“Swan Lake” celebrated the anniversary of the famous prima “Stasik” and teacher Margarita Drozdova


The ballet was composed by the largest Soviet choreographer (by the way, a close relative of Tchaikovsky) in 1953 and became famous all over the world. It was this version of Tchaikovsky’s immortal masterpiece that was transferred by Burmeister to the stage of the Paris Opera in 1960, where it did not leave the posters for almost 30 years, until it was replaced by Nureyev’s version. But then, for a long time, she went to La Scala, on the stages of other famous European theaters, and has not lost her significance today.

The fact that two glorious anniversaries coincided is significant. Margarita Drozdova (who is called “Queen Margot” behind her back in the theater) is one of the best performers of Burmeister’s ballet. The couple Margarita Drozdova – Vladimir Kirillov then thundered throughout the Soviet Union, had a large army of fans all over the world, and the hero of the day made a sensation just in the performance with which she was now honored.

It was in 1967, the year she graduated from the school, where Margarita Sergeevna studied with the famous prima of the Bolshoi in the 1930s and 50s, Sulamith Messerer, the adoptive mother of Maya Plisetskaya, one of the best teachers of female dance. At first, the girl did not study very well at the school, but by the time she graduated, she not only became an excellent student, but also, without graduating from college, she was invited (an unusual case!) by the legendary Burmeister himself to dance the part of Odette-Odile twice at the Stanislavsky Musical Theater.

And after the final exams, together with the artistic director of the school, Leonid Lavrovsky, she went on her first tour in her life. The school showed a new composition by Lavrovsky – “Classical Symphony” by Sergei Prokofiev and a concert program, where Margarita Drozdova and the leading dancer of the Stanislavsky Theater Yuri Grigoriev performed the number “Viennese Evening” to the music of Strauss, which Burmeister staged especially for them.

“The famous dancer and choreographer Serge Lifar came to us backstage (then he had already left the post of artistic director of the Paris Opera) and congratulated everyone on the grandiose success. Serge Lifar strongly persuaded me to stay in Paris – he wanted me to become a partner of Rudolf Nureyev, who at that time was looking for a young technical dancer for himself. I categorically refused – I never imagined myself without the Motherland, ”Margarita Sergeevna recalled years later the beginning of her ballet career. At the same time, the Paris Academy of Dance, represented by Serge Lifar, awarded her the Anna Pavlova Prize.

Naturally, the honor of having such a graduate in her troupe, a ballerina with a proud, truly royal posture and the owner of beautiful, wonderful sculpting of legs, was challenged by several theaters at once, including the Bolshoi. The intention to accept her into his newly created team “Young Ballet” (the future theater of Kasatkina and Vasilev) was also voiced by Igor Alexandrovich Moiseev. “Moiseev was not denied anything, so I had to explain myself to the Minister of Culture E.A. Furtseva. But my heart was already given to the Stanislavsky Musical Theater, and I dreamed of working with Vladimir Pavlovich Burmeister.

In 1972 – a new recognition: she won the 2nd prize of the International Ballet Competition in Varna and the All-Union Competition of Ballet Masters and Ballet Dancers in Moscow. A year later, she won a bronze medal at the most famous and most prestigious in the ballet world of the Moscow International Ballet Competition, which takes place every four years at the Bolshoi Theater.

Having become the last muse of the great choreographer Vladimir Burmeister and shining not only in his masterpieces such as Swan Lake and Esmeralda, which are already classics of the 20th century, and in his other works, the individuality of Margarita Drozdova was also revealed in the performances of The Gadfly, Coppelia, Cinderella, Shakuntala, Gayane by Alexei Chichinadze, who became the next director of the Stasika ballet after the death of Burmeister. She also led the performances of Macmillan, danced in “Epiphany” by Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasilev, in “Black Birds” and “Evening Dances” by Tom Schilling, “Jeanne d’Arc” by Konstantin Sergeev.

Critics of those years noted that “she was significant in everything – even her most gentle heroines had a strong-willed disposition and a strong character.” Particularly significant in this sense was the role of the Commissar in The Optimistic Tragedy, a ballet by Dmitry Bryantsev, which she performed in 1985. And a year later, Margarita Sergeevna was awarded the title of People’s Artist of the USSR, becoming the only artist of this rank in the Musical Theater.

After an injury in 1989, she had to leave the stage, and she became a teacher-tutor in the theater, nurturing such wonderful ballerinas as Natalia Ledovskaya, Tatiana Chernobrovkina, Lilia Musavarova, Maria Semenyachenko and many others.

Ivan Mikhalev and Oksana Kardash. Photo by Sergey Rodionov. Provided by the MAMT press service

Margarita Sergeevna came up with the concept of her anniversary performance in such a way that three of her current students appeared in the ballet at once. All three are the brightest prima stars of Stasik. Odette in the first act was danced by Oksana Kardash, Odile in the ball scene was Ksenia Shevtsova, and Odette in the finale was Ksenia Ryzhkova, who returned this season to the theater where she worked since 2013, having been the prima ballerina of the Bavarian Ballet for several years.

Ksenia Shevtsova and Ivan Mikhalev. Photo by Sergey Rodionov. Provided by the MAMT press service

The performance was lively and charming. The jester Innokenty Yuldashev was brilliant. Olga Sizykh, Valeria Mukhanova and their partners Yevgeny Dubrovsky and Yevgeny Zhukov performed well in the Pas de Quatre of the first act. The part of Rothbart that evening was performed by the son of Margarita Sergeevna – Nikita Kirillov, convincingly reincarnated as an evil wizard. And Prince Siegfried of all three ballerinas was Ivan Mikhalev – the best premiere of the theater, who performed his part emotionally and with inspiration. His brilliant flying jumps and swift spins turned out to be especially memorable that evening, and the adagio with Oksana Kardash in the second scene on the lake was poetic and exciting. Oksana Kardash in general in this scene looked like a real Swan Princess, as if descended from Vrubel’s canvas.

Ksenia Ryzhkova. Photo by Sergey Rodionov. Provided by the MAMT press service

All three performers are convincing in the interpretation of their parts, they demonstrated the culture of the dance, the “education” of the feet, the length and melodiousness of the lines. Ksenia Ryzhkova, who performed the same role of Odette, but already in the third act of the ballet, harmoniously combined the best achievements of the Western and Russian schools in her dance. And Ksenia Shevtsova was dazzling in the rays of the infernality of her diabolical Odile. From such energetic and seductive vamp women, who fell under their infernal charm, princes, of course, cannot escape!

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