Leonid Zhdanov’s archive

Leonid Zhdanov’s photo archive is one of the largest ballet photo annals not only in Russia but all over the world. At present the archive numbers around 200 000 items with new works being added to it all the time.

Leonid Zhdanov’s archive which is in fact the artistic annals of Russian ballet covering the period from the middle of the 20th to the turn of the 21st century is unprecedented in scope, depth and diversity. No one before Zhdanov ever did what he has. With the love for detail of a researcher and the inspiration of a true artist, he has captured in his photos an entire epoch in the life of a ballet company.

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The heart and soul of the archive is a vast number of images connected with the history and the present day of the Bolshoi Ballet. Among them are the trademarks of the Bolshoi in its “golden age” – the famous productions, their outstanding performers, choreographers, teachers, artists, and conductors, the mysterious and intriguing backstage life, the world of ballet classes and rehearsals, closed to the outsider, where new ideas were formed giving birth to masterpieces of ballet art and to the parts that made their authors famous overnight.

Photos of the Mariinski ballet Company stand apart in Leonid Zhdanov’s archive. They cover some 50 years – from the late 1950s to the present day. Among them are unique snapshots of ballets taken at home and abroad and of rehearsals featuring leading dancers of the world famous company.

A large part of the archive is devoted to the history and the present day of the Stanislavski and Nemirovich-Danchenko Moscow Academic Music theater, the National Ballet Company led by N.Kasatkina and V.Vasiliev, as well as some other ballet companies of Russia.

Another extensive section of the archive deals with the art of such world famous ballet personalities as Marina Semyonova, Kasyan Goleizovski, George Balanchine, Galina Ulanova, Jerome Robins, Liane Dayde, Alicia Alonso, Maya Plisetskaya, Leonid Lavrovski, Yuri Grigorovich, Maurice Bejart, Leonid Jakobson, Irina Kolpakova, Yuri Solovyov, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Vladimir Vasiliev, Jorje Donn, Ekaterina Maximova, Natalia Bessmertnova, Mikhail Lavrovski, Ludmila Semenyaka, Tatiana Golikova, Vladimir Derevyanko, etc.

The archive is constantly augmented with new works, including portraits of contemporary ballet stars, such as Uliana Lopatkina, Diana Vishneva, Nikolai Tsiskaridze, Maria Alexandrova, and Dmitri Gudanov to name just a few.

The archive presents its materials on photographic negatives and in electronic format.

At present more than 30 000 negatives have been digitized.

The bulk of the archive is yet to receive a second lease on life thanks to broad possibilities provided by the latest technologies.