Digital exhibits

Throughout a ballet artist’s entire creative life, they remain a pupil. Much of the artist’s fate depends on their teacher. Vladimir Vasilev, by his own admission, was incredibly lucky when, in 1962, he became the first pupil of the legendary dancer, Alexei Nikolaevich Ermolaev. The first part prepared by Ermolaev and Vasilev – Basil in the ballet Don Quixote - created a furor, and was a real revolution in the ballet world. Nowadays this reworking is considered a classic and is erroneously accredited to the choreographers Marius Petipa and Alexander Gorsky. Thanks to Leonid Zhdanov’s wonderful photographs, the real course of events can be restored and we are able take a glimpse into the inner sanctum of the theatre – the rehearsal rooms, which are strictly off limits to the public.
Many films and television programmes have been made about Yury Grigorovich, the choreographer, and his era, the name of which is linked to the concept of the Golden Age of the Bolshoi Theatre. Books and albums have also been published on his work. However, the ballet master himself is delighted to admit that there have never been any exhibitions like this before. It is well known that choreography as a profession gradually replaced Yury Grigorovich’s first profession – acting. But looking at Leonid Zhdanov’s photographs it has to be admitted that this is a very controversial statement. It would seem that he himself, the ballet master Yury Grigorovich, was not only the first, but also the best performer of the most varied parts in his ballets.
During the Renaissance period such people were called “titans”. Goleyzovsky was not only a great choreographer, but also a talented artist, poet, musician and scholar. He was often ahead of his time and paid for this by being cast out of the Theatre.

He spent the final period of his life, in the 1960’s and 70’s, in the village of Bekhovo, dubbed “Kasyanovka” by Goleyzovsky himself. There he prepared for the publication of his manuscripts, carved wood, created fantastic masks, and wrote stories…

Everything that Goleyzovsky lived for in Bekhovo, everything that he thought and dreamed of there is embodied in a photo narrative, unique in terms of its content and created by a friend of the ballet master, the photographer Leonid Zhdanov. Thanks largely to his efforts, the name of Goleyzovsky was rescued from oblivion.
In the history of ballet in the second half of the 20th Century it is difficult to find two dancers so different from each other. Semenova – passionate, bright, magnificent, like an ancient goddess descended from the heights of Mount Olympus and Ulanova – delicate, refined, almost ephemeral, with an appearance reminiscent of Botticelli’s Madonnas. It is no wonder that when comparing their talents one was called the Sun and the other the Moon. They were not only contemporaries, but also pupils at the St. Petersburg school and students of A.Vaganova. Semenova graduated in 1925 and Ulanova in 1928. First they were soloists at the Kirov Leningrad Theatre of Opera and Ballet, then the Bolshoi Theatre, and later on they both became teachers and tutors at the Bolshoi Theatre. They lived a long life in the theatre. Each one hardly noticed the other…As happens with the Sun and the Moon.