(orig. T. Isatchenko; b Moscow, 18 Mar. 1901; d Berlin, 29 Sept. 1993)
Russian-German dancer, ballet director, choreographer, and teacher. One of the most important influences on German ballet in the 20th century, and the leading German choreographer of the 1940s and 1950s. She studied at the Duncan studio in St Petersburg (Petrograd) and later with Laurent Novikov, Vera Kirsanova, Preobrajenska, and at the Dalcroze school in Dresden-Hellerau. After the October Revolution she became ballet mistress in Krasnodar, where she met Victor Gsovsky, the dancer and teacher whom she married. She left Russia in 1925 ending up in Berlin where she and her husband started a school in 1928. She worked as a choreographer in German variety theatres and at the opera houses in Essen, Leipzig, and Dresden. From 1945 to 1952 she was ballet director of the German State Opera in East Berlin, where she choreographed many works. After a short time with the Teatro Colón in Buenos Aires (1952–3), she returned to Germany and joined the Municipal Opera in West Berlin (later the Berlin Opera Ballet) where she remained from 1954 to 1966. In 1955 she founded the pioneering chamber group, the Berlin Ballet, which toured widely and in 1961 became the touring section of the Berlin Opera Ballet. She was also ballet director in Frankfurt (1959–66). She created numerous ballets, most of them for the companies in East and West Berlin. She choreographed the first productions of Henze's Der Idiot (The Idiot, Berlin, 1952), Orff's Trionfo di Afrodite (Milan, 1953), Egk's Die chinesische Nachtigall (Munich, 1953), Nono's Der rote Mantel (The Red Cloak, Berlin, 1954), Sauguet's Die Kameliendame (Berlin, 1957), Klebe's Menagerie (Berlin, 1958), Gassmann's Paean (Berlin, 1960), and Blacher's Tristan (Berlin, 1965). She choreographed the first German production of Prokofiev's Romeo and Juliet (Berlin, 1948) and Weill's The Seven Deadly Sins (Frankfurt, 1960). Author of Ballett in Deutschland (Berlin, 1954).