Galina Ulanova

There were skeptics that night in London in 1956. Moscow's renowned Bolshoi Ballet had finally crossed the Iron Curtain to premiere at the Royal Opera House with Romeo and Juliet, starring a 46-year-old Galina Ulanova in the title role of the ballet's tragic — and teenage — heroine. Balletomanes whispered in the stalls. How could the aging prima ballerina avoid public embarrassment? Backstage, Ulanova waited, dressed in an overcoat. But when the conductor gave the cue, she shed her bulky outer layer and emerged a starry-eyed Juliet. Leaping as if to ignore gravity, Ulanova soared into legend, setting the standard against...

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