2 3 Throwback Thursday and Avdotia Ilyinichna Istomina | Ballet Webb

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Throwback Thursday and Avdotia Ilyinichna Istomina

Throwback Thursday and Avdotia Ilyinichna Istomina 

An obscure ballerina in dance history is the Russian ballerina Avdotia Ilyinichna Istomina . She was born on January 6, 1799 and became one of the most famous dancers of the 1800s. But she is all but unknown today.

She studied ballet under Charles Didelot, and first appeared onstage at age nine. She made her debut in the Imperial Russian Ballet in 1815. One source http://www.wild-mistress.ru/wm/wm.nsf/publicall/2011-05-17-1721391.html  says she was the first to perform on pointe. She apparently inspired an almost obsessive love in her famous and wealthy followers, and it is said men were killed dueling over her. According to https://www.clydefitchreport.com/2014/03/ballet-history-cray-cray/ : “… Alexander Pushkin was so infatuated with the Russian ballerina Avdotia Istomina that he wrote her into Eugene Onegin and doodled pictures of her impossibly tapered feet amidst flying swans.”

She was in the Imperial Ballet for twenty years, but then the political climate changed, and she danced less and less, gradually fading from dancing into acting and finally disappearing from the public eye altogether. She danced for the last time on January 30, 1836.

She died of cholera on June 26, 1848, and her tombstone reads:"Avdotya Ilyinichna Ekunina, a retired artist."

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets
Ballet Secret #310:
Avdotia Ilyinichna Istomina is little known early Russian ballerina.”

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