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SAB 90 - Antonina Tumkovsky

Who was Antonina Tumkovsky?

“Born in Kiev on Aug. 21, 1905, Ms. Tumkovsky became a soloist in the Kiev Ballet but moved to Berlin during World War II. After she immigrated to New York in 1949, Ms. Tumkovsky applied to Balanchine. She told him she had been only a soloist, not a ballerina; he replied that most teaching applicants told him they had been ballerinas. He said he liked soloists, having been one himself, and hired her after watching her teach a class.” — Anna Kisselgoff, New York Times Obituary, 2007

“Known for her vigor and warmth of her teaching, the Soviet trained Antonina Tumkovsky, who joined the staff in 1949, was a former soloist with the Kiev State Theater of Opera and Ballet and had post graduate training at the Leningrad State School of Ballet under Agrippa Vaganova.”

How did Tumkosvky teach?

“Beginning with children’s and intermediate toe classes, Tumkovsky taught everything at the School but adagio or partnering classes, including men’s classes.”—Jennifer Dunning

“Interested in speed, strength and precision, she focused on stamina and energy in a way other teachers did not. “Dancers knew that if they could get through her extremely demanding class, they could take on the most technically difficult roles onstage,” said Kay Mazzo” —Anna Kisselgoff

Tumkovsky taught at SAB for over 50 years, retiring in 2003 at the age of 98.

(left) Photo by Ben Ross, 1968 (center) Photo by Frederick Melton, 1953 (right) Teresa Reyes & Stacey Caddell

To hear more, check out the documentary that Suki Schorer directed and produced about Tumey.

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