Faces of Berlin : Tatjana Gsovsky

As part of our redesign in 2014, the hotel’s architect Jan Kleihues, designed the ‘Faces of Berlin’. This concept celebrates some of Berlin’s most beloved personalities in feature walls through the hotel and every month we present the background on some of these personalities. Previously we profiled Marlene Dietrich, and former heavyweight champion of the world Max Schmeling.  We also learned about the life of playwright, poet and theatre director Bertolt Brecht as well as the life and times of ‘Iron Gustav’ and his extraordinary journey from Berlin to Paris and back. Next we paid homage to Berlin’s adorable unofficial mascot – the polar bear Knut and we featured German actress, singer and writer Hildegard Knef. Last month we brought you a man considered one of the fathers of modern architecture – Walter Gropius and our latest features internationally renowned ballet teacher, choreographer and dancer, Tatjana Gsovsky.

Reception Faces

Faces of Berlin in the hotel reception

Although born in Moscow, Tatjana Gsovsky became internationally renowned for her work in Berlin and as such became an honorary Berliner. Born in 1901 as Tatjana Issatschenko, her mother Claudia was a famous modern dancer and as a result, Tatjana grew up to study ballet in Isadora Duncan’s St Petersburg studios, before moving to Krasnodar in the west of Russia to work as a ballet teacher. It was there that she met her soon to be husband Victor Gsovsky who had also studied ballet.

Tatjana Gsovsky © Wikimedia

Tatjana Gsovsky © Wikimedia

In the mid 1920’s the two emigrated along with the second wave of Russian immigrants to Berlin and Victor’s first appointment was with the Berlin State Opera as a choreographer. This would be the beginning of the long association with the organisation for them both.  Tatjana worked in vaudeville and numerous German theatre companies during this time. In 1928 they started a private ballet school –  Ballet Gsovsky and together they took small tours with the company to perform.

Tatjana Gsovsky © Staatsballett Berlin

Tatjana Gsovsky © Staatsballett Berlin

 

Somehow they got through the war and after WWII Tatjana became ballet mistress at the Berlin State Opera in East Berlin (Deutsche Staatsoper). Victor had been dismissed from his role as director in 1930 due to personality differences with the new director Rudolph Laban.  From 1945 – 1951 she took on a leadership role in the company and become known for infusing her own personality into the works, bringing a unique sense of style to the productions that had not been previously seen. In the early 1950’s her career progressed further as she began to work with the Deutsche Oper in West Berlin as well as founding the Berliner Ballett in 1955. In the mid 1950’s she wrote and published the book ‘Ballett in Deutschland’.

Tatjana Gsovsky plaque © Wikimedia

Tatjana Gsovsky plaque © Wikimedia

Her choreographic works were widely known within dance circles in Germany over more than 2 decades as well as choreographing works for companies in Munich, Frankfurt, Essen, Leipzig, Dresden, as well as abroad in Milan and Beunos Aires. Tatiana Gsovsky died in Berlin in 1993 at the age of 92 and received an honorary grave) at the Waldfriedhof Zehlendorf.

 

 

Melinda Barlow is an Australian freelance writer and editor, based in Berlin since 2012. Melinda works with print and online media and has a natural curiosity that informs her work. She is passionate about travel and great content. She loves to write most about the world, its people and why we all do what we do.