Dudinskaya, Natalya (1912—)

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Dudinskaya, Natalya (1912—)

Russian ballerina who was an instrumental performer, choreographer, and instructor at Russia's famed Kirov Ballet. Name variations: Natalia. Born Natalya Mikhailovna Dudinskaya in Kharkov, Ukraine, in 1912; daughter of Natalya Tagliori (a ballet dancer and a musician); studied dance under mother's tutelage, early 1920s; attended the Leningrad School of Choreography, 1923–31; married Konstantin Sergeyev.

Joined Kirov Ballet (1931); appeared in title role of Cinderella (1946); began teaching at the Kirov (1951); retired from dancing (1961); appeared as Carabosse in film version of Cinderella (1964).

Roles created by Dudinskaya include title role in Laurencia (1936), Mireille de Poitiers in Flames of Paris, Corali in Lost Illusions, Pannochka in Taras Bulba, title role in Gayané, Paragna in Bronze Horseman (1949), and Sarie in Path of Thunder (1957). Also appeared in Les Sylphides, Cinderella (1946), Raymonda, Don Quixote, La Bayadére, Esmeralda, and as Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream.

Natalya Mikhailovna Dudinskaya was born in 1912 in Kharkov, then the capital of the Ukraine. Her mother Natalya Tagliori was a dancer who ran a ballet studio in the city, and Dudinskaya began classes there at the age of eight. Around 1923, she journeyed to the city of Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) to begin classes at the Petrograd Ballet School. For the last three years of her formal training, in the late 1920s, she studied under famed ballerina Agrippina Vaganova . Dudinskaya made her debut as Princess Florine in Sleeping Beauty even before her graduation in 1931, and soon after joined the company of the renowned Kirov Ballet (now the St. Petersburg Ballet). The Kirov was once the Imperial Russian Ballet, and Vaganova herself had helped resurrect its reputation after its decline following the Bolshevik Revolution of 1917. Along with the Bolshoi Ballet, the Kirov was considered one of Russia's premier cultural institutions, and its international reputation was equally esteemed. Dudinskaya eventually became its prima ballerina. One of her first roles there was as Odette-Odile in Swan Lake.

Dudinskaya became romantically involved with Konstantin Sergeyev, a choreographer at the Kirov, and married him after World War II. In 1946, she created the title role in his version of Sergei Prokofiev's Cinderella on the Moscow stage, and he directed her in numerous other works over the years. She began teaching at the school of the Kirov Ballet in 1951 and formally retired from the stage ten years later. Having studied under Vaganova at a crucial period in her training, Dudinskaya is considered to have adapted her mistress' techniques and style to a high degree, and imparted these to a new generation of students in her classes. Later in her career, Dudinskaya choreographed some ballets together with Sergeyev, including Hamlet (1970), Le Corsaire (1973), and Beethoven's Appassionata (1977). For her achievements, she has been cited as a Peoples' Artist of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.

Carol Brennan , Grosse Pointe, Michigan