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Tamara Karsavina Dancing Flame

Tamara Karsavina Dancing Flame

Divinely beautiful ballerina, Tamara Karsavina Dancing Flame (10 March 1885 – 26 May 1978)

Tamara Karsavina Dancing Flame
Russian ballet dancer, whose name stands next to the names of such great ballerinas as Mathilde Kshessinskaya and Anna Pavlova. Born in the spring, March 9, 1885, Tamara Karsavina grew up in an intellectual family. In particular, her father, Platon Karsavin was a dancer at the Mariinsky Theater, and also taught at the Drama School. And even six-year old Tamara knew – her main passion was theater. Supported by her mother, Tamara began preparing to enter the Theater School.
Nature, like a fairy godmother, generously bestowed its merits and virtues, talent, wit, intelligence, beauty, and especially feminine charm. In addition, a gentle nature, modesty and simplicity. In turn, people loved, respected and admired her. Karsavina was always away from any kind of intrigue – because in her youth had decided to devote all of herself to Its Majesty the Arts. Meanwhile, in the memory of art lovers she remained the ‘Firebird of Russian Ballet “…

Tamara Karsavina Dancing Flame

Old photo. Tamara Karsavina Dancing Flame

After graduating from college in 1902, Tamara entered the corps de ballet of the Mariinsky Theater. However, Anna Pavlova for some reason, immediately disliked the young rising star. Nevertheless, Tamara worked a lot, and improved techniques. In particular, for traveling to Italy she took lessons from famous teachers. Gradually, Karsavina got major parties – she danced in the ballet “Giselle”, “Swan Lake”, “Raymonda”, and “Don Quixote”. And of course, she became the favorite of the public.

Noteworthy, the first major success brought Karsavina to cooperation with Mikhail Fokin. As one of the leading dancers of the Mariinsky Theater, Fokine began to try himself as a choreographer. He tried to enrich the dance with new elements and movements. Besides, became an active supporter of Karsavina – one of the few actresses able to truly comprehend, and absorb the ideas of Fokine.

But the real glory to Karsavina brought the Russian ballet seasons in Paris, which began in 1909. The success of this season has surpassed all expectations. And a wonderfully organic Karsavina duet with Vaslav Nijinsky decorated all the programs of the season.

Meanwhile, Karsavina’s characters were different: the enchantress Armida, and playful, charming Columbine, a romantic dreamer. And the list of ballet performances and roles was long – “Spectre de la Rose”, an antique nymph Echo, devoid of its own people (“Narcissus”), a doll, a ballerina from the Russian booth (“Petrouchka”) and the virgin-Bird (“The Firebird”).

The day after the premiere of “Firebird” in French newspapers appeared lots of reviews and articles titled: “LA KARSAVINA”, “La Nijinsky”, which meant a special admiration and respect. In fact, it was Paris reviews that wrote about the performance style of the ballerina. “Karsavina like dancing flames, in the light and shadows that inhabit languid bliss … her dancing – is the most gentle tone and pastel drawing in air. ”

Also, the descriptions of Karsavina’s performances highlighted her talent for mime, elusive grace, and the nature of the high jump, which Fokin used intentionally. Thus, the Firebird cut scene as the lightning and, according to Alexander Benois, to “fire phoenix”. And when the bird turned around wonder-maid, in her movements appeared delicious languor, her impulse as if melted in the bends of the body, in the hands of windings.

Meanwhile, Tamara Karsavina was a devoted companion of the founder of “Russian Seasons” Diaghilev. And that time Kshessinskaya disliked Diaghilev, put a spoke in the wheel, using her connections at court, and later firmly refused to share her success with other stars.

However, Karsavina was never capricious, and did not show demands. She was able to subordinate her own interests to the common cause. When she came into the company as the first soloist of the Mariinsky Theatre, and with a repertoire of several leading political parties, but, nevertheless, agreed on the position of the second ballerina. Only when Pavlova left the troupe, Karsavina performed all of the major roles.

In 1913 Karsavina returned to Russia at the Mariinsky. Warmly greeted, she received all the major roles in the ballets of the classical repertoire – “Giselle”, “Swan Lake”, “Raymonda”, “Nutcracker”, “Sleeping Beauty,” “Don Quixote” and others. At this time, Karsavina was already quite mature actress. She was perfectly able to do any expressive dance, organic and natural transition from dance to pantomime. Critics lavished vying rave reviews toward her.

One of the books devoted to the Russian dancers described Karsavina: “She, along with Ida Rubinstein claims to be first in the list of the most beautiful Russian dancers. Contemporaries praised women vying magnetism and commemorated heart broken by both charmer. But if the infernal Ida looked like a “wounded lioness,” then sharpened razor, Tamara Karsavina took the other: lyrical and poetic eroticism. Charm of Karsavina was stronger because it was reputed to be impregnable special, not prone to the usual vulgar cupid dancer. ”

Karsavina was adored by the famous Don Juan of St. Petersburg, Carl Mannerheim – the future great statesman of Finland, and while the officer in the tsarist army. Doctor Sergei Botkin was in love with Tamara, forgetting about his wife (the daughter of Tretyakov, the founder of the famous picture gallery, later museum). Choreograph Fokine made her an proposal three times, and each time she denied them. Karsavina married a poor nobleman Vasily Mukhin, captivated by his kindness, knowledge of music and a passion for ballet. But the biggest love was still waiting for her…

One day at a reception at the British Embassy, she became acquainted with Henry Bruce, head of the Office of the Embassy. Bruce was desperately in love with her, stole Tamara from the family, she gave birth to a son Nikita, and in 1915 became a wife of the British diplomat. They lived together for more than thirty years.

In 1918 Karsavina left home. She was 33 years old. Karsavina with her family came first to France, and in 1929 moved to London. For two years she danced in the theater “Ballet Rambert,” and then decided to leave the scene.

She began to work on resumption of Fokine’s ballets, the party preparing the Firebird with a great British ballerina Margot Fonteyn. Karsavina was trouble-free, she always came to the aid of all who needed it. Many choreographers use her advice and tips with the resumption of the classical ballets. Ballerina even appeared in small roles in several silent films made in Germany and the UK – including the film “The path to strength and beauty” of Leni Riefenstahl.

Karsavina wrote a book of memoirs “Theater Street”, a few books on ballet, including the benefits of classical dance. She has developed a new method of recording dances. Karsavina was elected vice-president of the British Royal Academy of Dance and held this honorable position for a quarter of century. Being a pupil of the Russian school, she was actually a full representative of it abroad, while continuing her own “Russian Seasons”.

Ballerina chose London – as if anticipating that most of her life will be associated with this city. England immediately fell in love with Karsavina. According to the dancer’s memoirs, at the theater in London, “there was a roar of the gallery, like a distant thunder of cannon, and the theater applauded for twenty minutes: Karsavina!”

In 1965 the 80th anniversary of the ballerina was widely celebrated in London. All at this ceremony spoke about the unique charm and fortitude of this woman.

Tamara Platonovna Karsavina, Firebird of Russian Ballet, one of the brightest of its stars, was on this earth and in harmony with the stars that determined her fate: she died in the spring of 1978, at the age of 94. And she lived dignified and beautiful life.

Tamara Karsavina Dancing Flame

Painting, graphics and photo of Tamara Karsavina dancing flame

Russian ballet illustrated album.
World of art (Mir iskusstva), illustrated book