Love Story: Galina Ulanova and Her Men

Love Story: Galina Ulanova and Her Men

The most titled Soviet ballerina always kept her personal life a secret. She even destroyed her diaries towards the end of her life. But what do we still know about her relationships?

The great taciturn woman

She was idolized not only by the public. Writer Alexei Tolstoy called Galina Ulanova an "Ordinary Goddess"; the great composer Sergei Prokofiev - "The Genius of Russian Ballet". The French novelist Maurice Druon wrote: 

“... thanks to you, I realized that dance can also be an expression of the most subtle feelings...”

Sergei Eisenstein, a film director, dreamed of filming Ulanova as Tsarina Anastasia in his movie Ivan the Terrible. 

Many men courted the great ballerina, seeking her reciprocity. 

However, little is known about the personal life of Galina Ulanova, and only cold facts.

She avoided talking about personal relationships in interviews. The ballerina was always quiet and shy. It took a lot of work for her to overcome the stage fright, not to be embarrassed by the fact that they were looking at her.  

Life partners of the great ballerina

The first boyfriend of seventeen-year-old Galina was concertmaster Isaac Melikovsky, but their relationship did not last long. After some time, the ballerina began dating Evgeny Dubovsky, a conductor with the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theater in Leningrad. But this affair was not destined to become long-term either. 

The only official husband of Galina Ulanova was Yuri Zavadsky, a theater director, actor and teacher. He, like the other men in the life of Galina Sergeevna, was much older than her. 

The union of the two talented people didn’t look like a classic marriage. Nowadays, it would be called a guest marriage. Ulanova said:

“He was coming to my place to rest. We didn't talk much, he would just sit in a chair in front of the TV and watch it for a long time. The fact that I was around was enough for him. Our life consisted of his and my work.”  

Even after parting in the late 1940s, they maintained friendly relations. 

The next partner of Galina Ulanova was the famous actor and theater director Ivan Bersenev. They lived together for about two years and were separated by the sudden death of the actor.  

The last companion of Galina Sergeevna was the chief artist of the Bolshoi Theater Vadim Ryndin. However, their relationship didn’t last long, as the ballerina refused to tolerate Vadim Fedorovich's addiction to alcohol, and they broke up.   

Galina Ulanova remembered her life partners with respect:

“All my husbands were creative, talented and very interesting people. They gave me a lot, taught me a lot… I remember everyone with gratitude.”  

The forgotten Queen

There are still many rumors about the personal life of Galina Ulanova. One of them connected the Soviet ballerina and the Duke of Edinburgh. 

After the London tour of the Bolshoi Theater in 1956, eyewitnesses said that at one of the performances, the audience got so excited with Ulanova's performance that they violated the age-old etiquette rule: at the end of a performance, you must first solemnly see the Queen off, and only after that applaud the artists. 

But Ulanova's dancing in Giselle made the English audience forget about their Queen. When the curtain fell, there was a storm of applause, spectators rushed to the stage, and Elizabeth II left unnoticed. Maybe it was this story that caused the rumors about the romance of Galina Ulanova and Prince Philip. 

Brilliant understatement

Perhaps, if her life had lasted a few more years, there would have been fewer secrets. In 1998, the great ballerina told the Ogoniok magazine: 

“I intend to write a book. You might call it whatever you want - recollections, biography, memoirs. It is for this book that I keep everything that I could tell.”

But she didn't have time. Moreover, Galina Sergeevna destroyed all her notes. She didn’t want her life, her thoughts and feelings to be made public. The great taciturn woman retained an understatement here as well. 

Boris Lvov-Anokhin, a famous director, ballet expert and author of the book Galina Ulanova, wrote about her dancing style:

“Ulanova never says anything to the end, thus leaving room for the imagination of the audience. They themselves (every person in their own way) dance, play, say, “sing” to the end for her and get enormous, incomparable pleasure doing this.”

These words, like no other, are also suitable for describing the personal life of Galina Ulanova, who left more questions than answers.