In the same way as Alicia Markova in England, Tatiana Leskova is considered an instrumental figure in the development of classical ballet in Brazil. Leskova, who celebrates her 90th birthday this December, is also one of the few surviving direct links to the Ballets Russes era and well-known for her stagings of ballets by Léonide Massine.
Born in Paris in 1922 to Russian émigrés, Leskova studied with Lubov Egorova and other former Imperial Russian ballerinas. She joined the Ballet de la Jeunesse at the age of sixteen, then Colonel de Basil’s Original Ballet Russe (known as Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo before the split between ballet impresarios Wassily de Basil and René Blum). Whilst touring with the company, she visited South America and settled in Brazil in 1945. In 1950 she joined the Theatro Municipal in Rio where she became principal dancer and later Ballet Mistress and Artistic Director.
As a ballet teacher, she has been involved in coaching such Brazilian dance talent as Márcia Haydée, Roberta Marquez and Deborah Colker among others, while as choreographer she has worked around the globe restaging selected Massine works: Choreartium for Birmingham Royal Ballet (1991) and Dutch National Ballet (2001), and Les Presages for the Paris Opera Ballet, the Joffrey Ballet, Dutch National Ballet, Rio de Janeiro’s Theatro Municipal Ballet and, more recently for the Australian Ballet (2007).
Her biography, Tatiana Leskova: A Ballerina at Large by Suzana Braga, first published in Portuguese, has now been translated into English by Donald E. Scrimgeour and updated with Tatiana’s close involvement, while a second book with historical images of Leskova’s dancing career (Balé Fotográfico – Tatiana Leskova: imagens de uma bailarina solta no mundo) has just been launched in Brazil.
By courtesy of the publisher, Quartet Books, Chapter 1 of Leskova’s biography is available to read online/download (click on image below to download a copy):
TATIANA LESKOVA: A BALLERINA AT LARGE, by Suzana Braga (Quartet Books, 2012) is out December 6 on paperback edition.