When I think of the tributes that Ulanova received ,(Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Anna Pavlova Paris Academy of Dance (1958), Commander Order of Merit in the field of art and literature (France),People's Artist of the USSR (1951). Award "Golden Mask" in the nomination "For the honor and dignity" (1995). I join with others in wishing I had seen her dance.
The parents of Galina Ulanova were the ballet dancer and director SN Ulanov and Marie Feodorovna Romanova, classical dancer and an outstanding teacher.
Galina Ulanova was a reluctant pupil realising how difficult the life of a ballet dancer would be.
This was especially so since she was growing up in the difficult post trevolutionary years.
Galina was necessarily taken in the evening through the St.Petersburg snow carried by her mother to the cinemas where her parents worked part time for a ration of bread then dancing before the films were shown.
Naturally, Galina even as a child began to realize how difficult the life of a ballet dancer, especially growing up in the dark post revolutionary years.In her memoirs, Ulanova recalled the reaction of the people sitting in the unheated room "....smiling, happy that they see a beautiful and easy dance, full of joy, light and poetry. "
I think of a modest, centred, smartly dressed woman generous of her time Ulanova's performance can never live on one plain only the swiftness of a fleeting expression, the bending of her body the outstretched yearning of her arms and her arabesque seemingly reaching to escape in moments of turmoil are unforgettable.
Ulanova onstage would somehow leaves normal dramatic expression behind drawing out of the audience a oneness with her experiences in a number of roles.All though Ulanova (born 1910) would grow up during the turmoil of the Russian Revolution which would later influence some highly politically characterised ballets.
At times she dances in a lighter key than that you find in Anna Pavlova's most expressive performances. But when Ulanova enters into a world where our most sensitive reactions are frailly laid, we cannot help but be carried away by her emotional yet subtle actions that resonate with our hopes and fears.
However when Ulanova graduated from the school in 1918 the political climate in Petrograd was bordering on the dangerous following the 1914-18 world war and fear reigned in the former Imperial capital.It is questionable that she was entirely a Vaganova pupil as no where on film, do you see a steely attack in her line or the intensive expression of some of Vaganova's other pupils.
Galina Ulanova was the daughter of two Mariinsky dancers of some note. Her mother Marie Romanova taught her at the Imperial Theatre School and later she was taught by Agrippina Vaganova. Her father was a dancer of some note and a regisseur in the early Soviet era.
Dickie Buckle eulogised over Ulanova as "Giselle" in "Buckle at the Ballet," having also earlier said," That no one can dance Giselle like Markova but when the Bolshoi visited London for the first time he added that,"Now I have seen Galina Ulanova I can say that she too, in quite a different way, is amazing and wonderful."
When on a visit to London with Bolshoi Ballet, I invited Galina Ulanova to the Pavlova Museum in Ivy House the former home of Anna Pavlova.
She was enraptured when watching films of Pavlova, making comments on her gestures and technique.
When examining items that had belonged to Pavlova, Ulanova seem to silently muse on the objects becoming withdrawn to another world for just a moment oblivious of those around her..
When I think of Ulanova I also think of her totally engrossed watching films of Pavlova and responding with joyous expression at various moments and pointing out the more than felicitous moments.
Geoffrey Whitlock and I took Ulanova on a tour of the Ivy House garden where we had prepared a tree planting of a Silver Birch for her to complete filling the earth around the young stem. Not saitisfied with the job done, Ulanova bent down to pat the earth tight and flat with her hands and then stood there silently for some moments.
Ulanova had of course a relationship with Pavlova through her parents, who had come to London
as members of her ballet company more than a century ago and was deeply touched when I gave her a photocopy of a programme with her parents name listed.
As she left the museum I asked her to sign the Museum's visitors book..
Ulanova simply wrote "Thanks to her."
The Eulogies of Ulanova abound.
Dame Alicia Markova (Little Alicia the Child Pavlova) was born in the same year as Ulanova and would begin to dance on medical advice to strengthen her weak limbs. She came from a background some what removed from Ulanova's.
At various times, her teachers would include Seraphima Astafieva, Nikolai Legat, Enrico Cecchetti and Vincenzo Celli.
Markova made her stage début at age ten, performing the role of Salome in the pantomime “Dick Whittington and his Cat” for which she was billed as Little Alicia, the child Pavlova.
At the age of 13, Markova was observed in the studio of Astafieva by Diaghilev, who was visiting London in search of new talent for his ballet company. He invited her to join the Ballets Russes in Monte Carlo, which she did in 1925, one month after her 14th birthday acquiring her stage name. Due to her age, she performed a number of roles which were specially choreographed for her.
Markova appeared in "Le Rossignol" and "La Chatte." for Diaghilev.
In 1931 Markova was invited by Ninette de Valois to join her new ballet company, the Vic-Wells Ballet with Anton Dolin as her partner. Markova returned to appear in England following Diaghilev's death and began working with Marie Rambert and Frederick Ashton as the leading ballerina of ,"The Ballet Club" founded by Marie Rambert.
Cyril Beaumont in his,”THE BALLET CALLED GISELLE ” published in 1944 was to write, “Markova's interpretation is remarkable for its grace and poetry and its technical beauty, so that the most difficult movements seemed effortless. Her portrait of the peasant girl, like that of Spessivtzeva's delicately balanced hypersensitive quality so rarely encountered, while in the second act Markova is so light, so intangible, so seemingly indifferent to the laws of gravity, that she resembles a wreath of mist.
Ashton was invited to become resident choreographer and the rest as they say is history except, that Markova would leave the company with Anton Dolin and in 1950 they formed a highly successful company simply called, "The Festival Ballet" to coincide with the shortly to be staged "Festival of Britain".
Markova would not retire until 1963 with an extensive record of notable performances from her earlier career as both Giselle and Odette-Odile.
One of the last works I saw her re-create was, “Les Sylphides” and for atmosphere and dancing, I have hardly ever seen a better production anywhere.
Markova was a much admired ballerina who became a legend in her lifetime encompassing a wide range of roles.
I was to meet Dame Alicia on a number of occasions notably when she brought Alexandra Danilova to visit Ivy House to show her old friend Pavlova's Furniture, which she had inherited and loaned to the "Pavlova Museum" collection founded by Roberta and John Lazzarini.
Dame Alicia had a somewhat very clear stylised manner in her speech which took one back to an earlier era of time.
Always very elegant and frequently generous of her time I was fortunate to meet Dame Alicia on several occasions.