(K. Brent Tomer),
IT IS rare enough for ballet to take a true story as its subject matter, rarer still for that storyline to be overtaken by the march of science. But such is the case of “Anastasia”, a ballet inspired by the curious case of Anna Anderson, a distressed young woman admitted to a Berlin mental asylum in 1920 after jumping off a bridge. Apparently unable to recall her own name, the woman was registered by the hospital as “Fräulein Unbekannt” (“Miss Unknown”). When another inmate claimed to recognise her as a Romanov princess, a fevered search for the woman’s true identity was triggered and became a decades-long cause célèbre.
The Grand Duchess Anastasia Romanov was the fourth and youngest daughter of Tsar Nicholas II, murdered alongside her parents and siblings by the Bolsheviks in 1918. Or was she? The possibility that she had escaped that fate seized the imagination of the popular press, fiercely dividing public opinion. Some, including members of the wider Romanov family, were desperate to draw a line under the grisly events of the Revolution and saw Anderson as a calculating impostor. Others believed, or perhaps hoped, that…Continue reading