Alexandra Danilova was especially noted for her interpretation of the renowned
Sugar Plum Fairy variation from The Nutcracker. This recording was made at
Jacob's Pillow Dance Festival in 1952.

Alexandra Danilova, Photo by Constantine Pictured: Danilova in a studio shot capturing the glamour and dramatic charisma that made her a beloved star with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.(Photograph by Constantine; from the Collections of the Music Division, Library of Congress.)

Born in Russia, Alexandra Danilova (1903-1997) studied at the Imperial Ballet School in Saint Petersburg. In 1920 she entered the former Maryinsky company, where she was soon dancing solo roles as well as participating in George Balanchine's Young Ballet. In 1924 the two left the Soviet Union and joined Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, where Danilova created roles in works by Balanchine as well as Léonide Massine. In 1933 she joined Colonel de Basil's Ballets Russes, where she remained until 1938, when she became the prima—and much loved—ballerina of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Danilova had a sparkling personality that endeared her to audiences and a repertory that encompassed nineteenth- and twentieth-century classics, soubrette as well as dramatic roles. In 1946 she collaborated with Balanchine on a staging of the full-length Raymonda and created the role of the Sleepwalker in Night Shadow. In 1951 she left the Ballet Russe, formed her own concert group, and in 1957, in Tokyo, danced her farewell performance. In 1964 she joined the faculty of the School of American Ballet, where she organized the first "workshop" performance. She died in New York City.

Learn more in Alexandra Danilova, an essay by Nancy Reynolds.

Alexandra Danilova as a star of Colonel de Basil's Ballet Russe, 1936 Pictured: Alexandra Danilova as a star of Colonel de Basil's Ballet Russe, 1936. (Photo by Maurice Seymour. Courtesy of Ronald Seymour/Maurice Seymour Archive.)