Natalia Makarova’s Tribute to Nikita Dolgushin

July 2, 2012

“Nikita Dolgushin and I were unexpectedly given the adagio from the second act of Giselle to dance together at our graduation from the Vaganova School. Nikita was long-legged, sensitive with a slightly elongated face and black flashing eyes. He was born a romantic dancer; refined and intellectual, which was a great help to me in my first work on Giselle. He explained many things to me, and between us there arose that emotional field of mutual understanding, mutual attraction, which I value so much in a partner. At our graduation, everyone said we made an extremely expressive pair. Our success surpassed all expectations. The critics took note of us. The extremely observant Vera Krasovskaya saw in our performance a contemporary interpretation, intellectually chilling, overshadowing the elegiac sorrow of the duet.


Nikita and I were both taken into the Kirov Ballet, but an unhappy fate befell the creative life of my first partner. After Nikita’s debut in Giselle, people at the theater started saying that a new Sergeyev had appeared. (Konstantin Sergeyev was the leading dancer at the Kirov and the artistic director.) This talk and cries of ecstasy around Nikita presumably were displeasing to the “original.” Nikita was saddled with secondary roles like the pas de trois, and he was not given any solos. Finally, he was given Giselle with Alla Shelest, who by then could hardly dance at all, and nothing good came of this for him.


His intellectual approach occasionally worked against him. In 1962 he went to Novosibirsk, whose director was Oleg Vinogradov. He did well for a time and then became distressed. His place was with the Kirov and he returned at the end of the ’60s to take a sort of examination of artistic maturity to assure himself a place in the company. In 1968, he danced wonderfully in A Legend of Love with Alla Ossipenko (and Giselle with me.) The theatre’s “Art Soviet Committee,” which danced to Sergeyev’s tune, then decided his fate, and Nikita was not taken back into the Kirov. I was personally quite disturbed, because with none of my other partners in Russia did I have a relationship so stimulating and interesting in every respect. Nikita went to the Maly Theater to work. How sad it is that he was not given a chance and that we danced together so little.”

Natalia Makarova

The following is a quote by Dolgushin from a 2008 interview:  

 “I remember how Natasha Makarova and I, at our graduation performance in 1959, danced the Pas de Deux from the second act of Giselle—and how we slightly modified the arabesques by leaning forward and elongating the movement. We were severely reprimanded for it when we did it in rehearsal. They called us to the director’s office and demanded that we strictly follow the traditional execution of the steps without any deviation. Of course we promised to obey the rules, but at the performance we still did it our way. And suddenly it was such a success that not only were we not punished, but our version has since become kind of iconic.”


For the official obituary, click here.