May 01, 1998

Notebook



Simple Goddess Passes

Legendary Russian ballet star Galina Ulanova, whom writer Alexei Tolstoy dubbed a “simple Goddess,” died this March at the age of 88. Ulanova was born in 1910 into a family of dancers and began her career at the Mariinsky theater, where she soon became a prima ballerina. In 1944, she moved to Moscow’s Bolshoi theater (many claim at the insistence of Joseph Stalin). 

Ulanova’s star shone brightly on the stage of the Bolshoi from 1944 to 1960. In 1956, during the ballet’s London tour, Ulanova starred in a triumphant performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s Romeo and Juliet that won her a standing ovation. As The Moscow Times noted, “although she was 45 at the time, there have been few Juliets to match the lightness and picture of innocence of Ulanova.” Ulanova also performed on the stages of the United States in 1959, just a few years before her final retirement as a performer. 


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