What do great artists leave to future generations? Often very little: letters, quotations, photographs, films or videos which, like it or not, are unable to convey the feelings of contemporaries with their rapturous admiration and sometimes idolization of their heroes. As the years go by, the artist’s image becomes increasingly eroded by time, while legends, rumors and fabrication gradually impinge on the true portrait, sometimes investing it with colors that are totally unlike the original.Galina Sergeyevna Ulanova never bothered about reinforcing her position in the history of culture. Her rare interviews, few letters, aloofness from quarrels, squabbling, backstage and everyday problems are the best confirmation of this. What the name of Ulanova means for art will become clear when the opinions of people from all walks of life are gathered together: writers, artists, people in the performing arts, scientists, and ordinary members of the audience, who came under the influence of the work of the great ballerina. And it was to preserve and hand down to future generations those spiritual and moral ideals which made up the core of her being, that the Galina Ulanova Foundation was founded.
The dancer, actress and teacher continues to live on in her pupils. They are an example of an ongoing link between the generations.
It is they, in the first instance, who bear the responsibility for the purity and truth of feeling of their profession, a symbol of which was, is and always will be Galina Sergeyevna Ulanova.
President, The Galina Ulanova Foundation
“I always held you in the highest regard for having returned female grace to dance. A Botticelli-like grace – that was the most valuable thing you gave us.”
She is the genius of Russian ballet, its elusive soul, its inspired poetry. Ulanova imparts to her interpretation of classical roles a depth of expression unheard of in twentieth century ballet….
I have never seen anything like it in my life! God, the peaks and heights that creativity can achieve! It is the Divine spirit! I sat and shouted with delight at this formidable art. Only Chaliapin could affect one in this way! It was not even dance, it was singing. It is the first time, in many years, that I have been so shaken. Why have I not seen her before? To convey this impression in words is impossible. Thousands of thoughts went through my head. How could one keep this miracle on earth? How to pass on this Gospel to future generations, so that they could learn from Ulanova, this supreme, divine art?
The image of Ulanova – gentle, fragile and wise – was given to me in my early youth and is rooted in my heart and memory forever. Each encounter with Ulanova and her art, each memory of her – is always a great thrill and happiness. With thanks to her and gratitude to Fate for having given her to us.
To dance Shakespeare in such a way that people said this was a real Shakespearian character, that even in the play itself there was no Juliet like this – means to have opened a new page in the art of ballet. And this was what Ulanova did..
The talent of ballerina Ulanova amounts to a passion for, great devotion to, work. Her talent is that of one possessed by her work.
I know of no other artist to whom the phrase, ‘in service of the arts’, is more applicable.
When we talk in the past tense of a minor poet, we say: ‘He wrote’. But of Pushkin – we say ‘he writes’! Great art never fades. Even art that it is impossible to record and fully convey to future generations. It goes on living, for all that – it lives on in noble memories, in the traditions of the master, whose creative achievement will always remain a highpoint and criterion of art, of the beautiful, like Ulanova who will never be in the past, but always in the future!
To talk about her is just as difficult as it is to talk about Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony. We will be reduced to tears before we manage to give a rational, sober account of her art. Indeed, the great dancer’s strength is that she always reminds us of what is hidden deep down inside her and unexpressed.
Ulanova brings out huge reserves of feeling in her heroines – feeling that has a great ability to influence a man, ennoble his soul, bring beauty into his life. And the dancer does this not ‘head-on’, not openly, but by a hint, just very slightly revealing her motives, as if she were Mona Lisa with her enigmatic, but very feminine, half-smile.
Ulanova is Raphael with the soul of Michelangelo.
Ulanova has charted new paths in ballet …Not only has she given us unforgettable characters, she has created her own artistic world – a realm of human spirituality… Ulanova has transformed ballet into a popular art form. Thanks to her even its most implacable enemies have become its supporters and thousands of people now acknowledge ballet to be a vital necessity
Ulanova’s dance is a focus of extraordinary spirituality and skill, in it, as in an ancient temple, there is perfect balance and harmony of all the elements.
It is magic. Now we know what we lack.
I cannot even begin to talk about Ulanova’s dancing, it is so marvellous, I am left speechless.
Galina Ulanova is a ballerina who has grasped the profoundest secrets of art, she has united feelings and their outer expression into an indivisible whole.
Ulanova has created her own style, has schooled us to it. She represents an epoch, a time. She has her own hallmark. Like Mozart, Beethoven and Prokofiev she has had an impact, she has reflected her age.
Only she, the world’s Number One ballerina, kept unswervingly to her chosen course, always unassuming, modestly dressed, entirely absorbed in dance and totally unreceptive to backstage intrigue. Her inner strength, her human qualities – these explain why she has remained pure, untouched by the day-to-day hassle of theatre life.
I adore Ulanova-the dancer….I worship Ulanova-the teacher. What tenderness, what inexhaustible patience, what selflessness in her relationship with her pupils. Only a great artist can be so generous in giving and revealing her secrets…Can derive such genuine joy from the art of her pupils, seeing in it a continuation of her own life. With Galina Sergeyevna, it is not just a case of being obliged to work, it is a soul-felt wish, an inner necessity.
Watching Ulanova’s Odette, Aurora, Juliet always makes one think for some reason of the beauty of Russia, of its birch trees, meadows, northern white nights, Whatever Ulanova dances she is always Russian, she has a typically Russian charm, Russian timidity, Russian spiritual strength, a Russian ‘melancholy’. It is probably for this reason that she is our national pride and glory.
She conveys to us a different view of the world and of herself. How? This defies comprehension! She taught me, for instance, that the most important thing in life is not to lose one’s cool in difficult situations, not to condemn people in the heat of the moment, but to be able to understand them, relate to them with wisdom, without becoming embittered.
It is not that she says such things, this is how she lives. In her presence, it is impossible to be inwardly weak and impure, insincere. She has her own purifying mission in art…
I do not know how my life would have turned out had Ulanova not been at my side….My meeting with her is a permanent and extraordinary contribution to my awareness of many important and valuable ideas, discoveries.
She is higher than all things terrestrial, more delicate, purer, more refined, she is above everyone, above all the vain hassle of our world.
Right from my first rehearsal with Ulanova,
I realized that ahead of me lay a very hard, long, probably endless journey to great art. That she would demand of me the same measure of dedication that she did of herself. I believed in her every word, gesture, gaze, in all of her being.
It is difficult to chose word worthy of Ulanova, that unique phenomenon in the world of art. It seems to me one cannot do better than reiterate what Aleksei Tolstoy said: ‘The most ordinary of goddesses’.
Genius is not too strong a word for the dancing of Ulanova.
Galina Ulanova in London knew the greatest triumph of any individual dancer since Anna Pavlova. She said, typically, that it was not she who had made a conquest but the London audience which, by its warmth and sympathy, had enabled her to do her very best. Her quietness, simplicity and complete disregard for the publicity hounds of the West puzzled reporters — but won her a very deep respect.
In London she left the spectator with a feeling of being almost ennobled. of having been subjected to a great emotional and artistic experience. For this we shall ever be grateful.
When I was a young ballet student in America, Galina Ulanova was Russian Ballet for me.
I was fascinated more than anything else by the direct and honest humanity shining through Ulanova’s eyes. I was touched by a human being – a lovely woman dancing believable human situations so magnificently. She was never simply a “ballerina” dazzling us with her virtuosity. It was this indelible image of a woman, transparent in her palpable spirituality that haunted and inspired my own artistic quest.
I will remember the artist Ulanova with deep respect and great admiration – in my heart, I will always miss the woman.