Dance History

#tbt: Why Alexandra Danilova Could Never Pick a Favorite Role

Alexandra Danilova at the Metropolitan Opera House, 1957. Photo © Jack Mitchell

In the April 1944 issue of Dance Magazine, we chatted with prima ballerina assoluta Alexandra Danilova.


After leaving the Soviet Union in 1924 with George Balanchine, she danced with Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and Colonel de Basil's troupe before becoming the most beloved leading lady of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, where she formed a legendary partnership with Frederic Franklin.

By the time of her final performance in 1957, the remarkably versatile dancer had seemingly mastered every ballet in the repertoire. "A ballerina loves all her roles, just like a mother loves all her children," she told us. "Each is dear for some special reason. One you love because your public adores it. Another you prize because you worked so hard to make it what you wanted it to be. Still another seems to be really you, it is so much like you personally. There are as many reasons for loving a role as there are different roles."

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