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Natalia Bessmertnova

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rg   

2 soviet era postcards of Natalya Igorevna Bessmertnova, as Giselle, circa 1970.

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FauxPas   

I was actually rather surprised to see that this made Yahoo's newsboard:

http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20080219/en_af...letbessmertnova

Lovely picture of Bessmertnova with Plisetskaya.

I love Bessmertnova and saw her live close to the end of her career in Chicago in the late eighties on a "Stars of the Bolshoi" tour. I think she did the "Dying Swan" and "Giselle" Act II with Yuri Vasyuchenko. Anyway, I find her a perfect blend of feminine expressive lyricism with sterling classical strength underlying it. She is a perfect blend of technique and lyricism. Sometimes a little distant as a dramatic interpreter but a wonderful, wonderful dancer.

Interesting note: there are some expatriate Russians who review ballet videos on Amazon.com who consistently belittle and trash her. They don't see what all the fuss was about and try to pass off her status as derived from her marriage to the detested Grigorovich who was the ballet Czar under the Communist regime. Gennady Smakov in "The Great Russian Dancers" delivers a whole chapter to her and despite the marriage and politics is very clearly favorably decided about her importance as a dancer and talent. He compares her interestingly with her near contemporary Makarova and finds Bessmertnova the better technician.

Bessmertnova I think elevated everything she touched from her deeply expressive and moving Phrygia in "Spartacus" to that rather flat, cardboard role of Anastasia in "Ivan the Terrible".

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dirac   

I add my thanks for the photographs. She was indeed a wonderful Juliet in the film. I hope those who had the good fortune to see her in performance live will talk about it here.

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Rosa   

What sad news! :crying: For over ten years I have loved watching her Swan Lake with Alexander Bogatyrev; and I've really enjoyed her in Raymonda. What a loss for the ballet world.

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rg   

the CNN photo doesn't have an 'enlarge' option, but i think it shows the late N.Bessmertnova w/ U. Lopatkina.

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anin   
Very sad news. A Giselle for the ages. May she rest in peace.

I couldn't agree more. I saw her Giselle when she was a guest at the Kirov with Baryshnikov in 1974( his very last performance with the Kirov as it turned out). Unforgettable. After almost 34 years since, I can't get over the impact of that performance.No words can really describe it. It was the second time I cried during ballet ( first being Plisetskaya in Carmen).Her marriage to Grigorovich has nothing to do with her greatness.Mabey he miscast her sometimes,but as a great dancer and artist she stood on her own and actually became a great Giselle before her marriage.

She was unique and always will be in the hearts and memories of all those who love and appreciate ballet and Bessmertnova's extrordinary contibution to the art.

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oberon   

Bessmertnova was my first Swan Queen when the Bolshoi visited the Met in 1975. It was the only time I ever saw her dance 'live' and even though it was at the beginning of my ballet-going 'career' she left a memorable impression which made SWAN LAKE my favorite among the full-length classics. I remember at the time thinking her Odette was rather cold but then I had no frame of reference. Her Odile was brilliant and she reaped several ovations during the Black Swan pas de deux.

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Drew   

I only just read of Bessmertnova's death today--here on this site. The news makes me sad, though I only saw her twice. I especially remember and will always treasure her liquid bourrees in Ivan the Terrible. (In my mememory she melts backwards on point with her arms wafting before her in heightened and softened third positions -- alternating arms if that makes sense and rolling them forward through the air as her points carried her backward with a speed that should be blurry but somehow seems completely articulate and altogether at one with the music.) I am very sorry never to have seen her dance Giselle.

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dirac   

There have been surprisingly few obituaries. I suppose because she was not a famous Western dancer and never defected. It's a shame.

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