The Ballerina Gallery
Olga Preobrajenska
1871 - 1962
Mariinsky Ballet


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Olga Preobrajenska (Preobrazhenskaya) was born in St Petersburg in 1871. She studied at the Imperial Ballet School from 1879. Her teachers included Petipa, Ivanov and Anna Johansson, and later Cecchetti and Beretta. She graduated in 1889 to join the Mariinsky Theatre. She was promoted to soloist in 1896 and to prima ballerina in 1900. Danced all the leading roles at the Mariinsky. Her best roles were in Coppelia, Raymonda, Sleeping Beauty, La Fille mal gardée and Don Quixote. She created roles in Bluebeard (Petipa 1896), Harlequinade (Petipa 1900), Le Saisons (Petipa 1900), Sylvia (Ivanov and Gerdt 1901), The Fairy Doll (N. and S. Legat 1903), The Night of Terpsichore (Fokine 1908) and Chopiniana (Fokine, second version 1908). In 1895 she began to make guest appearances in Paris, London and America among others. She was short and stocky but very charming on stage and admired for her strong, precise technique. In 1914 she began teaching in St Petersburg, where her pupils included Danilova and Vaganova. In 1921 she left the Soviet Union to teach in Milan, London, Buenos Aires and Berlin, before finally settling in Paris in 1923. For 40 years she was one of the most famous teachers in Paris. Her students, in her studio at the Salle Wacker, included Baronova, Toumanova and Youskevitch. She retired in 1960.