“The legend has come to life.”
The ballet of the Bolshoi Theatre “Romeo and Juliet” is a unique, stunning theatrical event, full of greatness, splendour, colourfulness and human experience. On stage is the legendary Ulanova, one of the great ballerinas in the world. She is all lightness, grace and feeling. We are used to dancers who only dance with their feet. Russians dance with their whole body, their arms, their backs… even their faces. Oh, those faces! They are understandable to everyone, they express all the emotions of human experience. This is a real Russian ballet, which we’ve been waiting for so long, so long.
“Ulanova is a charmer.”
Happy ballet dancers who saw the opening of the Bolshoi Theatre season, loudly welcomed the appearance of Galina Ulanova as Juliet. Nothing better illuminates the beauty of her art as “in” the wedding scene. They are unforgettable!
Daily Mail, 13.10.56
Last night the Bolshoi Theatre staged “Gisell”. It was one of the rare occasions when a brilliant ballerina, led by an excellent troupe gave with great taste and imagination this classic work.
I don’t recall a performance equal to it, and I have no words to describe one of my greatest theatrical experiences. Ulanova has crossed the barriers of ballet technique. She created the image of Gisell; she turned the old play into a drama about life and death.
She’s all about youth, fun and love.
Can there be anything more touching than her, as Gautier calls it, “noble madness”? It comes from the deepest depths of an artist who is perfectly identical with “Gisell.
There is something unearthly about her and, when Gisell dies, she is not a fixed body of an artist, but a dead weight of a lifeless body.
In the next act, she is a pure spirit, invisible, invisible, wimpy and transparent, like a light brush stroke Corot.
Seeing such an artist, the critic has no words and even applause breaks sharply into the mystery of great art.
It was the evening of the one David Webster said: “The miracle is her name Ulanova.”
Sunday Times, 7.10.56
Gisell is not only an old ballet, but is also performed in every country where there is a ballet theatre. Therefore there is no need to compare performances and accents, the choreography is more or less constant, although it has been revised several times during the 115 years of its existence. It was the background to the incomparable Gisell performed by Ulanova. The first time in the pas de deux in the second act was a revelation. It is possible to talk about her virtuosity in this ballet because, thanks to her full technique, she achieves incredible lightness of movement. The smoothness on stage and in the air is full of music and gives space to smaller dramatic movements like those of the fingers and neck at the moment when Gisell loses his mind.
Daily Telegraph, 04.10.56
“Historical Premiere of Russian Ballet”
The Bolshoi Ballet received a grand ovation after the first performance of Romeo and Juliet with Galina Ulanova led by 150 Russian dancers. It was a historic and important event. For the first time in 200 years, the Bolshoi Ballet has danced abroad.
The audience enthusiastically summoned Ulanova to a stage full of flowers long after the last curtain.
Mr Chulaki in his speech expressed his deep gratitude for the warm welcome and hope that the exchange of the Bolshoi Ballet and Sadler Wells will have a great impact on the Anglo-Soviet cultural relations.
Daily Mail, 04.10.56
“Miracle” – Ulanova gains London.
On the stage of Covent Garden, among flowers Galina Ulanova “with the most beautiful legs in the world”, touched to tears, thanked for the 10-minute ovation. It was after the first performance of the London season “Romeo and Juliet”.
The administrator of Covent Garden Mr. Webster for the first time left the tradition of the theatre and gave a speech in which he spoke about the “miracle” – Ulanova. The audience enthusiastically and endlessly called the actors.
“We have never seen such a ballet,” said Margot Fonteyn. “It was wonderful. I have no words about Ulanova – she is great.
After the performance Anthony Eden with his wife behind the scenes congratulated Ulanova and he said “good night” to her in Russian.
Daily Telegraph, 13.10.56
“Ulanova is the incomparable Gisell.”
The ballet “Gisell”, staged by the Bolshoi Theatre last night, was an achievement of perfection; to be more precise, Ulanova in the title role was absolutely incredible.
I and 2,000 spectators must admit that we were present at a particularly significant event. Ulanova’s perfection, as ballerinas – actresses, is absolutely incomparable. This means that she cannot be the measure of the standard applied to other dancers. She is the standard, she is an absolute tragic image, full of deep emotions.
In my memory, the London theatres have never seen anything like it.
Financial Times, 04.10.56
No exaggerations about Ulanova’s art sufficiently prepare us for the impression she makes in the theatre. We need to see her to get an idea of how great the art of ballet is. She is noble and complete, all her movements are impeccable and expressive. Her Juliet from the beginning is a poem of lyrical beauty. She dances thoughtfully, charmingly and devotedly.
News Chronicle, 04.10.56
Ulanova’s charming power grew throughout the evening and at the end of it captured us all.
Manchester Guardian, 05.10.56
Ulanova was wonderful. A rare example of a tragedy told by the mute language of ballet.
Daily Mirror, 04.10.56
The “Old” ballet and theater see Ulanova, but she shines high above them.
The red velvet curtain of Covent Garden rose yesterday for the first performance of the Grand Ballet. And many, many times, after each act of “Romeo and Juliet” he rose and fell to the ovation of 2000 guests, honoring the Russian ballet. But the main event of this evening was Ulanova. Prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet.
She was dancing Juliette to music that sounded like the wind of the steppes. The rapturous endless challenges ended the first act. After 3.5 hours, surrounded by bouquets of flowers, she smiled; she triumphed. Moscow sent its soul and body to London: the Bolshoi Ballet!
New Chronicle, 04.10.56
The curtain of Covent Garden rose above the mysterious, golden legend of the Grand Ballet. In the pale light of the moon we see Romeo, Lorenzo’s father and a quiet modest figure in a thin, like a spider web, the legendary Galina Ulanova as Juliet. The light falls and the ballet begins.
Ulanova reaches perfection in adagio. Highly, in the arms of her partner, she is a stupid spirit of lyrical poetry. She expresses sadness, ecstasy, lust and naga. The silent calm of the nun turns into a wave of nervous passion. Her arabesque is amazingly beautiful, her hands raised in flight full of poetry. Unforgettable – the richness of the production, cheerfulness and deeply thought-out beauty of dancing Ulanova and her partner Zhdanov.
Manchester Guardian, 13.10.56
We are used to good and even excellent performances of the role of Gisell, but none of them can be compared to Ulanova, who last night proved once again that she is the brightest of all the classical dancers. In our memory, no one was able to create such a complete image of a gentle and loving girl.
Daily Mail, 04.10.56
There’s no doubt the Big Ballet is unremarkable. The stage, a quarter less than Moscow, is full of events: procession, street vendors, orchestras. The production reaches its zenith in mass scenes where everyone retains their own individuality. They believe in what they do, and this belief is instilled in the viewer as well. Ulanova, like Pavlova before her, brings a deep emotion into her role. She has everything: amazing technique, which is expressed in lightness without tension in dancing, subtle understanding and outstanding sensitivity. She is not only a ballerina, the dominant scene – she is Juliet, in whose fate we are deeply involved.
Daily Telegraph, 04.10.56
“The Greatness of Ulanova.”
The Grand Theatre chose Romeo and Juliet as their first gift to London. Ulanova as Juliet proved to be a ballerina. She has convinced us that she is without doubt one of the great dancers of our day. Despite the years she has mastered the art of creating an absolute theatrical illusion. She is Juliette, not an actress in the role of Juliette. She turns a simple choreography into a touching theatrical event.
The Sunday Times, 07.10.56
What an unforgettable evening! An event that awakens distant memories. I don’t know whether to capture it for those present or to describe it – for those absent. I will try to do both, and at the same time explain what Russian ballet has been for us for generations and longer.
I can only remember two or three cases of such tension in the theatre. The waiting was so intense that in the beginning the overcrowded hall was supposedly shy of applause. One of the pleasures of the evening was not hysterical, but deliberate applause. Let’s hope that this will be repeated in future performances, because despite all the wonders of the Bolshoi Theatre there is no reason to lose your head. The curtain rises after the prologue, modeled on the Victorian tableau vivant. But how soon the Russian accent breaks through in the dances of the ensemble! This is especially noticeable against the background of the old-fashioned and carefully considered panorama of Verona in the days of Montague and Capulets.
The braggart and daredevil heads of medieval Italy are vividly conveyed in Prokofiev’s witty and easily embittered music and in the senseless rattling of the sabre.
All this precedes the appearance of Madame Ulanova – Juliette. After that, all actions become fresh and say nothing. She has met all expectations, as a great and complete actress, with some limitations that make her even more interesting as an artist.
In her first scene, where she and her nanny play hide-and-seek, her magical and poetic aura of indescription and innocence finds echo in our minds and hearts. Since Pavlova, nothing has been seen equal to her lightness, airiness and grace.
I think that this is an honest criticism. As a dancer, Madame Ulanova has a technique full of real art. But she’s not always touching. We must not forget, alas! that we do not see her in her prime.
As a dancer and actress she is full of such delicate subtlety that it is difficult to believe that a large mass will fully appreciate her art.
There is no word about the wonderful performance of the orchestra difficult and unfamiliar music Prokofiev, which, especially in the famous gavotte from “Classical Symphony” gave endless pleasure.
The evening, thanks to the wonderful work of electrical engineers and stage hands, went without a hitch.
I was not fascinated by the production; despite its novelty, it could date back to 1870. In productions and costumes, the Russian public seems to be expecting “tea, as its Russian mothers do”. They do not want anything modern and new.
I am sure that our ballet in Moscow will be as successful as the Russians at Covent Garden. The immortal Pavlova predicted that the day of great English dancers would come. I am very proud that before her performance on the London stage she danced at my uncle’s house in St. Dunotan’s in Regent’s Park. Her predictions came true. We can learn a lot from the Grand Ballet, but they can learn from us too
It’s been many years since we first saw Russian dancers. It’s good that an artist like Ulanova is now at Covent Garden. The applause with which she was greeted undoubtedly showed her how appreciated she was.
Apart from the lightness and airy grace of Ulanova and some male dancers with the bodies of port loaders, she especially liked Prokofiev’s music, which she would have liked to stage with choreography by Frederick Ashton.
English dancers Margot Fontaine and others, English choreography… Maybe we can give Moscow as much as they gave us!