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Nathalie Krassovska, 86; Ballerina Praised for Lyrical Performances

February 17, 2005|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

Nathalie Krassovska, 86, a Russian-born ballerina known for such roles as "Giselle" during her 15 years with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, died Feb. 8 in Dallas of complications of surgery.

The daughter and granddaughter of ballerinas, Krassovska was born in Petrograd (now St. Petersburg) shortly after the Russian Revolution, but received her training in Paris.

She joined Ballet Russe in 1935 and remained until 1950 when she moved to the London Festival Ballet for her final decade of performing. Touring primarily in the U.S. and Western Europe, she was praised for her lyrical performances not only of "Giselle" but also "Les Sylphides," "Scheherezade" and "The Snow Maiden" and in productions of "Swan Lake" and "The Nutcracker."

An extraordinary beauty, Krassovska was offered a movie contract by David O. Selznick, but rejected it to remain with the ballet. "It was a very hard decision," she said. As a seasoned trouper, she often stretched her repertoire, notably to learn tap dancing for her role in Leonid Massine's 1940 comedy "The New Yorker," based on the magazine's cartoons.

A U.S. citizen since 1964, Krassovska settled in Dallas more than 40 years ago and founded the Ballet Jeunesse of Dallas to teach and choreograph ballet for youngsters. Krassovska, who danced in local productions of "The Nutcracker" into her 80s, produced her last concert, "Tribute to Ballet Russe," at Southern Methodist University in 1997.

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