Elsa Krüger

Elsa Krüger (Elsa Krueger; in Russian Эльза Крюгер, full name in Russian Елизавета Эмильевна Крюгер, Yelizaveta Krüger) was a dancer, a friend of famous painter Alexandra Exter and an actress who starred in one of best movies of Russian empire – “Silent Witnesses” directed by Yevgeny Bauer (1914). But there’s not much info about her online, and even wikipedia doesn’t mention her.

Elsa Kruger queen of tango

Photo of Elsa Krüger.

She was born circa 1893 in Russian empire, her father was of Holland origin, and the mother was Russian. Elsa studied at a ballet school and about 1913 started to perform at one of Moscow theatres with modern dances. Soon she is a star and is named “queen of tango”.

Kruger Russ emp postcard04 1915 Kruger Russ emp postcard01 Kruger Russ emp postcard02 Kruger Russ emp postcard03 Kruger Rus emp postcard6 Kruger Rus emp postcard5

Elsa Krüger on varoius postcards issued in Russian empire.

She’s also starred in few movies, and one of them is “Silent Witnesses”, where Elsa splendidly played an aristocratic young woman who’s in love with one man, but he cannot marry her, and she must marry another man whom she doesn’t love (and who is loved by a little maid, her rival). The director Bauer wanted to make a silent movie without any captions, but at private views the audience didn’t like the innovation, and some captions were added.

In this movie Elsa is wearing beautiful costumes (possibly designed by Lamanova, one of best Russian designers).

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I like the most this dress:

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And this is possibly la jupe-culotte, but I’m not sure:

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Meanwhile she has many friends among painters, and I. Meksin made a stunning picture of her:

Meksin Portrait of Elsa Kruger 1917

I. Meksin. Portrait of Elsa Krüger (1917).

After the revolution of 1917 she leaves Moskow and moves to Odessa, later (in 1920) to Berlin. Her relationship with a very rich businessman helped her to open Russian Romantic Ballet Theatre in Berlin (“Russische romantische Ballett”). Her photos also appear on numerous cards and postcards (see some of them here).

A scan of theatre programme is here (in Italian, pdf). It includes pages with some details about Elsa and her ballet.

Painter Alexandra Exter designed costumes for her and her dancers:

Exter Design costume Dances of Elsa Kruger 1920

Alexandra Exter. Costume design for “Dances of Elsa Krüger”, 1920.

Exter also decorated her Berlin home, made paintings and statuettes. One of these statuettes is now in National Gallery of Australia:

Exter-Costume model of a Martian guard for the film Aelita-belonged to Elsa K-now in Nat Gall of Australia

Alexanrda Exter. Costume model of a martian guard for the film “Aelita” that belonged to Elsa Krüger.

In 30s Elsa was back to cinema and starred in 2 movies, but I didn’t see them.

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Photos of Elsa Krüger.

Alexandra Exter died in 1949 in misery, so it’s possible that Elsa Krüger didn’t survive the war. She reportedly died in 1941 in Germany.

Elsa Kruger Russian autograph

Postcard signed by Elsa Krüger (in Russian).

Elsa Krüger was also linked to the painter Paul Mak (1891-1967), who also was a tango dancer and her partner in Moscow theatre.

Paul Mak Tristan and Izolde Paul Mak Chevalier Paul Mak sheherezada_i_pavlin_1924

Paintings and pictures by Paul Mak.

Pictures found via google, some via yandex.