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for St. Valentine's Day, 2009

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This scan, to help celebrate and decorate St. Valentine's Day, shows an imperial ballet identified on the photo as G. O. Bolshakova I (i can find no such dancer in my reference books, but have found a Galya Iosephina Bolshakova); the date says 1913. The ballet in which she appeared as this character is not given.


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What an interesting picture, rg!

I always had the impression that Mme. Alonso had taken liberties when she dressed her Cupido in this sort of shorter soft tutu-dress, and yes, with flowers and everything, which was totally different than the well known image everybody has-(and even new for me before I started watching other productions videos online)-of the white wigged, museline tunic dressed Cupidos of the majority-(if not all)-of the productions.

(The variation of Kitri-as-Dulcinea has been transfered here to Cupido...Don't ask me why... :dunno: )

So, I have a simple question. If rg's pic is indeed Cupido from Don Quijote, when did the museline tunic design started popping out...?


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DON QUIXOTE is a good guess, but Amour or Cupid or Eros was part of any number of ballets around this time.

I assume RUSES D'AMOUR (aka THE PRANKS OF LOVE aka THE TRIALS OF DAMIS) also had such a role.

THE AWAKENING OF FLORA and SYLVIA can likely be ruled out b/c those productions used a different, lighter color design.

DAMIS might be another good guess, b/c Cupid seems not to have been overly prominent in this ballet's cast lists of principal performers, thus a dancer as low-profile (in the history books) as Bolshakova I might well have danced it.

all this is conjecture, however.

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As per Degen/Stupnikov's Petersburg Ballet, 1903-2003, Gali Bolshakova was actually one of the Mariinsky's main ballerinas during the 1910s/20s -- all of the leading soubrette roles Lise, Swanilda, Lise, Colombine, Fairy Doll, Ballerina in Leontiev's Petrushka, etc + Raymonda, Medora, Esmeralda, Tsar-Maiden in Humpbacked Horse, Gamzatti -- although at the time of this photo (1913) she was still a choryphee. She graduated in 1909 (class of Claudia Kulichevskaya) and had a long career at the Mariinsky-Kirov (1909-1944). She was a coach and char. dancer at the Maly from 1944 until her untimely death in 1949. Also, during the 1930s, she was a founding coach of a children's group called Leningrad Children's Dance Company.

She is briefly mentioned in the new English-language tome of Akim Volynsky's critiques as one of the four 'animated frescoes' in the premiere of the Gorsky version of Little Humpbacked Horse in 1913...around the time of this Amour/Cupid photo. [Also, the Russian Ballet Encyclopaedia's entry on Bolshakova contains her photo as a frescoe in that 1913 Humpbacked Horse production.]

None of my Encyclopaedias and other Russian-lang books hint at her repertoire as an Amour/Cupid. Like RG, I am almost certain that this was not Flora's Awakening, in which the costume of Amour/Cupid has much larger, puffier wings. Fokine's Eros (also full of cupids) had not yet premiered. By 1913, Coppini-Gerdt's Sylvia was no longer in the rep. Trials of Damis/Russes d'Amour WAS still in the rep but I do not see cupids in a 1900 photo of the cast at the Hermitage...more of Watteau-Fragonard-style setting and costumes. By process of elimination, this is most likely Amour in the Gorsky Don Q.

[RG - take a look at the color photos of the 1911 production of Orpheus & Euridice , specifically the costumes designed by Golovin, on pa. 184 of the Mariinsky Theater - 1783 to 2003 tome that I know you have....the chemise-like dresses with rows of pink roses, much like Bolshakova is wearing...perhaps she danced in the ballet portions of that opera? I wish I had a scanner at hand.]

One more interesting tidbit: According to both encyclopaedias that I have, Bolshakova's married surname was Ponomarieva. I wonder if she became the wife of her classmate Vladimir Ponomaryev, who graduated in 1910 -- just one year after she did?

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many thanks, NN, i will take down my MARYINSKY cat. and look as you suggest. sounds good to me.

i didn't know if there were any cupids in RUSES - i guess i was thinking of the similarly entitled ivanov ballet CUPID'S PRANK when i made my RUSES suggestion.

so it now looks like DON Q/Amour is the best candidate.

so far...

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