Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Irina Baronova

Yet another loss for Russian arts and culture with the passing of Irina Baronova.

From the San Francisco Chronicle:
" She came to fame at the age of 12 when Balanchine cast her in a 1931 Paris staging of composer Jacques Offenbach's operetta "Orpheus in the Underworld." French critic Andre Levinson wrote, "The sensation of the evening was the tiny child Baronova, who went through the final galop (gallop) like a whirlwind."

A year later, Balanchine recruited Ms. Baronova, Tamara Toumanova, 14, and Tatiana Riabouchinska, 15, to be the stars of a new Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo, successor to the Ballets Russes de Diaghilev.

The three dancers were dubbed the "baby ballerinas" by British critic Arnold Haskell and promoted as such by impresario Sol Hurok for their first U.S. tour in 1933.

Toumanova died in 1996 in Santa Monica, and Riabouchinska in 2000 in Los Angeles.

Ms. Baronova, known for her beauty, grandeur and warm temperament, danced such classical and Romantic ballets as "The Sleeping Beauty," "Swan Lake," "Les Sylphides" and "Coppelia."

Her stage partners included Serge Lifar and Anton Dolin. In those heady times, artists Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dali, Joan Miro, Marc Chagall and Henri Matisse often designed sets and costumes for the Ballets Russes.

During her career, Ms. Baronova also appeared in several films, including "Florian" (1940) and "Yolanda" (1943), and in musicals and plays, including "Follow the Girls," "Bullet in the Ballet" and "Dark Eyes."

In 2005, she wrote her autobiography, "Irina: Ballet, Life and Love."

Ms. Baronova moved to Byron Bay in 2000 to be near her daughter, Irina. Survivors include her three children, six grandchildren and a great-granddaughter."

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