Tamara Karsavina

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Related to Tamara Karsavina: Galina Ulanova
Tamara Karsavina
Tamara Platonovna Karsavina
BirthplaceSt. Petersburg, Russia
Ballet dancer

Karsavina, Tamara Platonovna


Born Feb 25 (Mar. 9), 1885, in St. Petersburg. Russian ballerina. Sister of L. P. Karsavin.

Tamara Karsavina graduated from P. A. Gerdt’s class at the St. Petersburg Theatrical School in 1902. That same year she became a dancer at the Mariinskii Theater (St. Petersburg), where she was prima ballerina from 1912 to 1918. She was M. Fokine’s partner and the principal performer in the ballets he staged. Her roles in these ballets included the title role in Shcher-bachev’s Eunice, Madeleine in N. N. Cherepnin’s Pavilion d’Armide, and Columbine in Le Carnival to music by Schumann. She danced the leading roles in ballets by P. I. Tchaikovsky, A. K. Glazunov, A. Adam, and L. Minkus.

Karsavina’s refined artistry reflected the influence of impressionism on the Russian academic school of dance. Her dancing was characterized by subtle changes of lyrical moods and an accentuated plasticity. Her subtle stylizations in the commedia dell’arte ballets brought her praise (Columbine in Drigo’s Harlequinade). Karsavina danced in the Russian Seasons Abroad between 1909 and 1929 and with Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. She was the first to perform the leading roles in Fokine’s stagings of Stravinsky’s The Firebird and Petrouchka, Rimsky-Korsakov’s Scheherazade, and Ravel’s Daphnis and Chloe. She also danced with V. Nijinsky.

Karsavina left Russia in 1918 and in 1930 appeared with the Ballet Rambert. From 1930 to 1955 she was vice president of the Royal Academy of Dance in London. She is the author of a book on choreography.


Theatre Street. London [1930].
Ballet Technique. New York [1968].


Svetlov, V. “T. P. Karsavina.” Russkii balet. St. Petersburg, 1913, pp. 13–16.
Benois, A. Reminiscences of the Russian Ballet. London, 1941.
Lifar, S. Les Trois Grâces du XX siècle. Paris, 1957.
Sokolova, L. Dancing for Diaghilev. London, 1960.


References in periodicals archive ?
They first resurrected Till in 1994 with the Paris Opera Ballet, and Jeux in 1996 at the Opera Ballet of Verona, with Fracci as the senior woman (a role originally danced by Tamara Karsavina, the Ballets Russes star whom Fracci played in the 1980 Herbert Ross feature film Nijinsky).
Along the way he sketched and painted, first recording the leading dancers of his day, among whom were Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina, Ida Rubinstein, Michel Fokine, Adolf Bolm, and Vaslav Nijinsky, and finally, the brilliant mandalas of theosophic meditation.
Hoppe photographed Tamara Karsavina in 1910 and Margot Fonteyn in 1935.
Anna Pavlova was one of a long line of his ballerinas to acquire the role of Medora (1904), followed in 1908 by Tamara Karsavina.
Yet, I well recall--not long before I encountered Marceau--watching the great Maryinsky ballerina Tamara Karsavina, who was sixty-five years old at the time, give a fantastic lecture-demonstration on ballet mime.
The stellar cast included Vladimir Vasiliev (Nijinsky), Ekaterina Maximova (Romola Nijinsky), and Carla Fracci (Tamara Karsavina).
Other favorites included: Maya Plisetskaya, Fred Astaire, Tamara Karsavina, Gene Kelly, Darci Kistler and Galina Ulanova, Darcey Bussell and Peter Martins, and Angel Corella.
Igor Stravinsky is at the keyboard; Tamara Karsavina, creator of the title role, is at center.
It would have to include, I imagine, Anna Pavlova, Tamara Karsavina, and Olga Spessivtseva, all of whom I have only seen on film--although I did once see Karsavina perform mime scenes from Le Corsaire, among other ballets, and that was a dance lesson in itself.