Voices from Russia

Wednesday, 9 June 2010

She Saved the Ballet…

Marina Semyonova (1908-2010), People’s Artist of the USSR, premier danseuse of the Bolshoi Theatre

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On 12 June, she would have turned 102… 36 years on stage and more than half a century devoted to the education of ballet dancers… such was the creative life of Marina Semyonova. Today, only a few are left who saw her stage triumphs as a brilliant artist in the most famous roes in the ballet, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake by Tchaikovsky, Nikiya in La Bayadère by Minkus, or the ballet Raymonda by Glazunov. Amongst her enthusiastic fans were Stefan Zweig, Aleksei Tolstoy, and Sergei Prokofiev, and her partners included such outstanding dancers as Serge Lifar.

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Semyonova dancing Swan Lake

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There is a remarkable episode on the biography of Marina Semyonova was a remarkable episode, which allows us to speak of her as the saviour of ballet. In 1918, the Bolsheviks decided to ban the ballet in Russia, as it was a “bourgeois entertainment”. However, the People’s Commissar of Education, Anatoly Lunacharsky, took the entire Council of People’s Commissars, the highest state body in Bolshevik Russia, to see a performance by Semyonova. What a wonder, she wowed the commissars, and came to the rescue of the ballet. Moreover, after that, they decided to support it.

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 Semyonova dancing The Boston Waltz… the music doesn’t start until 0:28

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Semyonova was born in the lifetime of Marius Petipa, the founder of the Russian ballet in the 19th century. Before her life ended, she was associated with the names of dozens of famous Russian dancers, who are called the “Semyonovksy Regiment”. Amongst the first in that regiment is the incomparable Maya Plisetskaya. It is impossible to count all those who did study or dreamed of studying under Semyonova, who used any means to get into her classes in the troupe of the Bolshoi Theatre. They all speak about their teacher with great admiration. Semyonova’s successor as a teacher in the Bolshoi Theatre, Marina Kondratieva, admired her style of working with students. “Always, she insisted on a very correct, very accurate, execution of any movement, and always… very beautiful. Semyonova paid great attention to the nuances of the dance, she shaped them, working with students like a sculptor, and with each one quite different”, Ms Kondratieva said to our Voice of Russia correspondent.

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Marina Semyonova in later years

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According to one of her last students, Nikolai Tsiskaridze, now a famous soloist at the Bolshoi Theatre and a teacher in his own right, “No one could match Semyonova. I was in love with her from the first second. It was not merely a good feeling for my teacher or devotion akin to puppy love. I trusted her unconditionally, and the longer I live, the more convinced I am that she was right… even when I didn’t listen, even when I resisted”. “Obsessed with the art of dance”… that’s what they said about Marina Semyonova. Her exceptional dedication to the ballet long served and will always serve as a beacon for all new generations of Russian ballet dancers.

Olga Bugrova

9 June 2010

Voice of Russia World Service

http://rus.ruvr.ru/2010/06/09/9465955.html

The Great Ballerina Marina Semyonova Died Today in Moscow

Marina Semyonova (1908-2010), People’s Artist of the USSR, one of the greats of the dance of the 20th century.

Today, in the one hundredth and second year of her life {she died only three days short of her birthday on 12 June: editor}, the great Russian ballerina, Marina Semyonova, died in Moscow. Everyone in world and Russian ballet mourns. She was a legend, who wrote some of the best pages in the history of the Bolshoi Theatre. Until the last moment, Marina Timofeyevna remained faithful to it. Here, she shone as a prima ballerina, and, for almost half a century, worked as a teacher. Amongst her students were Maya Plisetskaya, Natalia Bessmertnova, Nikolai Tsiskaridze, and other stars. She was the Goddess of Dance; it was the only possible way to describe Marina Semyonova. One could compare her with a sculptor, who prunes away everything extraneous until all that’s left is crystal-pure art. Very few are left of those who danced with the great ballerina on the stage. Nevertheless, everyone who saw her on the stage all say it is impossible to compare her with anyone else. She had a unique technique; it was a true flight of the soul. “She was a great dancer, she was the very image of the dance, her stage performance and her classical technique were nonpareil… no one surpassed her”, recalled Mikhail Lavrovsky, a teacher at the Bolshoi Theatre’s ballet school.

In 1918, she was a pupil of the legendary Agrippina Vaganova, who wrote the following words about Marina Timofeyevna, “She may be a dull blonde, but she will show everybody else how to dance”. Semyonova did show everybody… when she had barely finished ballet school, she literally saved the Russian classical ballet. “She was a model of classical ballet. The fact that ballet existed in Soviet Russia is thanks to her. In 1925, a commission wished to do away with this art. However, they came to one of her performances. It so enthralled them that they decided to spare the ballet”, said People’s Artist of Russia Nikolai Tsiskaridze. First, she danced on the stage of the Mariinsky, then for the Bolshoi. Her roles included Odette-Odile, Giselle, and Raymonda. As one of the first Soviet ballerinas to go on tour abroad, she danced on the stage of the Paris Opera at the invitation of Serge Lifar. In 1937, she became an “undesirable” after the execution of her husband, Lev Karakhan, a Deputy Commissar for Foreign Affairs. Faina Ranevskaya said, “Marinochka, this is your profession… it’s the same as hard labour in lace” (Мариночка, эта твоя профессия… это же каторга в цветах). All those who were fortunate enough to be close to Semyonova said that, for her, as for Ranevskaya, if everything were written down, it would be an unbeatable collection of quotations. Marina Timofeyevna imparted understanding with well-chosen words and pointed jokes.

“She would say something as a joke, but it would be something important and great, that could change one’s fate. If you can compare it to someone in literature, I’d say it would be like people out a novel by Tolstoy”, said Lyudmila Semenyaka, a ballerina. Lyudmila Semenyaka was one of the “Semyonovsky Regiment”*, as the disciples of Marina Timofeyevna call themselves. Maya Plisetskaya, Nadezhda Pavlova, Galina Stepanenko, Nikolai Tsiskaridze… for all of them, Semyonova was a guardian angel and a mom, not just a teacher. To get into her class… this was the dream of all young artists. She was an absolute dictator, but she was adored. “She had a proud and regal manner, but when she led us, we submitted ourselves to her majesty and knowledge”, said Svetlana Adyrkhaeva, People’s Artist of the USSR. Marina Timofeyevna always said, “The exit from the stage should be a celebration, but it must also stir the soul. The audience is not fooled”. On the day of her 95th birthday, she left the Bolshoi Theatre, never to return, but her presence lingered on the stage, which she gave over seven decades of her life. Today, her portrait is hung with a mourning ribbon. She spent her long life in service to the dance, to the audience, and to her students, to whom she passed her secrets on for another generation.

9 June 2010

http://news.mail.ru/society/3945712/

  • The ”Semyonovsky Regiment” was one of the Guards Regiments in Tsarist times… thus, the term has a resonance for Russians that it lacks for Americans. By the way, I believe that Dmitri Schmemann was an officer in the Semyonovsky Regiment… if Andrei Dmitrievich lived up to that legacy, what does it say about Aleksandr Dmitrievich?

BMD

The Official Website of the MP Synodal Division for Church and Public Relations went Online Today

Filed under: Christian,internet,Moscow Patriarchate,Vsevolod Chaplin — 01varvara @ 00.00

Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin (1968- ), one of the most powerful clerics in the MP today.

On Wednesday, the new website of the MP Synodal Division on Church and Society Relations went on online, the site administrator told our Interfax-Religion correspondent. The main task of the new Internet resource is publicising the activities of the Division as a whole and its newly established branches: the Council on Economics and Ethics, and the Patriarchal Council of Orthodox Public Associations. In addition, the developers aim to provide information about the parish of St Nicholas on the Three Hills, whose rector is the head of the Division, Archpriest Vsevolod Chaplin. The website of the Division will publish Church-wide news, as well as materials relating exclusively to the activities of the Division. Readers will find texts, video, and audio with relevant commentary on current events, and media materials such as official letters, sermons, useful information, and photo albums. As indicated, you can get into contact with units of the Division. In addition, in the near future, the website will start broadcasting Sunday and holiday services from the parish of St Nicholas on the Three Hills. Technical and design support site was provided by the web-studio at the parish of St John of Kronshtadt in Hamburg, which is also the developer of the latest version of the site the MP Department for External Church Relations.

9 June 2010

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=35945

Editor’s Note:

Here is the URL for the new website (in Russian):

http://www.ovco.org/

This is interesting… not only is Fr Vsevolod on the web with a site as good as the Boy Blunder’s… he got HA’s webmaster to go to work for him, too. Hmm… I’d love to know the details of that bureaucratic duel… oh, well, we’ll never know. However, this much is clear… the Boy Wonder is not in KMG’s good graces. Do attend to Fr Vsevolod… he’s the real deal.

BMD

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev says that Patriarch Kirill Turned Around Inter-Orthodox Relations in the Space of a Year

Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev of Moscow and all the Russias (1946- ) with Patriarch Bartholomew Archontonis of Constantinople New Rome (1940- ) in Moscow. Those smiles are TOO broad… these guys hate each other’s guts, I’ll warrant.

Metropolitan Hilarion Alfeyev, the Head of the MP Department for External Church Relations, noted an improvement in the dynamics of inter-Orthodox dialogue ever since Patriarch Kirill Gundyaev took power. “Patriarch Kirill proposed to Patriarch Bartholomew a new format for our relations”, Vladyki Hilarion said in Moscow on Wednesday at a meeting with officials of the RF Foreign Ministry. As he described it, this format is based not on rivalry and mutual distrust, but on cooperation and a permanent system of mutual consultation and cooperation. Metropolitan Hilarion expressed a hope that “this new mechanism will work effectively”. In his opinion, during the first year of its existence, this mechanism “changed not just the relations between the MP and the EP, but the entire field of inter-Orthodox relations. Vladyki Hilarion reminded us about the difficult relations between the MP and the EP over the situation in Estonia in the mid-90’s, when the EP erected a church structure parallel to the structures of the MP. “This conflict has not been fully resolved, but, today, thanks to the wise, prudent, and, yes, prophetic position of Patriarch Kirill, these complex relationships are no longer in deadlock, but they are translated to a completely different plane”, Vladyki Hilarion concluded.

9 June 2010

Interfax-Religion

http://www.interfax-religion.ru/?act=news&div=35957

Editor’s Note:

Liar, liar, pants on fire! KMG is not only feeding Humble Pie to Bart, he’s force-feeding it to the Boy Wonder, too. KMG does not believe a word of the above… he’s got too much intelligence and he doesn’t believe his own propaganda, in any case. Neither Bart nor KMG trust one another… let alone have friendly feelings. KMG has had the whip hand ever since the Americans’ lickspittle Yushchenko lost the election… Bart was left flapping in the wind. Trust me… there’s more conflict yet to come… it’s just been delayed to another day.

The above is mere wind… treat it accordingly. Note well that KMG is taking the Boy Blunder out to the woodshed in public… what did he do in private to merit that? Oh, well… we’ll never know… it must have been a whopper, though!

BMD

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