The Russian ballerina Olga Lepeshinskaya, who is said to have been Joseph Stalin’s favourite dancer, has died in Moscow. She was 92.
Lepeshinskaya was born in Kiev the year before the Russian revolution, and joined the Bolshoi ballet troupe in 1933. Over the next three decades, she established an enviable reputation, becoming widely known for her leading roles in, amongst others, “Don Quixote” and “The Nutcracker.” It was at the 18th century Bolshoi Theatre that Stalin watched her perform several times. Lepeshinskaya continued to perform there into the 1960s. Tributes from the ballet world spoke of a huge loss for national culture and for Russian ballet in particular. The government in Moscow said President Dmitry Medvedev has sent his condolences to the ballerina’s family and friends.