On this day: the Bolshoi Ballet in Amsterdam

Anefo_911-3243_Aankomst_solisten9 June 1960 Bolshoi Ballet in Amsterdam 9th June 1960 USSR Soviet Union Vintage

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Anefo_911-3243_Aankomst_solisten9 June 1960 Bolshoi Ballet in Amsterdam 9th June 1960 USSR Soviet Union Vintage.

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These images were taken in Amsterdam on the 9th of June, 1960. The Bolshoi Ballet arrives in the Netherlands for an international tour.

The Soviets believed nobody could surpass them in the arts, however dancers of the Bolshoi (Moscow) and Kirov (Saint Petersburg) companies were not always allowed to leave the USSR. Some dancers defected, while others were considered unsuitable, such as superstar Maya Plisetskaya, a Lithuanian Jew whose family faced heavy persecution in Russia.

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On this day…

Wakefield Kirkgate railway station in West Yorkshire, England, photographed on the 29th of July, 1966.

Much of the original Victorian structure was removed in the 1970s, before it could be listed as a building of Historic Interest.

EPSON scanner image

The most successful woman in Olympic history.

Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. The most successful woman in Olympic history. Eighteen medals Eighteen events.

Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. After her father was killed in the Battle of Stalingrad she was raised by her illiterate mother.

Originally a ballet dancer, after switching to gymnastics she went on to compete at the 1956, 1960 and 1964 Olympic Games.

Larisa_Latynina-croppedUkrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. The most successful woman in Olympic history. Eighteen medals Eighteen events.

Winning a medal in every event available to female gymnasts at all three Games, she became the most successful woman in Olympic history with eighteen medals, including nine gold.

She is one of only a handful of gymnasts who returned to the sport after having a child. At the time she kept her pregnancy a secret from coaches and Soviet officials.

Ukrainian gymnast Larisa Latynina was born in Kherson in December, 1934. black and white

Until US swimmer Michael Phelps recently overtook her, she was also the most successful Olympic athlete of any gender.

On this day: La fille mal gardée Premieres

 Virginia Zucchi as Lise in Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov's revival of La Fille mal gardée, St. Petersburg, 1885.

Virginia Zucchi as Lise in Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov’s revival of La fille mal gardée. St. Petersburg, 1885.

La fille mal gardée (The Poorly Guarded Girl is the literal translation) premiered at the Grand Théâtre de Bordeaux on the 1st of July, 1789. Back then it was performed under the name Le ballet de la paille, ou Il n’est qu’un pas du mal au bien (The Ballet of Straw, or There is Only One Step from Bad to Good) – quite a title for a ballet!

Having being involved in ballet from a very early age, I’m having trouble picturing the ballet as it would have been in the 18th century compared to the ballet it is today…

 Nadia Nerina as Lise and David Blair as Colas in the Pas de ruban from the premiere of Frederick Ashton's version of La Fille mal gardée. London, 1960.

Nadia Nerina and David Blair premiere Frederick Ashton’s version of La Fille mal gardée. London, 1960.

The most famous version being performed today is Frederick Ashton’s. I’ve seen that version in a number of countries, including a couple of times at the Palais Garnier in Paris. It’s a comic ballet that involves lots of good dancing as well as quite a lot of cutesy twee. A few low-ranked dancers have the misfortune of having to perform in chicken costumes, and there’s even a real-life pony pulling a cart. In one of the performances I saw in France the horse and cart and passengers all got tangled up in the backdrop. There was some emergency improvised choreography to fix it!