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Bolshoi Ballet in newsphotos from the historic 1956 season in London

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f.y.i.

the accompanying scans of the backs of the two photos date and identify the subjects depicted, each documenting a moment from the first week of the company's now legendary run at Covent Garden in Oct. of '56.

the dancer identified as Sussana Zviagina (sometimes spelt Svyagina, as in the International Encyclopedia of Dance) is seemingly not that well known, certainly hers is not a name someone who knew the Bolshoi Ballet in the West would think of alongside Ulanova, Struchkova and Kondratieva, still here she is, along with Radunsky, somewhat better known, more or less, as a character dancer.

Svyagina has only mention in the IED, where she's listed as having performed the role of Thérèse in a 1960 revival of Vainonen's 1932 FLAMES OF PARIS.

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hard to say,

could have been the first scene, or they'd just finished warm-up/class, or...

but then again, surely the news caption writer asked someone what these dancers were doing or planning to do and SWAN LAKE was mentioned.

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f.y.i.

the accompanying scans of the backs of the two photos date and identify the subjects depicted, each documenting a moment from the first week of the company's now legendary run at Covent Garden in Oct. of '56.

the dancer identified as Sussana Zviagina (sometimes spelt Svyagina, as in the International Encyclopedia of Dance) is seemingly not that well known, certainly hers is not a name someone who knew the Bolshoi Ballet in the West would think of alongside Ulanova, Struchkova and Kondratieva, still here she is, along with Radunsky, somewhat better known, more or less, as a character dancer.

Svyagina has only mention in the IED, where she's listed as having performed the role of Thérèse in a 1960 revival of Vainonen's 1932 FLAMES OF PARIS.

Susanna Zviagina was born July 11, 1918. She entered what was known as a College, (now the Moscow State Academy of Choreography) where she was a pupil of Elizaveta Pavlovna Gerdt graduating as a member of the Bolshoi Theatre where she was an artist from 1937-1961.

Zviagina was a beauty with a strong temperament and great charm who many years danced most of the Spanish dances in the Moscow repertoire and excelled in all the regional dances of the major ballets.

Her roles included the Mazurka, Spanish dance, Hungarian dance ("Swan Lake" by Tchaikovsky, staged by E. Dolinskaya A. Gorsky, Nymph (opera "Ivan Susanin" by Glinka, choreography by R. Zakharov, Hungarian Dance (directed by E. Dolinskaya by A. Gorsky), Spanish dance, the mazurka (choreography by Leonid Yakobson) - "Raymonda" Glazunov, Spanish dance, gypsy dance (opera "La Traviata" by G.. Verdi), Mercedes, bolero ("Don Quixote" by Minkus, choreography by Alexander Gorsky), Mazurka, Andalusian ("Cinderella" Prokofiev staged by R. Zakharov), Spanish dance ("Mirandolina" S. Vasilenko directed by V. Vainonen), Teresa ("Flames of Paris" B. Asafiev, choreography by Vainonen), Gypsy ("The Tale of the Stone Flower" Prokofiev staged Lavrovsky), Flamenco ("Laurencia" A. Krein directed by V. Chabukiani), Russian Dance ("The Little Humpbacked Horse Shchedrin directed by A. Radunsky), Persidka ("Polovtsian Dances"), Killeen ("Forest Song" Zhukovsky).

One has to remember that Russian character dancers of her distinguished stature were often admired as much as principal classical dancers of the Moscow company.

Sviagina was a friend of Sergei Eisenstein who in an unprecedented gift of friendship set for her concert piece "The last conversation (Carmen and Don Jose)," which she performed with success with another brilliant character dancer of the Bolshoi Theatre Konstantin Richter.

In 1961, Sviagina left Moscow to become choreographer-coach of the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre.

Aged 65(?), she graduated from the Faculty GITIS. In the 1970-1975 period Zvagina was the chief choreographer of the Moscow Music Hall, which is under her guidance, managed to revive its status from a low ebb.

In the mid-70s she again returned to the Bolshoi Theater, becoming an energetic and active chairman of the Veterans Council. For several years, in parallel was the editor of the Greater Theatrical Works(?).

Zviagina was a much celebrated character dancer whose contribution to ballet was recognised with

the following awards.

1943 - was awarded the Order of the Red Star.

1951 - the Order "Badge of Honor."

1958 - was awarded the title "Honored Artist of the RSFSR" (Russian Federation).

1959 - the Order "Badge of Honor."

2004 - Medal of Honor.

Zviagina died in Moscow March 13, 2006

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another English publicity photo from the Bolshoi Ballet's historic tour to London in '56 with Zviagina and Struchkova; this print comes via an Australia newspaper, where use of the foto in '59 led to the the paper's misidentifying Raissa Struchkova as Olga Struchaova.

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three more glimpses of the Bolshoi Ballet's 1956 London appearances, complete with 'period' captioning from British news services.

i wonder if the hapless Mayoress in the Stratford photo is the woman in the fur coat on the right.

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another news photo from '56 with Ulanova at Stratford.

Ryndin can be seen at the left edge of the frame.

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Many thanks, leonid, for the biographical information on Zviagina, and to rg for the wonderful photographs!

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Ulanova and hubby...they look tense...

He was after all husband number three or four?.

Her first husband was the balding concert master Isaak Melikov who she married at 17.

Her second husband was the distinguished actor Yuri Zawadzki and People's Artist of USSR (1948) but lived in separate apartments.

A relationship followed with actor and director Ivan Nikolaev Bersenyev believed to have lasted two years and around 1950/1951she consorted with then married costume and stage designer Vadim Ryndin whose opera credits at the Bolshoi Theater include Prokofiev’s War and Peace (1959), Verdi’s Don Carlo (1963), and Molchanov’s The Unknown Soldier (1967) and was too boot a Lenin Prize winner.

Due to his drunkeness, Ryndin as one elegant writer stated, "He was booted out." by Galina Sergeyevna.

PS I have endeavoured to be as accurate as possible in the above without having to write a full biographical sketch.

Thank you rg for posting the photographs.

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