Tamara Platonovna Karsavina

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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