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Imperial Dancer [Kindle Edition]

Coryne Hall
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

The vivacious Mathilde Kschessinska (1872-1971) was the mistress of three Russian Grand Dukes and the greatest ballerina of her generation. As a young girl, she had enjoyed romantic troika rides, and passionate nights, with the future Tsar Nicholas II. When their relationship ended Mathilde began simultaneous affairs with Nicholas's cousin, Grand Duke Sergei and Grand Duke Andrei Vladimirovich. When her son was born in 1902 nobody knew for certain the identity of the father - except that he was undoubtedly a Romanov. In ballet, she partnered the great Vaslav Nijinsky, became a force to be reckoned with in the Imperial Theatre and, later in life, taught Margot Fonteyn. Mathilde Kschessinska is mentioned in almost every book about the Romanovs but so many myths surround her that she has become the stuff of legend. It is said a hoard of Romanov treasure lies buried under her house in St Petersburg and that a secret passage connected her home to the Winter Palace. Even her own memoirs, published in the 1960s, are as much fantasy as reality. The real story, which this book will reveal, lies in what Mathilde did not say.

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About the Author

Coryne Hall was trained in classical ballet and is a regular contributor to Royalty Digest and European Royal History Journal. She is the author, with John Van der Kiste, of Once A Grand Duchess: Xenia, Nicholas II's Sister (Sutton, 2002), and of Little Mother of Russia: A Biography of Empress Maria Feodorovna.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 823 KB
  • Print Length: 320 pages
  • Publisher: The History Press; New edition edition (30 May 2012)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B008EM8ESG
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #678,947 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Coryne Hall is an historian, broadcaster and consultant specialising in the Romanovs and British and European royalty. She was born in Ealing, West London and developed a fascination for Imperial Russia in childhood when she learnt that her great-grandmother was born in St Petersburg, an almost exact contemporary of Nicholas II. The author of six books, she is a regular contributor to Majesty magazine, The European Royal History Journal, Royal Russia and Royalty Digest Quarterly. She acted as consultant on the Danish television documentaries "A Royal Family" and "The Royal Jewels." Her media appearances include Woman's Hour, BBC South Today, the documentary "Russia's Lost Princesses", live coverage of Charles and Camilla's wedding for Canadian television and co-hosting live coverage of Prince William's wedding alongside John Moore for Newstalk 1010, Canada. She was also the last person to have a private audience with Queen Elizabeth The Queen Mother. She lives in Hampshire.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars star on stage and in life - Mathilde Kschessinska 28 Feb. 2010
By Amelrode VINE VOICE
Mathilde Kschessinska's life was inextricably linked with that of the Romanovs and this ensures her lasting fame.

However, she was first of all a ballerina as the title of "Imperial Dancer" already suggests. She was a prima ballerina absoluta and reached the absolute hights of her profession. She was not only an excellent dancer but as well good in the "theater politics" ensuring lasting success and influence. And here her Imperial connections come into play.

Mathilde became the mistress of the future Nicolas II. before he married Alexandra. The Czar always protected her and Mathilde did not hesitated to asked him for that or the other favor. After their break-up she become the mistress of Grand Duke Sergei and then of the Grand Duke Andrei. They had a menage a trois and it never become clear who fathered Mathilde's only son Vovo. She lived in absolute splendour - she could call a palace her own, jewels, richesses... a fairy tale life. All this came to an end with the revolution. But Mathilde was a born survivor. After the revolution she married Andrei and was created a princess. She was the strong part in the relationship ensuring financial survival through her dancing school. She outlived her husband and died in her 99 year.

Coryne Hall tries to unveil the truth about Mathilde Kschessinska. Before only Mathilde's memoires "Dancing in St. Peterburg" were shedding some light on her life, but of course her memoires are no objective account of her life. One can hardly expect this. Therefore Corny Hall's biography is very much to be applauded. Mrs. Hall provides the readers with a lot of details about Mathilde, her background, her friendships, her work and her relationships.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mildly interesting biography 18 Sept. 2007
By Mhr
This is a mildly interesting biography of Mathilde Kschessinska (who was Polish by race); she was intimately connected with the Russia's Imperial family at the end of the nineteenth century and the beginning of the twentieth century. The authour's focus is, as the title suggests, her intimate relationship with a few members of the Romanovs - first, with Tsarevich Nicholas (later Tsar Nicholas II) and two Grand Dukes, both related to the tsar.

Anyone who is interested in Kschessinska as a prima ballerina assoluta may well be disappointed as there are only superficial commentaries on her performances at the Imperial (Mariinsky) Theatre. There is not much description of her artistic pursuit, whereas the author's main interest is obviouly the dancer's amorous relationship.

The authour's portrayal of Kschessinska is sympathetic. However, readers will get an impression that the dancer was a scheming person, who was solely interested in her pursuit of power, influence and wealth rather than her artistic achievement as she used her connection with the Imperial family as a means of her self-promotion.

There are a lot of detailed descriptions of lavish parties with the Imperial family that she attended and expensive houses and jewellery that she was given. In the end, they become a little too tedious to read.

The author mentions a tunnel made underneath the river Neva, connecting the Winter Palace and Kschessinska's large house, later commandeered by the Bolsheviks in 1917 during the Revolution and became their headquarters. (It is in current Petrogradskaya on the northern bank of Neva.) This is a nonsense because making a tunnel under the wide river was surely an impossibility at the beginning of the 20th century as anyone who visited St.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 31 Jan. 2015
By Andrews
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Excellent book on the lives and events of certain russians in the 19t/20thC.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
1.0 out of 5 stars Not Good on Kschessinskaya's early life 11 Mar. 2012
By MrLopez2681 - Published on
This is a book filled with no primary sources concerning Kschessinskaya's career, and nothing but an over-blown expansion of Kschessinskaya's own memoirs, "Dancing In St. Petersburg". However her life post-Russia is the only reason to obtain this book.

If anyone is turning to this book for an authority on Kschessinskaya's early life, go elsewhere - The passages that were the worst concerned Kschessinskaya's career in Russia, and Coryne Hall's spreading of the usual misconceptions as facts. One in particular is the idea that somehow Kschessinskaya was named "Prima ballerina assoluta" in 1896, something which is only claimed by Kschessinskaya herself and found no where else (except in those sources which also use Kschessinskaya's memoirs for their own source). Hall merely repeats that Kschessinskaya was so named, but under what circumstances? By whom? Certainly not by Petipa, for if Hall had accessed primary sources she would have found that Petipa loathed Kschessinskaya and her obsession to de-throne her great rival, Pierina Legnani, who the sources show was certainly the greater ballerina. Hall would have also found how Kschessinskaya used her affairs with royal Dukes to hog top billing on posters and to get a hold of retired ballets. The worst was how she usurped Legnani's repertoire (and even variations) once the Italian ballerina left Russia in 1901. For historians, dancers and balletomanes interested in Kschessinskaya's early career, this book is NOT recommended.

When it comes to Kschessnskaya's later life (i.e. post revolution), the book is actually excellent, and I really have no criticisms (this was obviously the part Hall was forced to research herself). But where does one go to find an authority on Kschessinskaya in her pre-revolution days of glory? Sadly, one doesn't exist. I cannot forgive Hall for wasting this opportunity. The book is no good in that regard.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent 1 Aug. 2013
By Jayinoz - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A great insight into Mathilde Kschessinskas status as a ballerina and extravagant lifestyle. From a person with everything then suddenly left with nothing she decided to enjoy her life regardless of circumstances with dignity.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 13 Oct. 2014
By Amber Slemmer - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Only the serious dancer/ballet fanatic/balletomane would appreciate the exhaustive details of this book. I thought it was fabulous!!
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