Aleksandra Dionisyevna Danilova (1903 – 1997) was a Russian-born prima ballerina, who became an American citizen. In 1989, she was recognized for lifetime achievements in ballet as a Kennedy Center Honoree.
Born in Peterhof, Russia on November 20, 1903, she trained at the Russian Imperial Ballet School in Leningrad (formerly and currently St. Petersburg). She was one of the few Russian-trained ballerinas to tour outside Russia. Her first professional post was as a member of St. Petersburg’s Imperial Ballet.
In 1924, she and George Balanchine left Russia. They were soon picked up by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes; Danilova as a dancer, Balanchine as a choreographer. Danilova toured for years with the Ballets Russes under Sergei Diaghilev, then with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo after Diaghilev’s death. With the latter company, Danilova andFrederic Franklin created one of the legendary ballet partnerships of the twentieth century. Danilova became known for her glamour and beautiful legs, as well as her work ethic and professionalism.
Danilova made her Broadway debut in 1944’s Song of Norway; her last ballet performance was in 1957.
Alexandra Danilova photographed by George Platt Lynes, c. 1930s
Alexandra Danilova as a star of Colonel de Basil’s Ballet Russe (1936) by Maurice Seymour.
Courtesy of Ronald Seymour/Maurice Seymour Archive.
Alexandra Danilova in Ballet Russe’s Nutcracker
F. Franklin and Alexandra Danilova (1948) by Irving Penn.
The Legs of Danilova, New York (1950) by Erwin Blumenfeld
Alexandra Danilova dances in Gaite Parisienne