Perhaps no performer at Lewisburg’s Carnegie Hall has arrived in Greenbrier County with as much pizzazz as did the prima ballerina Marina Svetlova in 1948.
She and her troupe landed at the Greenbrier Airport in Caldwell in a Grumman Mallard amphibian aircraft. The plane was piloted by Boris Sergievsky, famed World War I fighter pilot and holder of 18 world records for speed and altitude.
Born to Russian parents in Paris, Svetlova danced with the Original Ballet Russe, the Metropolitan Opera Ballet, Ballet Theatre, and the New York City Opera.
She died in 2009 at age 86.
Sergievsky joined the Russian Army in 1911 and transferred to the Russian Air Force where he was a squadron commander and shot down 11 German planes during World War I. After the Russian Revolution, he flew for the British Royal Air Force. He came to the United States in 1923 and became a test pilot for Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation.
Svetlova’s father had been Sergievsky’s superior officer in the Russian Air Force, and Igor Sikorsky, founder of Sikorsky Aircraft, had been a classmate of Sergievsky at the Polytechnic Institute in Kiev, Ukraine.
Photos: Wikipedia; Cover of Airplanes, Women and Song by Boris Sergievsky.
Sources: New York Times, Jacob’s Pillow Archives.