April. Note in exercise-book:
April. 6th Giselle, ruptured ligament in right leg. October. 18th. Swan Lake, the swan for the first time since my injury, five and a half months ago.
1937 — it is noted in the exercise-book that in March, April, May and June she appeared several times in different ballets in Moscow, at the Bolshoi Theatre and also at the Green Theatre, in the Gorky Park of Culture and Rest.
1938, march — première of Alexander Glazunov’s ballet Raymonda in a new production by choreographer Vasily Vaynonen. Ulanova dances the title role. In the exercise-book, this event is recorded by one word première, and further on:
May. 26th Fountain Maria. My dancing career is exactly ten years old.
May. 31th Fountain Maria, 10th jubilee performance for me and Vecheslova.
The Fountain of Bakhchisaray, Ulanova — Maria, Vecheslova — Zarema. Galina Ulanova and Tatiana Mikhailovna Vecheslova studied together with Vaganova, joined the Leningrad Theatre of Opera and Ballet in the same year, danced in the same ballets, they were partners in La Esmeralda, The Fountain of Bakhchisaray, Lost Illusions … They were friends all their lives.
1939 — January, another invitation to Moscow, as per following entry in exercise-book:
January 1939. 26th Fountain, Maria. Bolshoi Theatre. Moscow. Gabovich.
Mikhail Markovich Gabovich is soon to become her permanent partner, in the meantime, in February and March she dances several performances of Strait Lake at the Bolshoi Theatre, partnered by Alexei Yermolayev, and then comes this entry:
September. 28th Swan Lake Odi-Ode. Sergeyev. Bolshoi Theatre. Moscow. German.
On September 1, war had broken out in Europe. The Soviet Union is engaged in difficult negotiations with Germany. End September: there is a German delegation in Moscow. The 28 September performance is attended by Joachim Ribbentrop. The following day Ulanova is handed a bunch of flowers from Ribbentrop.
1940, January, 10 — dress rehearsal, 11 — first night of Prokofiev’s ballet Borneo and Juliet.
Leonid Lavrovsky’s production showed the influence of the best of the past…In general, work on Romeo was difficult. We didn’t immediately feel Prokofiev’s music. To begin with, it seemed to us to be undancable, awkward. One even had to count in order not to miss a bar. On top of which there was also the character to demonstrate, and Shakespeare and Prokofiev to study. Prokofiev’s Juliet is romantic, Shakespeare’s is more earthy. I had to find a Juliet which would combine both the one and the other…
After the first night performance, an excited and pleased Prokofiev took endless curtain calls with us …… Prokofiev asked me: «What else would you like to dance, what shall I write for you?» I’d like the Snow Maiden, I said. «Good heavens no, the Snow Maiden! How could I write that?! Rimsky-Korsakov wrote the Snow Maiden! Let me write Cinderella for you …»
Exercise-book entries from 17th to 26th May are grouped together under the words “Decade of Leningrad Festival, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow”:
May 17th Romeo. 19th Laurencia. 21st Romeo
There follow scream other ballet titles up to the 26th and then:
18th Swan Lake Act 1 Television
27th Swan Lake Act 1/ Documentary Newsreel (reception)
29th Concert/ Kremlin/ Liszt/ Volga-Volga (foam shoe – tr.n.)
30th Concert. Liszt. Hall of Volumns and NKVD (For People’s Commissariat of Internal Affairs – Soviet Security service 1934 – 1943 – tr.n.)
Has this, the first television recording of Ulanova dancing been preserved and could it have been, indeed, given the times?
Solomon Mikhailovich Mikhoels. In 1940, during the Decade of Leningrad Theatre ’ Festival, in Moscow, he went to see Romeo and Juliet and, under the impact of Ulanova’s performance, he wrote: “Her Juliet — a non-speaking dance part, without the recital of a single Shakespeare verse — makes an unforgettable impression, the impression of a real Shakespeare character›. Tamara Fyodorovna Makarova, having seen Ulanova in Leningrad in this and other ballets, noted: «Galina Ulanova had a real ‘close-up’ And this is rare in both ballet and cinema, even though the latter art form specializes in close-up. Ulanova’s eyes, face were submerged in profound thought, concealed anxiety…To this day — my heart missing a beat — I remember ‘the close-up’ in the Giselle madness scene, Ulanova’s face, immediately drained of color and looking pinched, as if she were listening to something inaudible, a gaze which was detached and at the same time concentrated inward, a gaze directed not at the world but into the depths of her own soul… Her Juliet is a proud, fearless character and symbol of a tender-hearted, romantic Dream”.
Sergei Mikhailovich Eisenstein, won over by her talent, traced in graphic form the line flow of Ulanova’s dance and came to the conclusion: “Ulanova — cannot be grouped together with, compared to other dancers. In terms of what is most cherished, By the very nature of her secret…She belongs to a different dimension”.
Sergei Prokofiev wrote about Ulanova as follows: “She is the genius of Russian ballet, its elusive soul, its inspired poetry. In classical roles, Ulanova reaches a depth of expression unprecedented in 20th century ballet…”
1941 — March 15. Ulanova makes a penciled note in her exercise-book:
Awarded the first ever Stalin prize 1st degree for outstanding ‹achievements in the field of art (presented for the first time in USSR).
May I2th, La Bayadère, Nikia 1st time.
New role in Ludwig Minkus’s ballet La Bayadère. Ulanova was dissatisfied with the results of her work and soon stopped dancing Nikia. The Theatre is still open. On June 23, at the Yelena Mikhailovna Lukom jubilee, she dances the grand pas and divertissement from Ludwig Minkus’s ballet Paquita.
At the bottom of a page in the exercise-book, she writes:
War with Cermony 22 June.
July. 13th Swan Lake, The Swan. Theatre closes.
She continues to give concert performances in an emptying Moscow, the Kirov Theatre of Opera and Ballet has already been evacuated to Perm.