History of the Tatiana Ball in Cleveland


Plain Dealer coverage of the 1964 Tatiana Ball

The feast day of the Martyr Tatiana (commemorated in old Russia on January 26 since the era of Catherine the Great) had been celebrated by the Society since  1951.  In the beginning, the celebrations took the form of a concert or “cultural evening” with musical and dramatic performances by the members themselves.

After celebrating their 10th year anniversary in 1961 the ever-active members began to aspire  to a more ambitious celebration of this honored day in keeping with the traditions  of Tsarist Russia.  In 1963 a ball committee was formed headed by Society  President George Mezernicky, Secretary Maria Simonoff, T.S. Valueva, Nicholas Verbiski, M. Meshchersky, and Alexander Von der Nonne.

A format for the ball was avidly discussed and argued.  It was finally agreed that  after a cocktail hour, an elegant dinner was to be served;  during dinner musical entertainment of the highest available quality;  ballroom dancing to a live orchestra and a debutante pageant would culminate in the election of Miss Tatiana.  The price was set at $7.50 per person!


     On January 24, 1964, in the formal hall of the Hotel Manger in downtown Cleveland, The Tatiana Ball became a reality. Vera Brynner was invited to sing  for the  entertainment portion of the Ball.  Ms. Brynner, sister of famous actor Yul Brynner and a noted artist in her own right, sang her repertoire of Russian romances.  The success of this ambitious ball exceeded all expectations.

This gave stimulus to the governing committee to commemorate the feast day with an elegant Ball as an annual event.  For many years, and even to this day, the concert portion of the ball was a subject of considerable interest, research and debate.    In 1965 Galina Barnatnaya was invited to perform, in 1966, Kira Baklanova, in 1968, the string orchestra of A. Zvantsev, in 1970 Louis Danto, later Gary Nova, Sergey Bolderev, Irina Kovalevskaya, Marusya Sava, Igor Zaika-Voyevod, Sonia and Rita from Toronto and others.   In the 70’s and 80’s Society member Ala Abakumov frequently accompanied the visiting artists on the piano.

     In 1967, the committee was thrilled to secure the legendary Metropolitan Opera star Nikolai Gedda.   The Ball was quickly sold out!   However, to the great consternation of the committee and Society, Mr. Gedda’s agent called on the night before the ball to announce that Mr. Gedda was indisposed and unfortunately could not come toCleveland.   (It later became known that Mr. Gedda could never say no and consequently often double-booked).Quite often local talent, as well as invited guests performed at the balls.  An incomplete list would include, Tatiana Barany, Lydia Karkut (nee Golik), Galina Tarakanova and the Cleveland Russian Youth Groups, both past and present.

2009 Entertainment Committee

In 2009, at the request of the committee, the youth group took full responsibility for the entertainment portion of the ball and amazed the guests with an impressive and beautiful performance which included a talk about Tatiana’s Day given by Irina Wobster, a fashion show of Russian Costumes which was organized by Anna Gogoua, a professional ballroom dancing exhibition organized by Uliana Shunevich, and folk songs performed by Anna Gogoua and Ivanna Stebelska.  These young ladies were joined by Yuliya Rodzianko, Natasha Troicky, and Galina Patronyk in a lively folk dance.  The young ladies were partnered in the fashion show and in the traditional polonaise by Vladimir and Andrei Rodzianko, Gregory & Vasilly Chistik, Ivan Bolozdynia and David Curry.  Darina Molkina created a photographic record of this memorable evening.

On January 25, 2013 the Society celebrates its fiftieth Tatiana Ball.  Over 200 guests are expected at the elegant dinner dance at St. Michael’s Woodside in Broadview Hts., Ohio.   This year the ball features the talented local group “Harmonia” who will entertain the guests during the dinner hour followed by dancing to the music of Fred Ziwich and the International Sound Machine.  The ball will open with the “Polonaise” a tradition instituted by Anna Troicky well over 10 years ago.  Each year brings a new twist to this elegant and stately dance.   This year also marks the 50th anniversary of the ever popular Miss Tatiana Pageant.

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