Ballet dancer and teacher. People’s Artist of the USSR (1951). Twice Hero of Socialist Labour (1974, 1980). Her father was a ballet dancer and producer and her mother was a ballet dancer and teacher.
In 1928 Ulanova finished the Leningrad Choreography School (her mother M.F. Romanova’s class and A.Ya. Vaganova’s graduation class). In the graduation production she appeared in “Chopiniane” (waltz and mazourka) and in the pas de deux of the Dragee and Prince from “Nutcracker”. In the same year she was admitted to the ballet company of the Leningrad Opera and Ballet Theatre. She made her debut in the part of Princess Florina (“Sleeping Beauty”). In 1944-1960 she was a soloist of the Bolshoi Theatre.
Even at the outset of Ulanova’s dancing career the critics pointed out the complete harmony of her dancing technique, drama acting and plasticity. Without violating the strictly precise lines and forms of classical ballet dancing, she imbued them with a tremulous mood, with grace and musicality added to simple ordinary actions and the most complicated and technically sophisticated dancing movements looked quite unconstrained and expressive like a natural human gesture. The special nature of Ulanova’s virtuosity lies in the continuity of her movements which was neither interrupted nor completed but seemed to die away, thus creating a dancing touchee, pianissimo, gentle expressiveness. Ulanova’s movements and poses were never overprecise, her dancing had a flowing quality reflecting the finest traits of her heroines’ inner world and the shades of their moods. A perfect classical ballet dancer, Ulanova was not only a remarkable performer of the parts of Odette-Odille (for the first time in 1929), Aurora (1929), Masha (“Nutcracker”, 1934, choreographer V.I. Vainonen, the first to dance it) and the creator of the inimitable image of Giselle (1932) but also an actress who proved that it was possible to “translate” into the language of dancing the great poets’ works of profound philosophic meaning, devoted to human passions and emotions.
Ulanova’s creative work developed gradually from lyrical to tragic subjects. With the passage of time her fragile and defenseless Maria (“The Fountain of Bakhchisarai”, 1934, choreographer R.V. Zakharov, the first to dance it) displayed the traits of irreconcilability and the gentle Juliet (1940, the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theatre, choreographer L.M. Lavrovsky, the first to dance it; 1946, the Bolshoi Theatre, the same choreographer, USSR State Prize, 1947) revealed passion and will. The episode of madness in “Giselle” was the peak of manifestation of Ulanova’s tragic gift.
Ulanova took part in the shooting of the feature film “Ballet Soloist” (1946), in the film concerts “Grand Concert” (1951), “Concert of Masters of Arts” (1952), “Russian Ballet Stars” (1953), in the film-ballet “Romeo and Juliet” (1954). The documentary film “Galina Ulanova” (1963) and the TV film “Ulanova’s World” (1981) were devoted to her creative activity USSR State Prize (1941). Lenin Prize (1957).
Ulanova, a great Russian ballerina created magnificent images and incarnated in her dancing most complicated dramatic collisions and developed the principles and traditions of the Russian school of choreography. She has won world recognition. She is the winner of the following international prizes: Anna Pavlova Prize of the Paris Academy of Dancing (1958); Oscar Parcelli Prize “Life for the Sake of Dancing” (1988 Milano). On November 16, 1981 a UNESCO – sponsored evening, devoted to Ulanova was held in Paris, with the ballet “In Ulanova’s Honour” shown (choreographer Vasiliev). Ulanova’s statue is installed in Stockholm (sculptor E.A. Yanson-Manizer, 1984), and her bronze bust, in St. Petersburg (sculptor M.K. Anikushin, 1984). Honorary Member of the US Academy of Arts and Sciences; Comandore Order for contribution in the sphere of art and literature (France, 1992).
Galina Ulanova died on March 21, 1998.