Olga Spessivtseva – new light on her tragic life

Of all the 20th century ballerinas, the Russian dancer, Olga Spessivtseva intrigues and interests me the most.

She followed in the path of Anna Pavlova, yet she was less well known, despite her superior technique.

I began to research her life a decade ago, and have gradually been piecing together her story, based on manuscripts, correspondence, articles for many specialist publications, and books, as well as a collection of photographs in the State Library of New South Wales, some of which are in the Vintage collection of this website’s galleries.

Two years ago, I read a collection of her correspondence in the library of the Palais Garnier in Paris, including letters written to her when she toured Australia in 1934 as a member of the Dandre-Levitoff company.

Anton Dolin, Dale Fern and others have written of her mental illness that led to her suddenly quitting that tour.

Yet it was only recently that I read her diary entries in a biography published in Russia in 2009 and written by Elena Fedosova, a curator of the St. Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music.

The book is in Russian but the long biographical introduction is in both Russian and English.

This book, titled simply Olga Spessivtseva, was available in London during the recent Diaghilev exhibition at the Victoria & Albert Museum.

The full article is now posted in the Research pages of dancelines.

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