Nina Anisimova was one of Russia’s most renowned ballerinas and one of the first Soviet female choreographers. Yet few knew that her exemplary career concealed a dark secret.
In 1938, at the height of Stalin’s Great Terror, Nina was arrested by the secret police, accused of being a Nazi spy and sentenced to forced labour in a camp in Kazakhstan. Trapped without hope – and without winter clothes in temperatures of minus 40 degrees – her art was her salvation, giving her a reason to fight for her life.
As Nina struggled to survive in the Gulag, her husband fought for her release in Leningrad. Against all odds, she was ultimately freed and astonishingly managed to return to her former life, just as war broke out. Despite wartime deprivation and the suffocating grip of Stalin’s totalitarian state, Nina’s irrepressible determination set her on the path to become an icon of the Kirov Ballet.
Dancing for Stalin is a remarkable true story of suffering and injustice, of courage, resilience and triumph.
PUBLISHED BY ELLIOT & THOMPSON
Wow! If you’re looking for a story about an inspirational woman then look no further! I knew nothing of Nina Anisimova before picking this book up, and was just interested in finding out more about Russian history and I’ve been left gobsmacked by the story of this woman who found herself arrested during the purge of Stalin in 1938, and was sentenced to forced labour in Kazakhstan.
Her story is horrific and inspiring in equal measures as you read what was she was forced to endure under this brutal regime and it really brings home the horrors of life under Stalin. Her husband fought relentlessly on the outside for her release, and their story is made even clearer by the letters they shared and that is where the author found her inspiration. She only came across their story by mistake – what a story to uncover!
Her life before her arrest makes for astonishing reading too, as she rose to the top of the ballet world, and that love for ballet is what kept her going through the toughest times in the labour camps. She would dream of returning to the stage and choreography and you are left in no doubt with her attitude that she was going to achieve that aim, no matter what she was facing on a daily basis.
The background into Russian history was also absolutely fascinating, and seeing how the propoganda and paranoia whipped up by Stalin would make the population so fearful. The treatment of prisoners was horrific and the author pulls no punches in sharing what those locked up had to go through.
The love of her husband was equally powerful – their letters were so touching but always spoke of hope, and he just wouldn’t give up on getting her back. A truly amazing and courageous couple!
An astonishing story that needs to be read to be believed! Powerful!
My thanks to Sarah Harwood for the review copy in return for a fair and honest review.