Ekaterina Vasilevna Geltser

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gel’tser, Ekaterina Vasil’evna


Born Nov. 2 (14), 1876, in Moscow; died there Dec. 12, 1962. Soviet ballerina. In 1925 became the first ballerina to receive the title of People’s Artist of the RSFSR. Daughter of the famous danseur V. F. Gel’tser.

Upon graduating from the Moscow Ballet School in 1894, Ekaterina Gel’tser was accepted into the Bol’shoi Theater’s ballet troupe. From 1896 to 1898 she danced at the Mariinskii Theater in St. Petersburg. Her work was greatly influenced by the choreographer M. I. Petipa, in whose productions she danced leading roles. From 1898 to 1935 she worked at the Bol’shoi Theater and was the leading dancer in the ballets of A. A. Gorskii. Gel’tser was an outstanding representative of the Russian school of classical dance. Her performances combined faultless technique, a good sense of music, expressive dancing, and a deep insight into the stage character she portrayed. Gel’tser’s best role in the prerevolutionary period was Salammbô (Salammbô by Arends, 1910), which affirmed realism and psychological truth in ballet. In 1910 she began touring abroad (she danced in S. P. Diaghilev’s ballet company). In 1927, in Gliere’s The Red Poppy, the first Soviet ballet dedicated to a modern theme, Gel’tser danced the part of the Chinese dancer Tao Khoa. In this role, the principles of classical ballet were expressed in the character of a new social hero. In the 1930’s, Gel’tser toured the Soviet Union, performing in factory clubs and in remote sections of the country. She made her last appearances between 1942 and 1944. Her roles included Lise in Hertel’s La Fille Mal Gardée, Medora in Pugni and Adam’s The Corsair and Odette-Odile in Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. She was also a consultant and teacher. A recipient of the State Prize of the USSR (1943), she was awarded the Order of Lenin and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.


Moskovskii Bol’shoi teatr, 1825-1925. Moscow [1925].
Martynova, O. Ekaterina Gel’tser. Moscow, 1965.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.