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  Michael Meylac    

Conversation With Alexandra Danilova, 1992

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     The most celebrated ballerina of the older generation, and the only one of the Ballets Russes dancers interviewed for this book to have studied in Russia under Olga Preobrazhenska, ‘Shoura’ Danilova (1904-1997), whom I went to see at her Manhattan apartment, had already danced as a soloist for the Mariinsky Theatre before emigrating, and like Tamara Geva made her debut again with Diaghilev.  For the reticent Massine, who worked a great deal with Danilova, one word was enough to define the nature of her dancing: ‘Champagne.’
     An orphan, she was brought up by relatives in General M.I. Batyanov’s family, the rumour being that she was the illegitimate daughter of their son and a peasant woman. Despite the prejudices of courtly circles she was sent to the Theatre school where she was trained by the celebrated ballet teachers Elizabeth Guerdt, Agrippina Vaganova, and Olga Preobrazhenska – and thanks to her doll-like appearance  she danced the child roles in the Mariinsky theatre ballets throughout her school days.