Troubador A Life Well Danced: Maria Zybina’s Russian Heritage Her Legacy of Russian Classical Ballet and Chara

Released: 28/08/2022

ISBN: 9781803134826

Format: Paperback

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A Life Well Danced: Maria Zybina’s Russian Heritage Her Legacy of Russian Classical Ballet and Chara


This book explores the relationships between dancers and their teachers, and classical ballet pedagogy through the life of Maria Zybina. It was inspired by the author’s direct connection through Zybina and her teachers, Nicolai Legat in London, Evgenia Eduardova in Berlin and Elena Poliakova in Belgrade, to the flowering of Russian classical ballet in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries when Marius Petipa was choreographing works such as Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.

Born in Moscow, Zybina and her family fled to Europe at the time of the Russian Revolution. Her first marriage, at the age of 18, to an English diplomat took her to Belgrade, and a career as a dancer and ballet mistress in Yugoslavia. Her close friendship and working relationship with Croatian ballerina, Ana Roje, resulted in them both studying with Legat in London in the 1930s.

The Second World War saw Zybina still in Yugoslavia with her second husband when they and a number of close friends worked in intelligence on behalf of the Allies. A strange twist of events, brought them to England where Zybina established her ballet school outside London and became an examiner for the Federation of Russian Classical Ballet and the Society of Russian Style Ballet Schools. Zybina’s life-long interest in character dance was fostered in Belgrade, as well as by Legat, and she became a noted teacher of character both at her school and at other studios.

An interview with Zybina provides the framework for material in memoirs and first-hand accounts which include those written by Legat, Tamara Karsavina and Bronislava Nijinska. These are drawn upon for their lively descriptions of the Imperial Theatre School and the Mariinsky ballet company in St. Petersburg.

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