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Vera Karalli (Koralli) the legend of Russian ballet

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Vera Karalli

Vera Karalli was a Russian silent film actress and ballerina of Bolshoi Theatre and the "Ballets Russes" (Russian Ballet) led by Sergei Diaghilev. She was often labled a Femme fatale due to extraordinary oriental beauty and notorious love affairs with prominent Russian instructor Alexander Gorsk, famous Russian operatic singer Leonid Sabinov and Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia.

Vera Karalli was born in Moscow in 1889 in the artistic family with Greek roots. The Greek background could traced in lsly seen on Vera's exotic appearance.

She graduated from the Moscow Theatre School in 1906 (class of Gorsky). Her strength was more of dramatic talent and stage presence than classical technique. With the Bolshoi Theatre she was promoted to soloist after two years and to ballerina in 1915. The "Dying Swan" became the debut ballet of Vera Karalli and a greatest success. Some critics considered she performed it veen better then Anna Pavlova from the artistic view point.

In 1914 Karalli also started a successful acting career, and became one of Russia's first celebrated film actresses. Her first role was in the 1914 Pyotr Chardynin directed drama "Ty pomnish' li?" (" Do You Remember?") opposite the successful actor Ivan Mozzhukhin. From 1914 to 1919, Vera Karalli would appear in approximately sixteen Russian silent films, including the 1915 adaptation of Leo Tolstoy's "War and Peace" entitled "Voyna i mir".

Her last film appearance was in a German dramatic release entitled Die Reiche einer Frau in 1921. Often chosen as a leading lady by the notable director Yevgeni Bauer, Karalli is possibly best recalled for her performances in the Bauer directed adaptations of novelist Ivan Turgenev's "Posle smerti" ("After Death") in 1915 and her role as Gizella in the 1917 melodrama "Umirayushchii Lebed" ("The Dying Swan").

The memoirist insist Vera Karalli had close relationship with Grand Duke Dmitri Pavlovich of Russia and was alleged co-conspirator in Grigiry Rasputin murder. Her participation was not proved, however Vera Karalli was soon banned from performing on the stage and in the cinema.

After fleeing to the West following the October Revolution, Karalli made her final film appearance in the 1921 Robert Wiene-directed German silent drama Die Rache einer Frau opposite Olga Engl and Franz Egenieff, credited as "Vera Caroly". In 1920, Karalli participated in a large a charity concert at the Paris Opéra along with opera singer and dancer Maria Kuznetsova amongst others, to raise funds to aid impoverished fellow Russian émigrés.

In the 1920s, Vera Karalli taught dance in Kaunas, Lithuania and from 1930 until 1935 she was the ballet mistress of the Romanian Opera in the capital city of Bucharest. From 1938 until 1941 Karalli lived in Paris, France. Later, she settled in Vienna, Austria and taught ballet there. Vera Karalli died in Baden, Austria in 1972. 2 weeks before her death she finally got the Soviet passport she had applied for before.


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