Wed, 27 Oct 2021

25 unique PHOTOS of Soviet ballet

07 Oct 2021, 19:54 GMT+10

Performances, rehearsals, tours - we plunge into the incredible world of ballet, the calling card of the USSR.

In Soviet times, the elite art of ballet went mainstream. It was often shown on TV, even when ballet was the last thing on people's minds. The most famous case is the screening of Swan Lake during the August 1991 coup, when communist hardliners attempted to seize power.

And yet, the Soviet public simply adored ballet, shedding countless tears over that same Swan Lake. Audiences were dazzled by the spectacular scenery, the flamboyant costumes and, of course, the inimitable artistry. Ballet was also one of the country's main exports, a kind of calling card of the 'Land of the Soviets'. It was mostly ballet companies that toured on the other side of the Iron Curtain - partly for language reasons, but mainly for their sheer brilliance. At the same time, opera and ballet theaters sprang up all across the USSR.

It was many a young girl's dream to enter ballet school and become a famous prima donna; the requirements and conditions, however, were punishing in the extreme. It was due to this ruthless, Darwinian selection process that Soviet ballerinas became so proficient and legendary. Meanwhile, the choreography created by Soviet ballet masters is still used in the main theaters of Russia.

1. The 'Art of Movement' avant-garde group attempted to reform ballet


2. Ballerina Galina Ulanova dressed as a Komsomol member in Dmitry Shostakovich's ballet The Golden Age, 1930

Museum of Music

3. Experimental composition by artists of the Taras Shevchenko Kiev Opera and Ballet Theater, 1931

Robert Diament/MAMM/MDF/

4. Even during the war, ballet continued. The evacuated Bolshoi Theater performs, 1941

Ivan Shagin/MAMM/MDF/

5. Galina Ulanova in Sergei Prokofiev's ballet Romeo and Juliet, staged by the Bolshoi Theater, 1946

Museum of Music

6. Rehearsal of the first children's ballet Aistenok [The Stork], 1948

Semyon Mishin-Morgenstern/MAMM/MDF/

7. Elena Vanke in Leo Delibes' ballet Coppelia at the Bolshoi Theater, 1949

Semyon Mishin-Morgenstern/MAMM/MDF/

8. Ballerinas posing backstage in costumes from Coppelia, 1949

Semyon Mishin-Morgenstern/MAMM/MDF/

9. Maya Plisetskaya as Odile, 1949

Semyon Mishin-Morgenstern/MAMM/MDF/

10. Scene from Reingold Glière's ballet The Bronze Horseman at the Bolshoi Theater, 1949

Semyon Mishin-Morgenstern/MAMM/MDF/

11. The China-themed ballet The Red Poppy. (The words on the ship read "Russian trade unions for Chinese workers"), 1940s


12. A scene from Swan Lake. Bolshoi Theater, 1950s

Evgeny Umnov/MAMM/MDF/

13. Bolshoi Theater Ballet School, 1950s

Vladislav Mikosha/MAMM/MDF/

14. Swan Lake performed by the Novosibirsk State Opera and Ballet Theater, 1955

Boris Borisov/MAMM/MDF/

15. Friendship of peoples in ballet: Gayane by Aram Khachaturian on the stage of the Bolshoi Theater, 1950s


16. Spartacus by Aram Khachaturian, staged by Igor Moiseev, 1958

Boris Borisov/MAMM/MDF/

17. Pioneers perform 'The Dance of the Cygnets' at a ceremony to see off workers to the virgin lands, 1958

Gennady Gushchin/MAMM/MDF/

18. The famous ballerina Maya Plisetskaya in Swan Lake, 1960s

Evgeny Umnov/MAMM/MDF/

19. Maya Plisetskaya as Kitri in the Bolshoi Theater's ballet Don Quixote, 1964

Evgeny Umnov/MAMM/MDF/

20. In rehearsal class, 1971

Viktor Yershov/MAMM/MDF/

21. Complex holds need to be rehearsed in a tutu, 1971

Viktor Yershov/MAMM/MDF/

22. Maris Liepa and Marina Kondratyeva in a scene from Spartacus, 1976

Yuri Sadovnikov/MAMM/MDF/

23. A scene from Swan Lake, 1980s

Leonid Zhdanov/MAMM/MDF/

24. Behind the scenes at the Bolshoi, 1983

Vladimir Vyatkin/MAMM/MDF/

25. In the dressing room of the Voronezh Opera and Ballet Theater: a ballerina repairs her costume and reads the newspaper Izvestia, 1984

Alexander Steshanov/MAMM/MDF/

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