Dancing for Stalin by Christina Ezrahi

The Soviet era under Stalin has always been one shrouded in mystery, albeit with information emerging since the 1980s, which saw a period of openness (Glasnost) there remains uncertainty and secretiveness regarding this period.

In Dancing for Stalin: A Dancer’s Story of Courage and Survival in Soviet Russia: A True Story of Love and Survival in Soviet Russia, Christina Ezrahi unveils some of this mystery told through the experiences of Russian Ballerina, Nina Anisimova who, in 1938, during the height of Stalin’s ‘Great Terror’ disappeared into Soviet Russia’s notorious Gulag.

Nina’s story had been mostly unheard until a chance happening for the author, that led to the revelation of, not only Nina’s astounding story, but also the brutality of the Stalinist regime in the years leading up to World War II and Hitler’s invasion of Russia.  Told by piecing together a vast amount of historical research and surviving letters from Nina’s husband, the writer Konstantin Derzhavin, Christina Ezrahi brilliantly unveils a fascinating tale of love, a passion for ballet and survival in one of history’s most brutal regimes.

The surviving artifacts relating to this period of Nina’s life in the Gulag, portray not just someone determined to survive after being accused of espionage, but also someone whose love for her art, as well as her family managed to sustain her throughout her imprisonment.  Dancing for Stalin is not just a tale of Nina’s imprisonment but her inspirational effort to survive and succeed in a career dominated by men, where her legacy survives stronger since her passing in 1979 than it did during her lifetime.

Dancing for Stalin: A Dancer’s Story of Courage and Survival in Soviet Russia: A True Story of Love and Survival in Soviet Russia presents a new and fascinating portrayal of survival in Stalinist Russia, during a time of unimaginable horrors inflicted upon a people by its own government.  It would take decades for much of the information to become public and it is here that Christina Ezrahi’s happenchance upon a file containing documents on Nina’s imprisonment that this tale is revealed to the world, not only to inspire us, but to educate us that even through the darkest hours a light can still shine.

  • Dancing for Stalin: A Dancer’s Story of Courage and Survival in Soviet Russia: A True Story of Love and Survival in Soviet Russia by Christina Ezrahi is now published in paperback by Elliot & Thompson (£10.99). To order a copy go to eandtbooks.com
Tom Stanger
Host at Supernatural People podcast, Editor/writer at The Pilgrim Magazine, curator of the Pontyddim archives, tea drinker, hat wearer and autism advocate. PhD researcher on Gothic Literature & religion also does book reviews bad photography and other bits and bobs

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