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 Olga  Spessivtseva


Born:   18 July [O.S. 6 July] 1895
Deceased:   16 September 1991

Russian ballerina

      

Olga Alexandrovna Spessivtseva was born on July 18, 1895 in Rostov-on-Don, into the family of a theater actor.  After the death of her father Olga’s mother remained without means of support and thus gave the children to an orphanage at the House of Stage Veterans. From early childhood Olga was a gifted and flexible girl. Soon she was admitted to Theatrical School in St. Petersburg, where K.M.Kulichevskaya was her first teacher. The young ballerina debuted on the stage of the Mariinsky Theater in 1913 in the Raymonda ballet.  In spite of the fact that she performed a bit part, she was noticed.  Outstanding abilities and excellent external data allowed Spessivtseva to become one of the soloists of the Imperial Ballet troupe.

In 1918 she became a leading dancer, and in 1920 the prima-ballerina of the Mariinsky Theater. Critics considered Spessivtseva to be one of the best Giselles of the 20th century.  In 1923, after the death of her first husband, the ballerina toured in France first, and then in the USA, where she stayed for permanent residence.

In 1924-1932 Olga Spessivtseva was the leading invited ballerina of the Parisian Grand Opera.  The talented ballerina played the leads in The Swan Lake, Esmeralda, Giselle, La Bayadere, The Sleeping Beauty, Daughter of the Pharaoh and other well-known ballets. She got married for the second time to the Russian-French dancer and teacher N. Knyazev. Being trained as a classical ballerina, Olga Spessivtseva manifested an unexpected side of her talent when performing in the avant-garde ballets The Creatures of Prometheus, Bacchus and Ariadne staged by Serge Lifar. The ballerina performed for the last time in Paris in 1939. 
In 1943 her mental health worsened and she spent the following 20 years in a psychiatric clinic, where she was dismissed from as late as 1963. The great ballerina spent the last years of her life in New York in a care home under the Leo Tolstoy Fund. 

Olga Spessivtseva died in New York on September 16, 1991.
In 1996 the film director Alexey Uchitel released the movie Mania of Giselle dedicated to the life story of Olga Spessivtseva. Her role was played by the actress Galina Tyunina.


Tags: Olga Spessivtseva Russian Ballet Ballerinas   








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