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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars star on stage and in life - Mathilde Kschessinska
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...
Published on 28 Feb 2010 by Amelrode

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mildly interesting biography
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...
Published on 18 Sep 2007 by Mhr


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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 (Vilvoorde) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Imperial Dancer (Paperback)
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. I read on a on one of the royalty websites that having read the way Mathilde behaved during the pre-revolution time one is longing for the revolution. There is an element of truth in this: she lived in great splendour on the Grand Dukes's purses and there is no reflextion on her part on the state of the Russian Empire, the huge injustices of Impreial Russia. She is an excellent power broker, very determined to rule "her theatre". Yes, she is egocentric... as most artist are! Maybe this is not particuarly nice, but I admire her for being such a briliant politician of theatre politics. I admire her as well for her spirit after the revolution. She goes on, she does not shine from work. Compared to her husband she is a person for the real life. I believe - whatever one is thinking of her - she would have been one of those few person, if one had the opportunity to meet her, one would never forget.

Coryne Hall' s biography brinmgs out most of this. But she drowns a bit too much in details which - after a while - do not add new information on the personality of Mathilde. It is a bit like with her previous biography on The Empress Marie Feodorovna
(Little Mother of Russia). She never really gives you how she views her personality. I found it really strange that inspite of all these information, there is still soemthing missing. But still a very readable book.

For all who are interested in the pre-revolution period in Russia a book one needs to read.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A mildly interesting biography, 18 Sep 2007
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This review is from: Imperial Dancer (Paperback)
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. Petersburg will realise!

The most interesting part is a chapter about her escape from the Revolution of 1917 when she lost everything that she had accumulated. Later chapters deal with her life as a teacher in Paris and hardship she endured.

If you are interested in this colourful personality and some members of the Romanovs towards the end of the Imperial Russia, the book will prove rewarding. But, if you want to know about Kschessinska's artistic career as a prima ballerina, you will have to look for some historical sources elsewhere.
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Imperial Dancer by Coryne Hall (Paperback - 20 July 2006)
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