Toumanova in a promotional portrait
|Native name||Тамара Владимировна Туманова|
2 March 1919|
Tyumen, Russian SFSR
|Died||29 May 1996
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Ballerina and actress|
Tamara Toumanova (Russian: Тамара Туманова, Georgian: თამარა თუმანოვა, Armenian: Թամար Թումանեան; 2 March 1919 – 29 May 1996) was a Russian-born American  prima ballerina and actress. A child of exiles in Paris after the Russian Revolution of 1917, she made her debut at the age of 10 at the children's ballet of the Paris Opera.
She became known internationally as one of the Baby Ballerinas of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, after being discovered by her fellow émigré, balletmaster and choreographer George Balanchine. She was featured in numerous ballets in Europe. Balanchine also featured her in his productions at Ballet Theatre, New York, making her the star of his performances in the United States. While most of Toumanova's career was dedicated to ballet, she appeared as a ballet dancer in several films, beginning in 1944. She became a naturalized United States citizen in 1943 in Los Angeles, California.
After moving to Paris, Toumanova was given piano lessons and studied ballet with Olga Preobrajenska, who she described as her "first and only permanent teacher" and an "immortal friend". At the age of six, the ballerina Anna Pavlova invited young Toumanova to perform in one of her gala concerts (08.06.1925). Toumanova danced a polka choreographed by Preobrajenska. The girl was ten when she made her debut at the Paris Opera as a child étoile in the ballet L'Éventail de Jeanne (for which ten French composers wrote the music).
In 1931, when Toumanova was twelve years old, George Balanchine saw her in ballet class and engaged her for de Basil's Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, along with Irina Baronova, 12, and Tatiana Riabouchinska, 14. The three girls were an immediate success, and the writer Arnold Haskell dubbed them the "baby ballerinas". Toumanova quickly became recognised as a young prodigy of immense talent. She came to be called "The Black Pearl of the Russian Ballet", because, as A.V. Coton[who?] wrote, "she was the loveliest creature in the history of the ballet", with black silky hair, deep brown eyes and pale almond skin. Toumanova was considered the most glamorous of the trio. Throughout her dynamic career, her mother was her devoted companion, nursemaid, dresser, agent and manager – she was always at the helm.
Balanchine created the role of the "Young Girl" for Toumanova in his ballet Cotillon and had her star in his Concurrence and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme. Léonide Massine also worked closely with Toumanova in the creation of many of his ballets. She played the part of the Top in his Jeux d'Enfants. Balanchine created a role for her in his Le Palais de Cristal (since re-titled Symphony in C) in 1947 at the Paris Opera.
In 1936, while Toumanova was performing ballet in Chicago, an 18-year-old boy named Burr Tillstrom came to see her perform. Following the ballet, Burr went backstage to meet her. As they talked, Toumanova and Tillstrom became friends. Some time later, Tillstrom showed her a favorite puppet he had made and she, surprised by his revelation, exclaimed, "Kukla" (Russian for "puppet"). Burr Tillstrom went on to create a very early (1947) television show for children, titled, Kukla, Fran and Ollie.
Peter Anastos. "A conversation with Tamara Toumanova", Ballet Review, vol. 11, no 4, Winter 1984, pp. 33–57
- 1925 (6 August 1925) First performs before the public in the polka choreographed by Olga Preobrajenska (to Anatoly Liadov), during an Anna Pavlova gala at the Palais du Trocadéro, Paris (Pavlova selected Toumanova from Preobrajenska's school).
- 1929 Creates first principal role on 4 March as guest étoile with the Paris Opera Ballet, performing the Valse (to Ibert), the Polka (to Milhaud), the Rondeau (to Auric), and the Kermesse-Valse (to Schmitt), in the Yvonne Franck/Alice Bourgat one-act ballet in ten parts for students, L'Even-tail de Jeanne.
- 1929–30 Performs with the Paris Opera Ballet in Monte Carlo, in Brussels, and in Geneva at the League of Nations.
- 1931 Joins the Blum-de Basil Les Ballets Russes de Monte-Carlo at Balanchine's invitation.
- 1932 Creates principal roles with the Ballets Russes: the Young Girl in Balanchine's Cotillon; the Girl in his La Concurrence; Lucille in his Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme; in the Valse in his Suites de danse; in his Classical Ballet section for the opera-ballet Patrie; the Chinese Woman and a Poppy in his dances for the opera Fay-yen-Fah; a Chinese Porcelain in his dances for the opera Turandot; in his Grand pasclassique for the operetta A Night in Venice; and the Top in Massine's Jeux d'enfants. Recreates the Ballerina in Fokine's Petrushka and the Mazurka and the Valse pas de deux in Les Sylphides. Privately studies the classics and choreographic theory with Balanchine. Seasons in Monte Carlo and Paris and tour of Europe.
- 1933 Joins the Balanchine-James Les Ballets 1933 at Balanchine's invitation. Creates principal roles: in the Tema con variazioni and Finale in his Mozartiana; the Ballerina in his Les Songes; and the Young Girl in his Fastes. Seasons in Paris and London. Rejoins Les Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. Creates principal role in Massine's Choreartium (to Brahms's Fourth Symphony). Season in London, tour of Britain, first New York season.
- 1934 Creates with the Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo the Mexican Girl in Massine's Union Pacific and a principal role in Lichine's Les Imaginaires. Recreates the Miller's Wife with Massine in his Le Tricorne and the Tarantella in his La Boutique fantasque; Odette in Swan Lake Act II; and the title role in Fokine's Firebird. Tours of the United States, Canada, Central America, and Europe; seasons in Paris, London, Mexico City, Barcelona, Havana, Montreal, and New York.
- 1935 Creates with de Basil's Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo the Poor Couple, with Massine, in his Jardin public; a principal role in his Le Bal; and Nijinska's Lezginka for a Covent Garden gala. Adds to her repertory Aurora in Le Menage d'Aurore and the Girl in Fokine's La Spectre de la rose.
- 1934 The Comet (cr) in Les Imaginaires (Lichine), de Basil’s Ballets Russes, London Tarantella in La Boutique fantasque (revival; Massine), de Basil’s Ballets Russes, London
- The Miller’s Wife in Le Tricorne (Massine), (de Basil's) Monte Carlo Ballet Russe, Chicago
- The Mexican Girl (cr) in Union Pacific (Massine), (de Basil’s) Monte Carlo Ballet Russe, Philadelphia
- 1935 The Poor Couple (cr) in Jardin public (Massine), (de Basil’s) Monte Carlo Ballet Russe, Chicago
- Principal dancer (cr) in Le Bal (Massine), (de Basil’s) Monte Carlo Ballet, Chicago
- 1936 The Beloved (cr) in Symphonie fantastique (Massine), de Basil’s Ballets Russes, London
- 1938 Title role in Giselle (after Petipa, Coralli, Perrot) (Denham’s) Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, London .
- 1940 Illusion (cr) in La Lutte eternelle (Schwezoff), Original Ballet Russe, Sydney
- Swanilda in Coppelia (Obukhov after Petipa, Saint-Leon), Original Ballet Russe, Sydney
- 1941 Third and Fourth Movements (cr) in Balustrade (Balanchine), Original Ballet Russe, New York
- Ariadne (cr) in Labyrinth (Massine), Denham’s Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, New York
- The Cakewalk (cr) in Saratoga (Massine), Denham’s Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, New York
- 1944 The Girl (cr) in Moonlight Sonata (Massine), Ballet Theatre, New York
- Principal dancer (cr) in Harvest Time (Nijinska), Ballet Theatre, New York
- Kitri in Don Quixote Pas de Deux (Obukhov after Petipa), Ballet Theatre. New York
- 1944–45 Sugar Plum Fairy in The Nutcracker Pas de deux (Dolin after Ivanov), Ballet Theatre, New York
- Odile in Black Swan Pas de deux (Swan Lake, Act III; Dolin after Petipa), Ballet Theatre, New York
- 1947 Second Movement (cr) in Palais de cristal (later called Symphony in C; Balanchine), Paris Opera Ballet, Paris
- Title role in Giselle (Sergeyev after Petipa, Coralli, Perrot), Paris Opera Ballet, Paris
- 1949 The Duchess (cr) in Del Amor y de la muerte (Ricarda), Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, Paris
- The Infanta (cr) in Le Coeur de diamond (Lichine), Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas, Monte Carlo
- 1950 Title role (cr) in Phedre (Serge Lifar), Paris Opera Ballet, Paris
- Principal dancer (cr) in L'Inconnue (Lifar), Paris Opera Ballet, Paris
- Principal dancer (cr) in La Fee d’Aibee (Aveline), Paris Opera Ballet, Versailles
- Principal dancer (cr) in La Pierre enchantee (Lifar), Paris Opera Ballet, Paris
- 1951 Potiphar’s Wife (cr) in Leggenda di Giuseppe (The Legend of Joseph; Wallmann), La Scala, Milan
- Principal dancer (cr) in La Vita dell’uomo (Wallmann), La Scala, Milan
- 1952 Principal dancer (cr) in Reve (pas de deux; Dolin), London Festival Ballet, London
- 1956 Principal dancer (cr) in The Seven Deadly Sins (Char- rat), La Scala, Milan
- The Dance of the Seven Veils (cr) in Salome (opera; mus. Strauss, chor. Toumanova), La Scala, Milan
- Principal dancer (cr) in Epoque romantique (also chor.), Piccola Scala, Milan
- The Princess (cr) in Le Fanfare pour le Prince (Taras), Celebration of the Marriage of Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly, Monte Carlo
Toumanova on film
Toumanova appeared in six Hollywood films between 1944 and 1970, always playing dancers. She made her feature film debut in 1944, in Days of Glory, playing a Russian dancer being saved from the invading Germans in 1941 by Soviet partisan leader Gregory Peck (who also made his debut in that film).
In 1953 she played Russian prima ballerina Anna Pavlova in Tonight We Sing, and in 1954 she appeared in the biographical musical, Deep in My Heart, as the French dancer Gaby Deslys. In 1956 she did a dance scene with Gene Kelly in his dance film, Invitation to the Dance. In 1966 she played the odious, unnamed lead ballerina in Alfred Hitchcock's political thriller Torn Curtain. In 1970 she played Russian ballerina "Madame Petrova" in Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes.
Tamara Toumanova, was born Tamara Vladimirovna Khassidovitch  in Siberia, while her mother, Princess Eugenia Tumanishvili was fleeing Georgia in search of her husband (either Vladimir Khassidovitch, or Dr Konstantin Zakharov, a physician in the Caucasian Military District, depending on the source). Toumanova is of Armenian and Polish descent. Toumanova was reportedly also of partial Georgian descent, although singer Lyudmila Lopato, who personally knew Toumanova, wrote that "Tamara was of Armenian-Polish descent, not Georgian, as many people think". Toumanova's maternal grandfather Prince Dmitry Toumanov was a follower of the Armenian Apostolic Church. Toumanova's parents had become separated during the Russian Revolution. She was 18 months old before they reunited. The family escaped from Russia via Vladivostok
Toumanova died in Santa Monica, California, on May 29, 1996, aged 77, from undisclosed causes. Before her death, she gave her Preobrajenska costumes to the Vaganova Choreographic Museum in St Petersburg, Russia. She was buried next to her mother Eugenia in Hollywood, Hollywood Forever Cemetery.
In his obituary, British choreographer John Gregory was said to describe Toumanova as a "remarkable artist – a great personality who never stopped acting. It is impossible to think of Russian ballet without her."
- Sergei Denham Records of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, circa 1936–1978 held by the Jerome Robbins Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts
- MYRNA OLIVER T. Toumanova; Ballerina and Actress Los Angeles Times, 31 May 1996 
- Ilia Tavberidze. The Black Pearl of Ballet. Tamara Toumanova. Arabesque, , 
- Уколова Ю. В. ТАМАРА ТУМАНОВА (1919–1996) «ЧЕРНАЯ ЖЕМЧУЖИНА РУССКОГО БАЛЕТА», ж. Вестник Академии русского балета им. А.Я. Вагановой. 2007 ISSN 1681-8962, №18, с.279–291
- Мейлах Михаил Борисович Эвтерпа, ты? Художественные заметки. Беседы с артистами русской эмиграции. Том 1. Балет ID 4251015 Изд.: Новое литературное обозрение ISBN 978-5-86793-629-7; 2008 г.-стр.65–77 (разговор с Тамарой Тумановой, 1992г.)
- Юрий Григорович ЗОЛОТОЕ ЯБЛОКО СЕРЖА ЛИФАРЯ. Последнее интервью выдающейся балерины XX века Тамары Тумановой Независимая газета №190, 10.10.1996 
- Francis Mason Tamara Toumanova (1919–1996) Ballet Review 24-3 Fall 1996 st.34–62
- TOUMANOVA, Tamara. International Dictionary of Ballet: VOL. 2 L – Z. P. 1427-1430, St James Press, 1993 ISBN 1558620842, 9781558620841
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- Smithsonian magazine, February 2007: Pas de Deux – Joseph Cornell turned his obsession with a prima ballerina into art Retrieved 2012-08-29
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- The American Dancer, vol 14, issue 2 (1941): "Seen on New York's 57th Street, the hub of the ballet social world: Tamara Toumanova, Leon and Hercelia Danielian and William Saroyan, all within a block of each other; one more Armenian and the street would have been roped off..."
- Людмила Ильинична Лопато, Волшебное зеркало воспоминаний, 2003г., cit. "Тамара была армянско-польского происхождения, а вовсе не грузинской княжной Туманишвили, как многие думают"./"Tamara was of Armenian-Polish descent, not Georgian, as many people think". Zakharov.ru; retrieved 30 September 2011.
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- One America: the history, contributions, and present problems of our racial and national minorities by Francis James Brown and Joseph Slabey Rouček, p. 308
- Beauty in exile: the artists, models, and nobility, by Aleksandr Vasil'ev – 2000: «She was the daughter of army engineer Vladimir Khazidovich-Boretsky and Yevgenia, an Armenian woman».
- Mason, Francis (1991). I remember Balanchine: recollections of the ballet master by those who knew him. Doubleday. p. 103. ISBN 978-0-385-26610-9. Tamara Toumanova: "I think he saw kinship with me, with my tristesse, with my being part Georgian."
- Gottlieb, Robert. George Balanchine: The Ballet Maker. HarperCollins 2004, p. 136; ISBN 0-06-075070-7
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- Gregory, John. Obituary for Tamara Toumanova, Saturday, 1 June 1996