Irina Mikhailovna Tennant (Baranova) (1919 - 2008)

Melbourne, Australia

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Place of Burial: Melbourne, Australia
Birthdate:
Birthplace: St. Petersburg, Russia
Death: Died in Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
Occupation: One of original Ballerinas, Ballet Russes
Managed by: Angela Tugwell
Last Updated:
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Immediate Family

About Irina Mikhailovna Tennant (Baranova)

She studied with Olga Preobrajenska in Paris, after her parents had emigrated from Russia.

Original and Prima Ballerina in the Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo.

"Irina made her debut with the Paris Opera in 1930, aged 11. Choreographer Georges Balanchine one day noticed the little girl with the grace of movement and obvious commitment to the stage. He engaged her for the Ballets Russes de Monte Carlo. She was 13 years old.

Balanchine had hit on an idea. He would get three very young dancers straight from the school and make them into a company of children. He chose Tamara Toumanova, 13, Tatiana Riabouchinska, 15 and Irina, 13. In 1933, during their first season in London, ballet writer Arnold Haskell gave them a nickname that stuck: the Three Baby Ballerinas. It turned out to be a piece of marketing genius. The baby ballerinas caused a sensation, packing houses around Europe, the US and beyond.

(Source: Sunday Age (Melbourne) September 14, 2003 Sunday

Agenda; Pg. 1 "My Life With ... "

BY: Peter Wilmoth)

Irina created roles in Massine's Les Présages, Jeux d'enfants, Beau Danube (1933), and Nijinska's Les Cent Baisers (1935). In 1939 she went to America and appeared in a Hollywood film. She joined the American Ballet Theatre as prima ballerina (1941-42). Then she performed with various companies in the US and retired in 1946.

Irina Baronova wrote a wonderful autobiography in 2005 called "Irina: Ballet, Life and Love." which talks about evading the Russian Revolution, Baronova and her parents escaping to Bucharest, where she learned ballet using the kitchen table as a barre. Spotted by legendary choreographer George Balanchine at the Paris Opéra, she became, at age 13, one of his three famous "baby ballerinas" with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. There she worked with dance legends Léonide Massine, Michel Fokine and Bronislava Nijinska, as well as artists Picasso, Dalí and Matisse. As an actress in Hollywood (often portraying dancers), and then as a star with American Ballet Theatre, Baronova continued to work and play with luminaries Yul Brynner, Clark Gable, Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe. But beyond tales of the personalities she knew, Baronova's prose is a testament to the woman she is: passionate, vivacious and overwhelmingly optimistic, even in the face of divorce, family strife and war."

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From 1932-39, her career was identified with the Ballets Russes, under the management of Vassily Voskresensky, known as Col. W. de Basil.

In 1936, at 17, she eloped in Newport, Ky., with de Basil's associate manager, German Sevastianov. When Sevastianov moved over as manager to Ballet Theater in 1941, Ms. Baronova became one of its leading ballerinas, leaving in 1943.

In 1940 she was a guest artist with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, a rival company headed by Sergei Denham, and in

1945, she danced with Massine's Ballet Russe Highlights.

Along the way, she made two Hollywood films, "Florian" (1940) and "Yolanda" (1943).

Irina retired from dancing after she married her second husband, Cecil Tennant, a British theatrical agent. They had three children, Victoria, Irina and Robert. Her husband Cecil Tennant died in a car accident in 1967.

1956 - See mention of Cecil as "my manager" and his wife Irina Baranova's comments in 1982_09_19 The Sunday Telegraph article by Sir Laurence Olivier "The Hazards of Working with Marilyn"(Monroe)

She continue worked for the Royal Academy of Dancing giving technical advice, while living in London.

Ms. Baronova resumed her relationship with first husband Sevastianov in 1971 and cared for him in the last years of his life. He died in 1974.

She later lived in Clarens, Vaud, Switzerland.

A recent documentary film has been produced on the 'Ballets Russes, containing records of her dancing and talking with her contemporary Tamara Tchinarova Finch.

Towards the end she decided to join her daughter Irina in Australia in New South Wales. She died peacefully in her sleep on June 28 2008.

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Source Citation:

Biographical Dictionary of Dance. By Barbara Naomi Cohen-Stratyner. London: Collier Macmillan Publishers, . (BiDD)

A Biographical Dictionary of the Soviet Union, 1917-1988. By Jeanne Vronskaya with Vladimir Chuguev. London: K.G. Saur, 1989. (BiDSovU)

Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 1: January, 1946-July, 1949. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1949. (BioIn 1)

Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 3: September, 1952-August, 1955. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1956. (BioIn 3)

Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 4: September, 1955-August, 1958. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1960. (BioIn 4)

Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 5: September, 1958-August, 1961. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1962. (BioIn 5)

Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 8: September, 1967-August, 1970. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1971. (BioIn 8)

Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 13: September, 1982-August, 1984. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1984. (BioIn 13)

Concise Oxford Dictionary of Ballet. By Horst Koegler. London: Oxford University Press, 1977. (CnOxB)

The Dance Encyclopedia. Revised and enlarged edition. Compiled and edited by Anatole Chujoy and P.W. Manchester. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1978. (DancEn) Biography contains portrait.

Dictionary of Women Worldwide. 25,000 women through the ages. Three volumes. Edited by Anne Commire. Waterford, CT: Yorkin Publications, 2007. (DcWomW)

Index to Women of the World from Ancient to Modern Times. Biographies and portraits. By Norma Olin Ireland. Westwood, MA: F.W. Faxon Co., 1970. (InWom)

International Dictionary of Ballet. Two volumes. Edited by Martha Bremser. Detroit: St. James Press, 1993. (IntDcB) Biography contains portrait.

Who Was Who in the Theatre: 1912-1976. A biographical dictionary of actors, actresses, directors, playwrights, and producers of the English-speaking theatre. Compiled from Who's Who in the Theatre, Volumes 1-15 (1912-1972). Four volumes. Detroit: Gale Research, 1978. (WhThe)

Who's Who in Hollywood. The largest cast of international film personalities ever assembled. Two volumes. By David Ragan. New York: Facts on File, 1992. (WhoHol 1992)


Name: Irina Baronova

Birth - Death: 1916-

Source Citation: Biography Index. A cumulative index to biographical material in books and magazines. Volume 17: September, 1990-August, 1992. New York: H.W. Wilson Co., 1992. (BioIn 17)


Name: Irina Baronova

Birth - Death: 1922-

Source Citation: Who's Who in Hollywood, 1900-1976. By David Ragan. New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House Publishers, 1976. The 'Living Players' section begins on page 11. (WhoHol A)

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Irina Baranova's Timeline

1919
March 13, 1919
St. Petersburg, Russia
1937
1937
Age 17
1949
1949
Age 29
2008
June 28, 2008
Age 89
Byron Bay, New South Wales, Australia
????
- present
Ballet Russes