In memory of Marina Semyonova
Russia’s outstanding ballerina Marina Semyonova died in Moscow on Wednesday. She would have turned 103 on June 12th.
Marina Semyonova devoted 36 years of her life to ballet and more than half a century to teaching the young. She starred as Odette-Odile in “Swan Lake” by Tchaikovsky, Nikiya in “La Bayadere” by Minkus and Raymonda in the namesake ballet by Glazunov. Among her devoted admirers were Stefan Zweig, Leo Tolstoy and Sergei Prokofieff. One of the prominent partners she danced with was Serge Lifar.
Marina Semyonova went down in history as the “savior” of the art of ballet. When in 1918 the Bolsheviks were about to ban ballet as a “bourgeois art”, Education Minister Anatoly Lunacharsky brought all members of the Soviet of People’s Commissars to a ballet which featured the participation of Semyonova. The Bolshevik commissars were so impressed that they resolved to give ballet their support.
Semyonova started her career during the lifetime of Marius Petipa, the founder of Russian ballet in the 19th century. And she ended her career against the backdrop of a host of remarkable ballet stars she had brought to stardom. Among them is the brilliant Maya Plisetskaya. All of Semyonova’s students recall their teacher with admiration. Marina Kondratieva is Semyonova’s successor at the Bolshoi.
"Marina Semyonova worked like a sculptor, sculpting the dance to follow a clear pattern and teaching each of her students to build their dance along these lines. No one can compare to Semyonova," says the Bolshoi lead dancer and Semyonova’s student Nikolai Tsiskaridze. "I fell in love with her, he says, with doglike devotion. I trusted her unconditionally, and time has proven her right. I now see that she was right on all occasions, even when I contradicted her."
Marina Semyonova was obsessed with the art of dancing. Her selfless devotion to ballet will be lighting the hearts of new generations of dancers for years and years in the future.