Natalia Bessmertnova was born in Moscow 1941. Graduated from Moscow Choreographic School 1962 in the class of Sofia Golovkina. Her fragile waif-like beauty and inner mystery reminds that of Olga Spessivtzeva's. Just like Spessivtzeva she made the perfect Giselle. Coached by Marina Semyonova in the first Bolshoi years. Married to Yuri Grigorovich. Bessmertnova died in Moscow on 19 February 2008.
Repertoire includes: Giselle (Giselle), The Sleeping Beauty (Aurora), Swan Lake (Odette-Odile), Raymonda (Raymonda), Don Quixote (Kitri), Romeo and Juliet (Juliet), Chopiniana, The Legend of Love (Shyrin), Spartacus (Phrygia), Ivan the Terrible (Tsarina Anastasia).
Gold Medal in Varna 1965
People's Artist of the USSR
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What people says about Natalia Bessmertnova:
"Bessmertnova's art has absorbed Spessivtzeva's romanticism, Pavlova's musical expressiveness, the broad dancing of Semenova and Ulanova's lyricism. It has developed at the junction of different traditions but in the mainstream of a school of dance common to all of them. It has accumulated the experience of different generations and has been influenced by the distinctive Moscow school of dance, prone to heroic exaltation with a vivid dramatic element. Bessmertnova's art is the culmination of the twentieth century, and can be traced back to the romantic ballets of Taglioni and Grisi. Her danding stands out in salient relief, even against the background of her celebrated predecessors, for its individuality and originality, consonant with the public sentiments and moods of the time."
Alexander Demidov, in his book Natalia Bessmertnova - A Bolshoi Ballerina, 1986
"Bessmertnova's stage image, especially in Romantic arabesques or jetés, strikingly recalls Olga Spessivtzeva's: the same 'Persian' face and suffering dark eyes, smiling, if at all, with a hint of tears. Her ideally longlined body seems frail; her strong yet slender and unmuscular legs, well-developed ankles, and marvelously shaped feet with moderately etched insteps afford her both soaring jumps and sharp, dynamic turns. But Bessmertnova's most amazing characteristic is her thin arms, long out of all proportion. They soar upward and bend at the wrists like long stems that have broken at place where they bear the flower, imparting a nuance of vulnerability and feminine submissivness to her dancing."
"Two qualities rarely found together are combined in her dancing: ligthness and a legato flow of movements. During the 1960s her technique surpassed that of Natalia Makarova, her Leningrad rival, although like Olga Spessivtzeva's her style was remarkably aloof and dreamly detached, as if she were engaged in an invisible interior struggle. Her appeal stemmed precisely from her seemingly 'doomed' fraily, yet her plasticity differed from Spessivtzeva's in its erotically tinged Orientalism, its sensual langour, subdued and enticing. This quality somehow softened her aloofness and singled her out as a most seductive and appealing ballerina among her tempestuous Russian colleagues."
Gennady Smakov, in his book Great Russian Dancers, 1984
"The beauty of Natalia Bessmertnova's plasticity of line and musicality combined with her poise and serenity give her great distinction. This supreme artist brings to her many roles the elegance of the Bolshoi Ballet's classical style in its most excalted traditions."
Alexander Grant, The Royal Ballet
"Natalia Bessmertnova is an outstanding ballerina with the greatest talent a dancer can have. Technique, grace, musicality, beautiful lines and a warm, lovely personality. Her performances are already a legend in the world. A great leading star of the Bolshoi Ballet."
Gunilla Roempke, Royal Swedish Ballet
"Natalia Bessmertnova brings her special sensitivity to her dancing and we have all been enriched for it. Her romantic, lyrical Giselle and her spitfire Kitri in Don Quixote have illuminated the roles and shown us her true range as an artist. She and the Yuri Grigorovich choreography have been a perfect match, delighting audiences around the world."
Robert Joffrey, The Joffrey Ballet
"On the first night of the season it was obvious that among the three leading swans in Swan Lake there was a performer of unique quality, and througout the season our eyes have been drawn to the slender Natalia Bessmertnova by virtue of her extraordinary grace. I have never before felt so surerly that I was watching greatness in a dancer; Miss Bessmertnova has a magical quality that singles her out from every other performer, a mixture of intensity of feeling and effortless projection of dance ideas. Dark-haired, huge-eyed, with long limbs and a supple torso, she is a perfect dance instrument . . . She is obviously born to dance Giselle and to assume the great classic roles and revivify them with her magnificent gifts."
Clement Crisp of the Financial Times on Bolshoi's visit to Covent Garden in 1963
"Natalia Bessmertnova is one of those highly gifted people with whom working in the arts is a simply incomparable pleasure. Even when she was still very young, a student a the Ballet School in the class of Sofia Golovkina, she attracted our attention with the unusual delicacy of her dancing, her inspired sense of motion and the glow that emanated from each of her movements."
Leonid Lavrosky 1963
" . . . she has an inner, spiritual strength that can cut her off from all that is venal, shallow and mean and bring to her the tragic intensity of life that she expresses on the stage. She is already capable of dancing as she herself wants to, as her feelings dictate. This means that this delicate and ingenuous girl is already a fully-fledged individual. Bessmertnova has her own unique way of moving and her own inner world."
Boris Lvov-Anokhin 1963