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Tarasova, Zhelonkina & Baranov Win Awards

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Too few opportunities to see the lovely Zhelonkina. Rarely on foreign tours. Perhaps this award might alter the situation ?

The following was written by Marc Haegeman a couple of years ago. I have not seen Mlle. Zhelonkina in several years, but his portrait corresponds very precisely to that recollection:

"Irina Zhelonkina has been a dancer with the Kirov Ballet since 1989.

"She was born in Tcheboksary and trained at the Vaganova Ballet Academy (pupil of Natalia Dudinskaya) in Leningrad.

In 1995 she was made a first soloist.

With dancing that is remarkably restrained in manner and unemphatic in technique, with featherlight, effortless leaps, and flowing movements, Irina Zhelonkina has become a supreme classicist. Her physique combines delicate, feminine charm with an exquisitely refined plastique. Of middle-height, beautifully proportioned, with chiseled legs and arms, in a way a dancer like Irina Zhelonkina looks out of place in the Kirov company of the nineties, dominated by slim, long-limbed ballerinas.

"Irina Zhelonkina has never been in the forefront in the Kirov company. Western audiences mainly know her as the tireless soloist, performing in numerous pas deux and solos of the Petipa-classics. Zhelonkina is the Kirov's ideal interpreter of those charming, witty, and virtuoso pieces like Harlequinade and Carnival in Venice, or Street Dancer in Don Quixote (and few will forget with what lightness and ease she skimmed through the solo with the bells in The Fountain of Bakhchisarai), but proves also very much at home in the nocturnal, romantic atmosphere of Chopiniana. All too occasional appearances in leading roles provided a tantalising glimpse of her artistic potential: she is a true Petersburg Aurora, an aristocratic and proud Gamzatti, a vulnerable Shirin in Legend Of Love, a mischievous Ballerina in Petruskha, and a touching Polish princess in The Fountain of Bakhchisarai."

Irina Zhelonkina prepares her roles with Olga Moiseyeva. "

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Thanks, Jeannie and Katharine. Irina Zhelonkina used to be quite a heavy-duty ballerina in the nineties: endless fairies, odalisques, sylphs, shades, peasant pas de deux, and "friend of" all sorts of characters, but only rarely a principal role on tour. She somehow disappeared from touring recently. I doubt if this merited title will change anything about that now.

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Yes, NO7, Mr. Putin hands out these awards every so often but it is still a rather big honor....a carry-over from the Soviet days, when Orders of Lenin & such were pinned on the chests of People's Heroes!

There are two levels of award -

Honored (or 'Merited') Artist of the Russian Federation

and, an even higher achievement -

People's Artist, which goes to the Assylmuratovas of this world.

IMO, it is kind-of nice to live in a country where artists and scientists are held in the highest esteem by the majority of the population...even if salaries do not mirror the esteem. :)

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