The Russian Swan

8 January marks the birthday of Galina Ulanova, in St. Petersburg Russia, in 1910. In 1944 she became the Prima Ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet.  In the USSR she was awarded the Stalin Prize in 1941, 1946, 1947, and 1950.  France would award her the ‘Commander of Arts and Letters’ in 1992. After World War II she toured Europe and America, bringing her performances to London, Vienna, Florence, Venice and New York.

She is considered one of the great ballerinas of the 20th century and drew world-wide acclaim for her artistry. English ballerina Margot Fonteyn reflected on the impact of Ulanova by saying, “I cannot even begin to talk about Ulanova’s dancing, it is so marvelous, I am left speechless. It is magic. Now we know what we lack.” French choreographer Maurice Bejart said “Galina Ulanova is a ballerina who has grasped the profoundest secrets of art, she has united feelings and their outer expression into an indivisible whole.” Her Soviet compatriot, Ballerina Maya Plisetskaya simply said, “She was an angel and she danced like one.”

Below is a brief film clip from 1956….