Obituary: Vera Krasovskaya

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The Independent Culture
THE RUSSIAN ballet historian and critic Vera Krasovskaya was an outstanding figurehead of Russian and St Petersburg culture. She was a doctor of arts, a professor and academic. To her last days she was head of the department of ballet history at the Vaganova Academy in St Petersburg, where she brought up scores of pupils, many of whom became well-known critics and ballet historians.

Vera Krasovskaya was born in Petrograd in 1915 into the family of the St Petersburg architect Mikhail Krasovskaya, who had designed several buildings in the city. Her grandfather was a senator - a fact the family carefully concealed during the years of the Soviet regime. Her mother, a very well-educated woman, spoke several languages.

Krasovskaya started her career as a dancer. After graduating from Agrippina Vaganova's class at the Leningrad State Choreography School in 1933, she danced in the Kirov corps de ballet at the Mariinsky Theatre (the Kirov Theatre from 1935) for 10 years. She later studied at the Leningrad Theatre Institute, receiving her doctorate in art criticism in 1955.

She wrote her first article, about Alla Shelest, in 1941. Her first book, Vakhtang Chabukiani, a biography of the Soviet ballet master, was published in 1956. Since then her books and articles have appeared one after another with an amazing speed: the four-volume history of Russian ballet (Russian Ballet Theatre from the Beginning to the Middle of the 19th Century, 1958; . . .of the Second Half of the 19th Century, 1963; . . . at the Beginning of the 20th Century: choreographers, 1971; . . . dancers, 1972) was followed by a four-volume publication on the history of Western European ballet (1979-96).

In between she published monographs - Anna Pavlova (1964), Nijinsky (1974, English translation 1979), Natalia Dudinskaya (1982), Nikita Dolgushin (1985), Agrippina Vaganova (1989). Many books were translated into English, Polish, German and Czech. Her bibliography makes up a thick volume: scores of articles in the Russian and foreign press, booklets and introductions to different editions, lots of entries for encyclopaedias and reference books.

She was an avid reader of The Dancing Times, and was pleased that her photograph was published in the June issue of the magazine this year; the picture was taken at the Vaganova Academy at the launch of her last book, Profiles of the Dance.

Vera Krasovskaya was buried at the Komarovo cemetery, the last refuge for many writers, actors, scientists and musicians. Her funeral was attended by an enormous number of people. She is survived by her son, Yuri Krasovskaya, a professor at the St Petersburg Theatre Academy, and David Zolotnitsky, her husband of 40 years, also an academic.

Vera Mikhailovna Krasovskaya, ballet writer: born Petrograd 11 September 1915; twice married (one son, one stepdaughter); died St Petersburg 15 August 1999.