Marina Kondratieva was born in Leningrad on 1 February 1934 but studied at the Moscow Choreographic School under Galina Petrova,
at that time a soloist at the Bolshoi Theatre. She graduated in 1952 and was immediately engaged at the Bolshoi passing into the class of perfection under the guidance of
Marina Semyonova, with whom she was to remain for her entire career. Her first major role came within a year when she danced the title role in Zakharov's ballet Cinderella
She also took part in several small roles in the historic tour to Britain by the Bolshoi Ballet in 1956.
As she developed her talents she was sadly rarely included on the major international tours of the Bolshoi ballet, less
frequently than some of her colleagues, but she did enjoy considerable success in London in 1965 in a long
season at the Royal Festival Hall where she danced the Walpurgis Night
scene from Gounod's Faust
the exciting duet Spring Waters
with Maris Liepa which regularly had to be encored. This was indeed
a special partnership. She was also a great favourite in New York where she had first danced in 1959.
The West was not fortunate to be able to enjoy the full artistic range of this artist. In Moscow she was a great
favourite with the audiences and her wide repertoire of full-length ballets embracing all styles gives an indication
of her versatility.
One of her notable successes was as Katerina in The Stone Flower
, which was the first ballet by Yuri
Grigorovich to be staged by the Bolshoi Theatre, premiered on 7 March 1959 with Nikolai Fadeyechev and Maya
Plisetskaya also in the cast. She danced her first Juliet and Giselle during the same season.
Kondratieva moreover danced in a number of contemporary ballets throughout her career, creating the Muse
in 1960 and Magnolia in Chippolino
in 1977. She was
also second cast in the Moscow premiere of Anna Karenina
in 1972 after Plisetskaya
and she scored a major personal triumph in the role. She retired from dancing in 1980.
Kondratieva's technique was complete in the best Russian tradition, concealing a great physical strength
behind a seemingly soft romantic image. She had an exceptionally vibrant jump, powerful, high and swift, but
with superb ballon. She had excellent clear batterie. Her plastique was lyrical, flowing and smooth and her
long extensive singing line was extremely feminine. Here was a dancer of great
emotional maturity on stage triumphing equally in classical and contemporary roles. She was a
consummate actress; her Anna Karenina, completely different from Maya Plisetskaya was original and striking.
Her dance talents were perhaps most comprehensively utilised in the ballets of Yuri
Grigorovich. But I think the most memorable performances were of Giselle
and Romeo & Juliet
with Maris Liepa, which were both superbly danced and highly charged theatrically.
There is little film easily available of her dancing but Russian Television did film a
documentary dedicated to her in 1979, featuring scenes from many of her major roles, partnered
by Liepa, Lavrovsky and others. She also filmed the complete Paganini
Since 1980 she has been a repetiteur and teacher at the Bolshoi theatre and also
taught at the theatrical institute GITIS from 1980-87. Currently, among her pupils in the Bolshoi are Ekaterina Shipulina,
Anastasia Goriacheva, Nina Kaptsova, and Natalia Osipova.
Her repertory includes:
- Katerina, Mistress of the Copper Mountain in The Stone Flower (Grigorovich)
- title role in Cinderella (Zakharov)
- Queen of the Sea in The Little Humpbacked Horse
- Muse in Paganini(Lavrovsky)
- title role in Giselle
- Juliet in Romeo and Juliet (Lavrovsky)
- Magnolia in Chippolino (Maiorov)
- Prelude and 7th Waltz in Chopiniana (Fokine)
- Odette-Odile in Swan Lake
- Aurora in The Sleeping Beauty
- Girl in Spectre de la Rose (Fokine)
- Maria in The Fountain of Bakhchisarai (Zakharov)
- Masha in The Nutcracker (Vainonen)
- title role in Anna Karenina (Plisetskaya)
- Phrygia in Spartacus (Grigorovich)
- Shirin in The Legend of Love (Grigorovich)
- Siumbike in Shuraleh (Jakobson)
Copyright © 2003-2005
- Bacchante in Walpurgis Night (Lavrovsky)
- Gluck Melody
- Spring Waters (Messerer)
- La Sylphide pas de deux
- Gavotte (Vainonen)
- Grand Pas Classique (Gsovsky)
Text of Marina Kondratieva Copyright © 2003-2006 Geoff Whitlock. All rights reserved.