An excerpt from Nikolai Tsiskaridze’s book, where he talks about Maria Alexandrova. I’ve been meaning to translate this for some time… Good luck not crying at the last paragraph.
“Masha Alexandrova was my conscious choice. I first noticed her when I was a freshman and she was still a junior at the Bolshoi Ballet Academy. Back then, everyone admired another girl in her class, but I liked Masha more for some reason. She was so little and so awkward, but very charming!
We first danced together in “Les Sylphides ”, when Masha was a freshman. That same year, we prepared a classical pas de deux to Adan’s music. During Masha’s final year at the academy, I partnered her in “Grand pas Classique” and “The Nutcracker” suite.
Since we had danced together so much, we did not need a lot of rehearsal time. That is why the academy’s director, Sofia Golovkina, was fine with me going on tour in the lead-up to Masha’s graduation performances, knowing that I would return on the day of the show.
I landed in Moscow and headed straight to the theatre, ahead of time, to run over some elements. On arrival, I was greeted by a strange sight: Masha was standing still in the middle of the stage. This was during the intermission. She just stood there, frozen on the spot. I walked over and started talking to her, but she didn’t react. I told her: “Masha, are you crazy? We go on in a minute, snap out of it!” At that moment one of the coaches pulled me aside and said: “Kolya, her father just died”. I had been in a similar situation myself*. We only had a few moments left, and I had to do something. I took her aside and, as a last resort, started yelling at her to try and break the state of shock. It worked. As soon as we returned to the safety of the wings after finishing our performance, I held her close, kissed her, and she broke down in my arms.”
*Nikolai’s mother died soon after he joined the Bolshoi.