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||June 12, 1908
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
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". 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. 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
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
Agrippina Vaganova. Basic Principles of Classical Ballet.
Courier Dover Publications, 1969. ISBN 0-486-22036-2. Page IX.
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.
- M.T. Semyonova. Moscow, 1953.
- S. Ivanova. Marina Semyonova. Moscow, 1965.