Ballerina Sculpture by Elena Yanson Manizer
This gypsum sculpture of Ballerina was made in 1933 in the USSR. The author of the sculpture – Elena Yanson-Manizer (1890-1971) – a famous Russian sculptor and graphic artist with a subtle sense of ballet. The author has created a series of sculptures devoted to such ballet performances, as “Swan Lake”, “The Fountain of Bakhchisarai”, “Romeo and Juliet”, and “Egyptian Nights”. Works by Yanson-Manizer constitute the “golden fund” of Soviet sculptural plasticity of the twentieth century, and many of them exhibited in museum collections, such as the State Tretyakov Gallery, the Russian Museum and others. As for the sculpture in the above photo, it is not just a collective image of an abstract ballerina – it is a legendary dancer of the XX century Natalia Dudinskaya.
Biography of Natalia Dudinskaya starts long before she was born – when her mother, also Natalia, in her youth was fascinated by ballet. She studied music, and could have a great future as a violinist, but she dreamed only of dancing. Although she started taking lessons at the age of sixteen, she has achieved a lot and began performing under the name of Tagliere. Then, when she married General Mikhail Dudinsky, she moved from St. Petersburg to Kharkov, to the place of his service. And there, on August 8, 1912 was born their daughter, named also Natalia.
Her mother found a ballet studio for the girl. So, Natalia began her ballet career in early childhood. Very soon she manifested her innate artistry and musicality. She loved ballet, carefully and curiously peered into the dance and surprisingly easy, ingeniously imitated it. Soon, no one has had doubt that the girl was talented, needed to dance and improve her talent. That’s why Natalia left ballet school in Kharkov and moved to Leningrad to study at the Ballet School.
The girl belonged to employment seriously and selflessly, sometimes fanatically. She studied in the ballet class already after classes were over. Dudinskaya rehearsed dance moves with this obsession longing to bring the technique to perfection. And her teacher, Vaganova knew – her pupil is not only a virtuoso performer, but also a deeply gifted dramatic actress.
Upon the graduation from school, her final performance was held June 22, 1931. It was the ballet “Le Corsaire”. She was to dance a duo with Konstantin Sergeyev, who had just graduated from college. The duo had their first joint performance and it was another extremely important moment in the life of Dudinskaya. Then, they did not know that a few years later fate would bring them together again, and they would become famous as a great ballet couple. And of course, did not know they would become a husband and wife, thanks to Vaganova, who created their duo.
Talent and possibilities of nineteen-year-old Dudinskaya at that time were so great that in the first season she got the role of Odette-Odile in “Swan Lake.” In addition, after the “Swan Lake” was the “Sleeping Beauty.” Dudinskaya loved her part of Aurora, consistent with her life spirit. She was delicate Giselle, trusting and devoted Nikia, mysterious and enigmatic Medora, radiant Kitri, romantic Masha, and exquisitely fabulous Raymonda.
The first years of her performances at the Leningrad Theatre of Kirov were particularly difficult, because on the stage already shone Galina Ulanova. She was recognized as a dancer, and Dudinskaya was yet to win recognition.
In 1941, in connection with the beginning of World War II, the theater evacuated to Perm, where work continued under difficult circumstances. In December 1942, was the premiere of ballet “Gayane” by Aram Khachaturian, where Natalia danced the leading part. It was during the evacuation she became closer with Konstantin Sergeyev. One of the successes of this exceptional duo – the ballet “Cinderella”, after which their creative path has already become inseparable. Besides, the successful cooperation was in the ballet “The Bronze Horseman.” In the 1940s Dudinskaya was literally showered with state awards.
Natalia Dudinskaya has performed on the stage of the Kirov (now Mariinsky) theater for 33 years. And thanks to the excellent skills of the ballerina, she had long-lived career on the stage. Although, in the film-ballet “Sleeping Beauty” – she was then fifty-four years old, her technique would envy the young.
Among the partners of Dudinskaya were such legendary dancers, as Vakhtang Chabukiani, Boris Bregvadze, and Konstantin Sergeyev. In addition, she became the first partner of Rudolf Nureyev at the Kirov Theater. To dance with a dancer of such level and such glory in “Don Quixote” was for a young dancer a real support, and a solid advance.
Leaving the scene, Dudinskaya continued to live with ballet and, and until recently, did not leave teaching at the Vaganova School (now the Academy of Russian Ballet), where she worked for over half a century. The famous ballerina Natalia Dudinskaya died January 29, 2003 in St. Petersburg on the 91st year of life.