imperial-russia: Ballerina Matylda Krzesińska …


Ballerina Matylda Krzesińska

“Mlle M. Kschessinska,” reported the magazine Artist in December [1892], “is talented, young and nice-looking, and completely in command of all the reserves of choreographic means of the Italian dancer.” Mathilde owed her mastery of the Italian technique to Cecchetti and to acknowledge this she kissed him on stage in front of the audience. During an interview for Petersburg Life Mathilde paid tribute both to Cecchetti´s teaching and the example of Carlotta Brianza. Kalkabrino, Mathilde said, was the first complete ballet she had learnt and there were only four big rehearsals. Cecchetti told the newspaper about her great talent and desire to work hard.

Mathilde was “a terre-a-terre dancer”, but this lack of elevation was compensated for by the speed of her movements and a dazzling smile. Contemporaries agree that she had powerful, muscular legs (not the graceful legs of the refinement of the later ballerina Anna Pavlova), a sturdy frame and a meticulous ballet technique. The critics were impressed by the maturity of her performance but it was her coquetry, piquancy and charm which explained the secret of her stage success. Audiences found her fascinating. “She was a marvellous dancer – very light, very fast on her toes,” recalled Alexander Danilova, who knew Mathilde in later years. “She had complete command of the stage and a certain diamantine brilliance which she sold to the audience.” Felia Doubrovska said “she had a bad figure and bad legs, was never on full pointe, but was still an extraordinary and wonderful dancer.

Coryne Hall: The Imperial Dancer