We are presenting the participants of «Diaghilev P. S.»-2023: «Donna Tanya. 100 years of happiness»

Dear friends, we are pleased to present the educational part of Diaghilev P.S.-2023 advertisement. We will tell you about the Donna Tanya. 100 years of happiness documentary and its heroine, ballerina and ballet master Tatiana Leskova. The premiere of the film in St. Petersburg will be held as part of the Festival on 18 November in “Cinema & Theater” at the Angleterre. 

Tatiana Leskova was 100 years old in December 2022. She lives in Rio de Janeiro. Leskova surname is from her famous great-grandfather, writer Nikolai Leskov: Tatiana Yurievna is his only living direct kinswoman. She was born in 1922 in Paris. Her father served in the diplomatic corps and went to France a few years before the birth of his daughter. Tatiana was baptized by the mother of Nicholas II, Empress Maria Feodorovna – the Leskovs moved in the highest circles and knew the reigning family. By the time Tatiana Yurievna was born, the family grew poor and suffered want. Leskova got in the ballet class by necessity. The girl with weak lungs was prescribed physical activity, and her parents chose classical dance. 

Leskova found herself linked with the Russian Ballet from an early age. She entered the Paris studio of Lyubov Egorova, a ballerina who studied with Enrico Cecchetti, worked at the Mariinsky Theater and from 1921 collaborated with Diaghilev, becoming one of the Auroras in his The Sleeping Beauty magnum opus. After completing her studies, Tatiana Leskova herself joined Colonel de Basile’s Original Russian Ballet, one of the companies that was formed based upon Diaghilev’s company.

Leskova reached Brazil because of the World War II. At the outbreak of the hostilities, the Original Russian Ballet left London for a distant tour to Australia. The trip lasted a long time out of necessity, de Basile and his dancers reached South America. In Rio de Janeiro, Tatiana found a job and fell in love – and stayed there. In the 1950s she actually created the Brazilian ballet school: she headed the Municipal Theater of Rio de Janeiro, began training dancers and inviting colleagues to work with her. This is how Leonide Massine, one of Diaghilev’s principal dancers and choreographers, found himself in Rio. Thanks to this circumstance, Tatiana Leskova began restoring his ballets. The director could not remember one of the productions because he did not take notes. Leskova remembered the performance, having once danced in it, and she reassembled the production from the memory of the body. Later, many of Massine’s performances got a new lease of life thanks to the memory and ballet master’s work of Tatiana Leskova.

Maya Kucherskaya, writer and author of “Donna Tanya. 100 years of happiness”, met Tatiana Leskova in the spring of 2022 and was greatly impressed by the scale of the figure, history, and fate of the ballerina. She decided to make a movie. The film crew went to Rio de Janeiro and captured the life of the artist: her apartment full of paintings and photographs, the anniversary concert, the favorite church. In “Donna Tanya” you can hear the words of Tatiana’s students and colleagues and, of course, her own stories. 


Съемки “Донны Тани”. Декабрь 2022, Рио-де-Жанейро


I was fascinated, I realized I wanted to tell everyone about her. I could certainly write a book. But there is already a book about Leskova, in English, and it is a very informative biography. It would be strange to repeat. Besides, Tatiana Leskova is a professional ballerina, and it is much more interesting to show her, her eyes, her gestures, her smile.

Maya Kucherskaya


To meet the Russian ballerina who created the Brazilian ballet and preserved Leonide Massine’s productions, follow our announcements. Ticket sales for all Festival events will begin on 20 September.