Wednesday, November 21, 2012

My Georgia: Tamara Toumanova (Tumanishvili)

Tamara Toumanova, via
Edit:  I have been meaning to tell you about Tamara Toumanova for almost two years now.  Unfortunately, I kept running into problems like lack of information about Tamara's life, and even contradicting information from different sources.  As fate would have it, a few weeks ago I accidentally stumbled upon the NY Times article mentioning the name of a Georgian teenager, Tamara George Pkhakadze.  Tamara Toumanova's uncle, Zakaria Tumanishvili, is Pkhakadze's great-grandfather.  I decided to contact the little Georgian via Facebook and was given wealth of information about Toumanova.  The post below is based on several  sources.  Still some statements may be unclear or inaccurate.  I am so happy to inform you that there is a thorough research being done by the Pkhakadze family to clarify the "mystery" behind Tamara's origin and to provide more in-depth view into her life.  I'm sure you would agree Tamara Toumanova deserves such treatment. 

Tamara Toumanova was a prominent American ballerina and actress.  While scholars do not agree about the indentity of her biological father* (either Konstantin Zakharov or Vladimir Khassidovitch), we know Tamara's mother was Georgian Princess Euginia Tumanishvili (she gave Tamara her last name) who had to flee Georgia after the Russian Revolution.  Tamara was born on a train March 2, 1919 while her mother was trying to get to China through Siberia.  From China the mother and the baby moved to Cairo, Egypt and later to Paris, France.  They moved to the U.S. in 1937. 
George Balanchine saw young Tamara in ballet class and engaged her for de Basil’s Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as one of the three “baby ballerinas”.  Balanchine created the role of the “Young Girl” for Toumanova in his ballet Cotillon and had her star in his Concurrence and Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme.  She came to be called “The Black Pearl of the Russian Ballet”, because, as A. V. Coton wrote, “she was the loveliest creature in the history of the ballet”, with black silky hair, deep brown eyes and pale almond skin.

In the U.S. Tamara appeared in the following movies:

Spanish Fiesta (as Gypsy Fortune Teller), 1942
Days of Glory (as Nina), 1944 (Starring with Gregory Peck, this is his debut film)
Tonight We Sing (as Anna Pavlova), 1953
Deep in My Heart (as Gaby Deslys), 1954
Invitation to the Dance (as The Girl on the Stairs in "Ring Around the Rosy"), 1956
Torn Curtain (as Ballerina), 1966 (Alfred Hitchcock movie starring Paul Newman and Julie Andrews)
The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes (as Madame Petrova), 1970
Billy Wilder TV documentary (as herself), 1970
That's Dancing! documentary as herself (film clip), 1985

Tamara Toumanova died in 1996 in Santa Monica, California and was buried next to her mother at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Tamara Toumanova, via

Toumanova in her dressing room, via

Tamara Toumanova. La Esmeralda. via

Tamara Toumanova and Gregory Peck starring in Days of Glory, via

Joseph Cornell, Untitled (Marine Fantasy with Tamara Toumanova), early 1940s, via

Make sure you watch Toumanova and Gene Kelly's mesmerizing performance in this YouTube clip from Invitation to the Dance.  I can watch this over and over without getting bored.  And who said wearing pink and red together is a modern invention?!

Other sources for the related info: Tamara Toumanova (Tumanishvili) Facebook page
NYTimes article by Toni Bentley
NYTimes article by Jack Anderson
Toumanova on Mubi

*There is a research being done in Georgia to prove that Tamara's biological father was Konstanit Zakharov who died while fleeing Georgia.  Vladimir Khassidovitch was Tamara's step-father and for legal purposes he claimed Tamara to be his daughter upon their arrival to the U.S. 

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Updated Wooden Star

I had updated my wooden star from the previous post with some berry vines I found in the park .  To make the star you'll need five fairly straight sticks and jute twine to tie the sticks.  I tried hanging my new Earthy decoration in different spots outside and even inside.  I think first photo is my favorite.

front porch

front porch wall

as a window "wreath"

inside, against the kitchen wall (the jute twine ball in the photo is also DIY)

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

DIY: Wooden Stick Star Window "Wreath"

DIY wooden stick star as a holiday window "wreath" (can you see my son mischievously peeking through the shutters?)

I was so inspired by the photo below that I had to make my own.  DIY instructions and better pictures coming soon.  The image  below is from Wabi Sabi blog.  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Happy Halloween

Cordell went as a Baseball Player (LA Dodgers), Nina was a Flapper Girl wearing a dress her great-grandmother made for her aunt years ago.  Louie (out puppy) was Dracula.  I made his cape and the golden pendant. 

Every Fall around this time I make The Cheesecake Factory Pumpkin Cheesecake.  The photo below is not mine.  Somehow pictures of my cheesecake never come out right, but it sure tastes delicious!

photo source
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
5 tablespoons butter, melted
1 cup sugar, plus
1 tablespoon sugar
3 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup canned pumpkin
3 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon allspice
whipped cream


1 Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
2 Make the crust by combining the graham cracker crumbs with the melted butter and 1 T sugar in a medium bowl.
3 Stir well enough to coat all of the crumbs with the butter, but not so much as to turn the mixture into paste.
4 Keep it crumbly.
5 Put foil partway up the outside part of an 8-inch springform pan.
6 Press the crumbs onto the bottom and about two-thirds of the way up the sides of the springform pan.
7 You don't want the crust to form all of the way up the back of each slice of cheesecake.
8 Bake the crust for 5 minutes, then set aside until you are ready to fill it.
9 In a large mixing bowl combine the cream cheese, 1 C sugar, and vanilla.
10 Mix with an electric mixer until smooth.
11 Add the pumpkin, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg and allspice and continue beating until smooth and creamy.
12 Pour the filling into the pan.
13 Bake for 60-70 minutes.
14 The top will turn a bit darker at this point.
15 Remove from the oven and allow the cheesecake to cool.
16 When the cheesecake has come to room temperature, put it into the refrigerator.
17 When the cheesecake has chilled, remove the pan sides and cut the cake into 8 equal pieces.
18 Serve with a generous portion of whipped cream on top.

Recipe from food dot com.


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