Baronova, Irina 1919–2008

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Baronova, Irina 1919–2008


Born March 13, 1919, in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg), Russia; died June 28, 2008, in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia. Ballerina, actress, instructor, and author. Baronova was a child of the Russian Revolution who, with her parents, fled a comfortable existence in her homeland for a life of poverty in Romania, until her talent for ballet prompted a move to Paris, where she could train with the masters in Western Europe. Baronova was a professional ballerina from the age of about eleven or twelve, when she was presented to the world by ballet master George Balanchine in 1931 with three other young girls, who came to be known as the "baby ballerinas." She danced her way around the world with Balanchine's Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo until 1941, when she performed briefly with what is now the American Ballet Theater, which at the time was managed by her then-husband Jerry Sevastianov. The marriage soon ended in divorce, but Baronova continued to dance. She appeared in a few films in the 1940s, and in musicals and other stage plays, until she met and married British theatrical agent Cecil G. Tennant in 1946. In 1948, at his direction, she retired her ballet shoes forever. Baronova remained connected to the world of ballet as an affiliate and occasional instructor at the Royal Academy of Dancing in London. Her professional career may have ended prematurely, but Baronova was remembered as one of Balanchine's graceful and talented "baby ballerinas." Baronova remarried Sevastianov after Tennant's death in an auto accident in 1967, and remained with him until his death a few years later. Toward the end of her life, Baronova resettled in Australia and published an autobiography, Irina: Ballet, Life, and Love (2005), which drew praise from critics for her warm personality and her careful attention to detail, just as her dancing had done decades earlier.



Baronova, Irina, Irina: Ballet, Life, and Love, University Press of Florida (Gainesville, FL), 2005.

International Dictionary of Ballet, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1993.


Los Angeles Times, July 3, 2008, p. B9.

New York Times, July 2, 2008, p. A17.

Times (London, England), July 26, 2008, p. 66.

Washington Post, July 4, 2008, p. B7.


Ballets Russes (documentary film), Zeitgeist Films, 2005.