By Elena Tchernichova
Dancing on Water is either a private coming-of-age tale and a sweeping examine ballet existence in Russia and the us through the golden age of dance. Elena Tchernichova takes us from her youth in the course of the siege of Leningrad to her mother’s alcoholism and suicide, and from her adoption by way of Kirov ballerina Tatiana Vecheslova, who entered her into the country ballet institution, to her occupation 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 was once referred to as “the most vital behind-the-scenes strength for switch in ballet today,” by means of fashion journal. She coached stars and corps de ballet alike, and helped mildew the careers of a few of the good dancers of the age, together with Gelsey Kirkland, Cynthia Gregory, Natalia Makarova, and Alexander Godunov. Dancing on Water is a journey de strength, exploring the top degrees of the area of dance.
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Additional resources for Dancing on Water: A Life in Ballet, from the Kirov to the ABT
One of them visited Li Shanfu’s cabaret and he commanded Tao-Hoa to dance, showing the Russians his prize. She performed with two fans given to her by an old lady in the crowd, a confidante to Tao-Hoa. Then Tatiana signaled to the old lady, who put a set of mandarin finger guards into my hands. She gave me a little shove toward Tatiana and I stumbled toward her, my heart in my mouth. Everything was unpredictable here, just like life. Then Tatiana was dancing again, starting with hands pressed against her chest, raising one finger, then two, then fluttering both hands, while doing little steps around the stage with a mincing Chinese flavor that required a difficult coordination between hands and legs.
Onstage, I could be whatever I imagined. What I lacked in reality I could have in theatrical fantasy. One Christmas, I stood in the crowded wings of the theater before a performance of The Nutcracker. A woman in nineteenth-century costume approached and laid a firm hand on my shoulder. ” I was dressed as a boy because I was much taller than most of the girls in my class. My hair was parted and tucked under a beret. My “mama” was Maria Halina, an outstanding character dancer. Her son, Konstantin Rassadin, who also became one of our leading character dancers, was two years ahead of me in school.
Energy flew from her, and joie de vivre. Over dinner she joked, made us comfortable; they all were very convivial. The three wanted to adopt me, and what did my grandmother think about it? She told them it would be my decision, not hers. “Of course, we understand,” they said diplomatically. Tatiana asked if I’d like to audition for the Choreographitschka, the state ballet school in Leningrad. ” My mother and I had passed the school almost every day, gazing down Rossi Street, a magnificent vista crowned by the Pushkin Theater, flanked by two long colonnades.