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Marina Semyonova
Born June 12, 1908 (1908-06-12) (age 101)
Occupation Dancer

Marina Timofeyevna Semyonova[p] (Russian: Марина Тимофеевна Семёнова, born in Saint-Petersburg on 12 June 1908 [O.S. 31 May]) is the first Soviet-trained prima ballerina. She was named a People's Artist of the USSR in 1975.

The first great dancer formed by Agrippina Vaganova, she graduated from the Vaganova School in 1925, which "is registered in the annals of Soviet ballet as the year of the unprecedented triumph of Marina Semyonova"[1]. She worked in the Kirov Ballet until 1930 when Stalin had her transferred to the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. There she married Lev Karakhan, an Old Bolshevik and Deputy Foreign Minister, best known as an advisor to Sun Yat-sen. He was purged in 1937.

Semyonova was guest with the Paris Opéra Ballet in 1935 where she danced Giselle with Serge Lifar.[2] She received the Stalin Prize for 1941 and retired in 1952. After that, she became one of the most important teachers and répétiteurs of the Bolshoi Theatre. Natalia Bessmertnova, Marina Kondratieva, Nadezhda Pavlova, Nina Sorokina, Ludmila Semenyaka, Nina Timofeyeva and Nina Ananiashvili were among her adepts.

Semyonova retired from her coaching duties at the age of 96. She is known for her friendship with young danseur Nikolay Tsiskaridze who interviewed her on several occasions. She also has a daughter by elocutionist Vsevolod Aksyonov. In 2008, the Bolshoi Theatre celebrated Semyonova's centenary.


[p] - The name "Semyonova" is pronounced as "Sem-YOH-no-vah".
  1. ^ Agrippina Vaganova. Basic Principles of Classical Ballet. Courier Dover Publications, 1969. ISBN 0-486-22036-2. Page IX.
  2. ^ Her foreign tour was opposed vehemently by Klim Voroshilov who wrote to Stalin: "At one time I was certain that Chaliapine would return. I even bet a bottle of cognac with the late Mikhail Frunze. And I lost. It is quite conceivable that Semyonova will not return". To this Lazar Kaganovich responded: "I think she will not escape. She is a very proper person and it makes little sense for her to escape. She is not tempted by money, the high life, etc". — quoted in Miklos Kun. Stalin: An Unknown Portrait. Central European University Press, 2003. ISBN 963-9241-19-9. Page 225.

Further reading

  • M.T. Semyonova. Moscow, 1953.
  • S. Ivanova. Marina Semyonova. Moscow, 1965.

External links



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