Without Tatiana Dokoudovska’s tremendous artistic talent and distinguished professional career, plus the unswerving drive for furthering her art, the Midwest would be much poorer artistically—nor would we have a professional ballet company in Kansas City.
For twenty years, she nurtured the company with her time, love, talent and even her personal financial resources as artistic director and/or advisor and choreographer. She brought the company from an outgrowth of the Conservatory of Music’s recital program through gradual stages to a metropolitan-area civic company, and then to the threshold of the company’s first professional season. In 1977, she asked the company to bring in a new artistic director, so she could devote her primary attention to teaching. Miss Dokoudovska’s contribution to dance in general and especially to a professional ballet company cannot be over-estimated, nor is there any way to completely express the debt owed to her by all lovers of fine dance in mid-America.
Born in Beausoleil, France, a pupil of Olga Preobragenska, Miss Dokoudovska began her professional career at the age of 12, dancing in operettas and motion pictures. While attending I’Ecole des Artes (Professional School), she danced for the opera season in Monte Carlo, followed by an engagement as soloist with the Ballet Russe de l’Opera Comique de Paris, touring Europe, England and Ireland, with an annual season in Paris. She danced in two special performances of the operas Boris Godounov and Prince Igor, guest star Feodor Chaliapin, for the President of the Republic of France. After performing at the Colonial Exposition in Paris, she joined the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as soloist for the opera and ballet season at the Monte Carlo Theatre and London’s Drury Lane Theater.
Miss Dokoudovska came to America with the Mordkin Ballet for a tour of the United States and their season in New York, continuing with the company which later became American Ballet Theatre. During the years of World War II, she joined the Radio City Music Hall ballet, but returned to Europe after the war to join the Original Ballet Russe as a soloist for a season at Covent Garden, London and in France and Belgium.
Upon her return to the United States, Miss Dokoudovska became an American citizen. She continued her career performing in summer theaters, teaching at Ballet Arts, Carnegie Hall, New York and Regent Academy, New Jersey, giving private classes to movie stars and working with polio afflicted children.
In 1954, during an appearance as a soloist at Starlight Theatre, she was offered and accepted the position as head of the ballet department at the Conservatory of Music, which later became a part of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, a position she held until her retirement in 1989. In addition to the duties of this position, for four seasons she choreographed for the Kansas City Philharmonic, founded the Kansas City Ballet Company and initiated the program of the Bachelor’s degree in dance at U.M.K.C. at a time when few such programs were available throughout the United States, as well as worked with the National Association of Dance and Affiliated Artists (NADAA), Dance Educator of Windsor, Canada, Dance Caravan, and Empire State Ballet of Albany, New York.
In 1966, she was honored nationally by her election to the original Board of Directors of the Association of American Dance Companies, an organization of professional and civic companies in the United States. She was also a member of the Theater Arts Council and of the Committee on Dance of the Missouri State Council on the Arts.
Out of her wealth of experience, Miss Dokoudovska was able to teach the original choreography of many classical works, restage several others, create numerous new works and see former pupils as members of the New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, Joffrey Ballet, Harkness, National Ballet in Washington, D.C., San Francisco Ballet, BalletMet, Urban Bush Women, Garth Fagan Dance Company and the Alvin Ailey Dance Company. Today you will find her students in all branches of the dance world – the ultimate tribute to a distinguished and inspiring teacher.