Olga Preobrajenska

Olga Iosifovna Preobrajenska (Russian: О́льга Ио́сифовна Преображе́нская; born Preobrazhenskaya; 2 February [O.S. 21 January] 1871 – 27 December 1962) was a Russian ballerina of the Russian Imperial Ballet and a ballet instructor.

Olga Preobrajenskaya
Corsaire -Olga Preobrajenska -1899.jpg
Preobrajenskaya as the Tsar Maiden from The Little Humpbacked Horse, ca. 1907
Olga Iosifovna Preobrazhenskaya

(1871-01-21)21 January 1871
Died27 December 1962(1962-12-27) (aged 91)
OccupationPrima ballerina, ballet teacher
Former groupsRussian Imperial Ballet
Preobrajenska, 1903


She was born in Saint Petersburg as Olga Preobrazhenskaya (the final syllable of her surname was dropped to shorten her name for professional purposes, and she used the French transliteration, Preobrajenska).

Olga—born frail and with a crooked spine—was an unlikely prima ballerina. But she had dreams of being a dancer, and for years her parents tried unsuccessfully to get her enrolled in dance school. The selection committee repeatedly rejected her as a candidate. But after three years of trying, her parents succeeded and the eight-year-old Olga entered the Imperial Ballet School in 1879.[1]

Despite her physical shortcomings, Preobrazhenskaya grew strong with training under Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov and Anna Johansson.[2] She developed excellent turnout and toe point, though her hunched back remained troublesome.[1] She was naturally expressive, bringing new life to a "hackneyed" repertoire, and exhibited the desired softness and grace of a dancer.[3]

In addition to her love of dance, Preobrazhenskaya had musicality to go with it; she studied singing, performed opera arias, and played the piano masterfully.[1]

In 1892, she made her debut in Kalkabrino, the first of her many performances in Petipa creations, which included Bluebeard (1896), Les Millions d'Arlequin (1900) and Les Saisons (1900). She also performed in Ivanov and Gerdt's Sylvia (1901), Nikolai and Sergei Legat's The Fairy Doll (1903), and Mikhail Fokin's The Night of Terpsichore and Chopiniana (1908).[2]

In 1895, she began to make international appearances, including in Paris, London and the United States.[2] In 1900, she achieved the title of prima ballerina. One of her finest moments as a performer was dancing at Milan's La Scala theatre. She received critical acclaim and audience adoration, no small feat for a Russian ballerina trained in the Italian school.[3]

She then began to pay more attention to ballet instruction; in 1914, she began her teaching career in Saint Petersburg, where her pupils included Alexandra Danilova. In 1921, following the Russian Revolution and the establishment of the Soviet Union, she emigrated and taught for two years in Milan, London, Buenos Aires and Berlin, before finally settling in with the large white émigré community in Paris.[2]

For the next several decades, she was one of the most prominent ballet teachers in Paris, instructing Irina Baronova, Tatiana Dokoudovska, Tamara Toumanova and Igor Youskevitch. She finally retired in 1960; she died two years later, aged 91. She was buried in the Russian Orthodox section of the Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois Russian Cemetery.


See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c Ольга Иосифовна Преображенская [Olga Iosifovna Preobrazhenskaya] (in Russian). BelCanto. 5 April 2011. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  2. ^ a b Yuri Bakhrushin. Преображенская Ольга Иосифовна [Preobrazhenskaya Olga Iosifovna] (in Russian). RussianCulture.ru. Retrieved 21 March 2015.
  3. ^ "Andros on Ballet // Vladimir Dokoudovsky (1919—1998)". Michaelminn.net. 1919-05-13. Retrieved 2013-09-09.
  4. ^ "Nicholas Orloff (1914 - 2001)". Michaelminn.net. 14 August 2001. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  5. ^ "Oxford Dictionary of Dance: Vladimir Skouratoff". Answers.com. 1925-03-12. Retrieved 9 September 2013.
  6. ^ Нина Вырубова: танцы — занятие не нашего круга [Nina Vyroubova: Dances aren't our affair]. Kommersant (in Russian). 12 August 1999. Retrieved 21 March 2015.

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