Violetta Elvin, Glamorous Royal Ballet Dancer, Is Dead at 97


Renowned for her strong technique and natural grandeur, she was a star soloist with the Bolshoi Ballet before finding new audiences in London.

Violetta Alvin, who brought remarkable glamor to her Bolshoi training as a young Soviet ballerina and Britain’s Royal Ballet, died on 27 May at her home in Vico Equines on the Sorrento peninsula in southern Italy. She was 97 years old.

Her death was reported by her son and only immediate survivor, Antonio Savaris.

When Ms. Alvin joined the Royal Ballet (then known as the Sadlers’ Wells Ballet) in London in 1945, there was no doubt – as it would no doubt be for the next 20 years – who the troupe’s lead ballerina was: Margot Fontaine.

The company’s founder and artistic director, Ninette de Valois, was intent on making an international star, and her casting policies openly favored Ms Fontaine. Yet a group of budding ballerinas were also visible in the company, and Ms. Alvin stood out among them.

In 2008, she was remembered as a “fantastic and glamorous” dancer in the British magazine Dancing Times.

In Russia, she was the soloist of the Bolshoi Ballet. She moved to London after marrying British writer and artist Harold Alvin.

Alex Bissett, a longtime friend of the Alvins, said in a phone interview that Clement Attlee, a friend of the British Prime Minister and Harold Alvin’s father, “had direct communication with Joseph Stalin” asking Violetta for permission to marry Harold and leave. For him legally with the Soviet Union. permission granted.

Violetta Alvin was born as Vera Vasilyevna Prokhorova on November 3, 1923 in Moscow. His father, Vasily Prokhorov, an inventor, was considered a pioneer of Soviet aviation. His mother, Irina Grimouzinskaya, was an artist and actor.

After graduating from the Bolshoi Ballet School in 1942, Violet joined the Bolshoi Ballet. During World War II she moved with her family to Tashkent, Uzbekistan, where she was invited to dance in the lead roles in the Tashkent Ballet. The Bolshoi Ballet, which had been evacuated to the city of Kuibyshev, then asked him to rejoin the company.

When the troupe returned to Moscow in 1943, she played the ballerina in “Swan Lake” at the Bolshoi Theater. But after reprimanding her for her contacts with foreigners, she was transferred to the Stanislavsky Theater Ballet in Moscow.

Violet had friends who invited her to a reception at the British Embassy in Moscow. It was there that she met Mr. Alvin, who had fled to Moscow when the Germans invaded Norway, where she was on her way. When he sought a job from the British ambassador, he was hired as a night watchman at the embassy.

She married Mr Alvin in 1944 and moved to London, where Ms de Valois invited her to join the Sadler’s Wells Ballet. Although she was extremely popular with audiences, and adapted for performances, she often ventured into roles created for others. He spent only 11 years with the Royal Ballet, after which he made guest appearances with other companies.

He and Mr Alvin divorced in 1952. She retired from performing after marrying Fernando Savares in 1959. An Italian lawyer, he helped manage his family’s hotel in Vico Equines and died in 2007.

Ms. Alvin was remembered for her distinctive qualities. In the title role of the nineteenth-century classic “The Sleeping Beauty”, Ms. Fontaine’s signature piece, she conquered as a young girl, in the words of Mr. Bissett, “a smile that came from within a different enjoyment of dancing.” was. “

Frederick Ashton, the legendary choreographer of the Royal Ballet, created some major roles for Ms. Alvin. But she choreographed the sensual role of Seductive in “Daphnis and Chloe” especially for her, and she used her strong technique and natural grandeur in Neoclassical showpieces that featured four to seven ballerinas at once.

Importantly, he excelled in the “Ballet Imperiale”, one of George Balanchine’s signature ballets, but which was new to the Royal. Its first cast in London had Ms Fontaine as the lead ballerina, but its fast pace and lack of obvious preparation for the moves did not come naturally to her.

Ms. Alvin understood a more elaborate way of dancing at the Bolshoi and, as was the case with Balanchine, a more dynamic way of proceeding with “attack”. After the Russian Revolution, Soviet teachers sought to modernize their ballet technique; In contrast, Ms. de Valois’s company looked to the textbook style of pre-revolutionary Russian ballet.

When the Sadlers’ Wells Ballet moved to the Opera House in Covent Garden in 1946, Ms. Alvin knew how to dominate a big stage, as Alexander Bland in “The Royal Ballet: The First 50 Years” (1981) wrote. But the company had performed on the small stage of the Sadler’s Wells Theater for so long that its dances had traces of “constriction”, as they put it.

In a memoir published in 1957, Ms. de Valois explained why she had hired Ms. Alvin, the first Soviet ballerina to dance with the Royal Ballet. Ms de Valois said she had poured “new blood into the company”.

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