Dancing on Water: A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the by Elena Tchernichova

By Elena Tchernichova

Dancing on Water is either a private coming-of-age tale and a sweeping examine ballet lifestyles in Russia and the us in the course of the golden age of dance. Elena Tchernichova takes us from her adolescence in the course of the siege of Leningrad to her mother’s alcoholism and suicide, and from her adoption through Kirov ballerina Tatiana Vecheslova, who entered her into the country ballet university, to her profession within the American Ballet Theatre.

As a pupil and younger dancer with the Kirov, she witnessed the company’s achievements as a castle of vintage ballet, domestic to mythical names—Shelest, Nureyev, Dudinskaya, Baryshnikov—but additionally a hotbed of intrigue and ambition run amok. As ballet mistress of yankee Ballet Theatre from 1978 to 1990, Elena used to be known as “the most crucial behind-the-scenes strength for swap in ballet today,” through fashion journal. She coached stars and corps de ballet alike, and helped mould the careers of a few of the nice dancers of the age, together with Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Gregory, Natalia Makarova, and Alexander Godunov. Dancing on Water is a travel de strength, exploring the top degrees of the area of dance.

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Extra resources for Dancing on Water: A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT

Sample text

By the dock the workers started unloading cargo from the Russian ship. A sadistic foreman whipped their backs. Some fell to the ground and struggled up again. Be whipped raw or shot dead: the choice was mine! Across the stage, Tatiana saw me grow wide-eyed. She improvised some mime passage to allow her to come over and give me a hug. “Everything’s fine,” she whispered. During intermission, we were to be debriefed in the wings. I was trembling, paralyzed by all that had transpired onstage. Finally a dancer pulled me from the stage.

Since our forks and knives were to be placed in parallel position, anything else eventually came to look to my eyes as graphic as splayed limbs. The school was headed by Agrippina Vaganova, the most renowned m a k e - be l i e v e c 17 ballet teacher in Soviet Russia. Vaganova was born in 1879. She had been a soloist of the Imperial Ballet and then, shortly before retiring in 1916, was promoted to the rank of ballerina. At the time, the Russian school had been a blend of French and Italian influences.

We children hadn’t been given any rehearsal, because we weren’t dancing steps in The Red Poppy; we were just part of the crowd. “Stay close to your ‘parents’ onstage,” was all I had been told by Tyuntina. Tao-Hoa’s cabaret was run by Li Shanfu, a spy for the imperial government. He kept her as his slave, his concubine. An enormous boat steamed into the harbor and a platoon of Russian marines disembarked. One of them visited Li Shanfu’s cabaret and he commanded Tao-Hoa to dance, showing the Russians his prize.

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