Like a Shot from a Bow. Nina Sorokina and Yuri Vladimirov Dancing


Leonid Zhdanov (1927–2010) took this photograph in 1965 at the Bolshoi Theater during a performance of The Rite of Spring danced by the Bolshoi Theater soloists Nina Sorokina (1942–2011) and Yuri Vladimirov (born 1942). The performances at the Bolshoi Theater that year were the first time that this ballet, choreographed by Natalia Kasatkina and Vladimir Vasiliev to Igor Stravinsky's music, was performed in the Soviet Union. Sorokina and Vladimirov, the most remarkable representatives of the Moscow school of dance during the 1960s and 1970s, danced the main roles. They rehearsed at the theater with Marina Semenova and Alexei Yermolaev (both former dancers and important teachers). Their duet in The Rite of Spring stood out for its expressiveness, athleticism, and virtuosity. In 1969, Sorokina and Vladimirov were awarded a prize and a gold medal at the first International Ballet Competition in Moscow. The dancers were seen by critics as perfectly complementing each other. Their repertoire included leading roles in classical and contemporary ballets, such as Don Quixote, The Nutcracker, Spartacus, The Geologists, and Ivan the Terrible. However, contemporaries generally regarded their crowning performance as the Diana and Acteon pas de deux from the ballet Esmeralda (choreographed by Agrippina Vaganova). Zhdanov, a Bolshoi dancer and then a professor of choreography for 50 years, was also a professional ballet photographer for most of his career. His pictures are spontaneous and capture on film the movements, moods, and emotions of the unposed dancers. The Reborn Art Foundation in Moscow holds this image and the rest of the Zhdanov archive.

Last updated: February 3, 2015