would have been wonderful in La Valse, IMO. It's no coincidence that our video collections from 25-30 years ago contain no clips of EE wearing a classical tutu. EE was very much a 'weeping spirit/romantic tutu' specialist, e.g., Giselle, Sylphide and Pas de Quatre...regardless of whatever may have been her repertoire back home in Berlin. Even her Esmeralda pdd from the 'Romantic Era' gala (and commercial video) in Guanajuato, Mexico, was the romantic version in long tutu, not the Petipa 1890s edition.

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There was a small and very beautiful obituary in the Sunday NY Times written by I am assuming Eva's husband Michael. If any of you still have the paper it is in the first section of the paper on page 20. It is hard to believe that the NY Times has not written a wonderful article about her. This is an unhappy state of affairs. :wub:

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