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History of Lithuania

The history of Lithuania dates back to settlements founded many thousands of years ago, but the first written record of the name for the country dates back to 1009 AD. Lithuanians, one of the Baltic peoples conquered neighboring lands and established the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 13th century; the Grand Duchy was a lasting warrior state. It was one of the last areas of Europe to adopt Christianity. A formidable power, it became the largest state in Europe in the 15th century through the conquest of large groups of East Slavs who resided in Ruthenia. In 1385, the Grand Duchy formed a dynastic union with Poland through the Union of Krewo; the Union of Lublin created the Polish–Lithuanian Commonwealth that lasted until 1795, when the last of the Partitions of Poland erased both Lithuania and Poland from the political map. Afterward, the Lithuanians lived under the rule of the Russian Empire until the 20th century. On February 16, 1918, Lithuania was re-established as a democratic state, it remained independent until the outset of World War II, when it was occupied by the Soviet Union under the terms of the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact.

Following a brief occupation by Nazi Germany after the Nazis waged war on the Soviet Union, Lithuania was again absorbed into the Soviet Union for nearly 50 years. In 1990–1991, Lithuania restored its sovereignty with the Act of the Re-Establishment of the State of Lithuania. Lithuania joined the NATO alliance in 2004 and the European Union as part of its enlargement in 2004; the first humans arrived on the territory of modern Lithuania in the second half of the 10th millennium BC after the glaciers receded at the end of the last glacial period. According to the historian Marija Gimbutas, these people came from two directions: the Jutland Peninsula and from present-day Poland, they brought two different cultures, as evidenced by the tools they used. They did not form stable settlements. In the 8th millennium BC, the climate became much warmer, forests developed; the inhabitants of what is now Lithuania traveled less and engaged in local hunting and fresh-water fishing. During the 6th–5th millennium BC, various animals were domesticated and dwellings became more sophisticated in order to shelter larger families.

Agriculture did not emerge until the 3rd millennium BC due to a harsh climate and terrain and a lack of suitable tools to cultivate the land. Crafts and trade started to form at this time. Speakers of North-Western Indo-European might have arrived with the Corded Ware culture around 3200/3100 BC; the first Lithuanian people were a branch of an ancient group known as the Balts. The main tribal divisions of the Balts were the West Baltic Old Prussians and Yotvingians, the East Baltic Lithuanians and Latvians; the Balts spoke forms of the Indo-European languages. Today, the only remaining Baltic nationalities are the Lithuanians and Latvians, but there were more Baltic groups or tribes in the past; some of these merged into Lithuanians and Latvians, while others no longer existed after they were conquered and assimilated by the State of the Teutonic Order. The Baltic tribes did not maintain close cultural or political contacts with the Roman Empire, but they did maintain trade contacts. Tacitus, in his study Germania, described the Aesti people, inhabitants of the south-eastern Baltic Sea shores who were Balts, around the year 97 AD.

The Western Balts became known to outside chroniclers first. Ptolemy in the 2nd century AD knew of the Galindians and Yotvingians, early medieval chroniclers mentioned Prussians and Semigallians. Lithuania, located along the lower and middle Neman River basin, comprised the culturally different regions of Samogitia, further east Aukštaitija, or Lithuania proper; the area was remote and unattractive to outsiders, including traders, which accounts for its separate linguistic and religious identity and delayed integration into general European patterns and trends. The Lithuanian language is considered to be conservative for its close connection to Indo-European roots, it is believed to have differentiated from the Latvian language, the most related existing language, around the 7th century. Traditional Lithuanian pagan customs and mythology, with many archaic elements, were long preserved. Rulers' bodies were cremated up until the conversion to Christianity: the descriptions of the cremation ceremonies of the grand dukes Algirdas and Kęstutis have survived.

The Lithuanian tribe is thought to have developed more recognizably toward the end of the first millennium. The first known reference to Lithuania as a nation comes from the Annals of the Quedlinburg monastery, dated March 9, 1009. In 1009, the missionary Bruno of Querfurt arrived in Lithuania and baptized the Lithuanian ruler "King Nethimer." From the 9th to the 11th centuries, coastal Balts were subjected to raids by the Vikings, the kings of Denmark collected tribute at times. During the 10–11th centuries, Lithuanian territories were among the lands paying tribute to Kievan Rus', Yaroslav the Wise was among the Ruthenian rulers who invaded Lithuania. From the mid-12th century, it was the Lithuanians. In 1183, Polotsk and Pskov were ravaged, the distant and powerful Novgorod Republic was threatened by the excursions from the emerging Lithuanian war machine toward the end of the 12th ce

Hélène Kirsova

Hélène Kirsova was a Danish ballerina and director who started the first professional ballet company in Australia. Kirsova was born in Copenhagen as Ellen Elisabeth Kiersten Wittrup. In Denmark, she received ballet training from Jenny Møller, she continued her studies in Paris with Olga Preobrajenska, Léo Staats, Lubov Egorova. She toured with various companies in the 1930s. Most notably, she was a founding member of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Kirsova toured to Australia as a principal artist in the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in 1936, she returned in 1938 to wed the Danish vice-consul Dr. Erik Fisher, living in Sydney, her company, the Kirsova Ballet, was based in Sydney and presented its first show in 1941. The Kirsova Ballet continued to present works on and off until 1944, when it folded due to war-time financial constraints and difficulty receiving backing from J. C. Williamson Theatres, which controlled Australian theatrical productions at the time. Hélène Kirsova's company did not last as long as Edouard Borovansky's As such, Kirsova is mentioned only in passing as Borovansky's failed rival.

Kirsova's school and company played an important role in exposing Australians to ballet. She dedicated profits from performances to establish a chain of children’s playgrounds in Sydney’s inner suburbs, namely - Kirsova Park 1 at 67 MacDonald St, Erskineville NSW 2043 - Kirsova Park 2 at 136-140 George St, Erskineville NSW 2043 - Kirsova Park 3 at Wigram Lane, Glebe NSW 2037 The set designer Loudon Sainthill worked with Kirsova in the early part of his career, she died in London in 1962, aged only 51. Biography at Australia Dancing Page at Australia Trove

Margaret Kelly (dancer)

Margaret Leibovici OBE, known as Miss Bluebell, was an Irish dancer, the founder of the Bluebell Girls dance troupe. Margaret Kelly was born in Dublin on 24 June 1910 at the Rotunda Hospital, she never knew her parents. An Irish priest entrusted her to a spinster who worked at home as a dressmaker. In 1916, following the Easter uprising, both moved to Liverpool, where, on the direction of a doctor, Kelly was registered in a dance class to strengthen her frail legs, it appeared that she had a great talent. At the age of 14, Kelly joined a Scottish dance troupe called the Hot Jocks. Nine months she was contracted to the Scala in Berlin by noted producer Alfred Jackson, manager of the Jackson Girls. Kelly remained at the Scala for 5 years. Beginning in 1930, Kelly danced in Paris for the Folies Bergère. In 1932, when she was 22, she created her own troupe. In 1939, she married Marcel Leibovici, a stateless Romanian Jew and composer at the Folies Bergère. During the Second World War, they had two sons: Francis.

Following the German occupation of Paris in 1940, now pregnant with Francis, was arrested by the French police and interned in Besançon. She was freed from custody by Count O'Kelly. However, in 1942, Marcel deported to the internment camp of Gurs; the French Resistance helped him flee to Gurs and return to Paris, where he was hidden by his wife opposite the Prefecture of Police building until the Liberation. During this time, Margaret ensured him security at the risk of her life. Suspected of protecting her husband, she was interrogated by the Gestapo, but in spite of intense questioning, Margaret succeeded in not divulging his whereabouts. François Truffaut's film The Last Metro is inspired by this event in the life of Margaret Kelly and her husband. After the war, Margaret began a fruitful collaboration with Donn Arden, the American choreographer and producer, to produce shows at the Paris Lido. While beginning with a modest contract in 1947, the Bluebell Girls became the sole stars of the Lido shows and gained notoriety locally and nationally.

Their shows were different from the others. Donn Arden's shows differentiated themselves from the others by the mixture of movement, colour and light in a kaleidoscope of impetuous rhythm. By the end of the 1950s, the Bluebell Girls had become an internationally recognized organization, their base in Paris was supplemented by what had become permanent troupes in Las Vegas, other nations in Europe, Africa, as well as eastern Asia. From 1947, Marcel Leibovici had entered in full partnership with his wife, managing the orchestral and financial side of her operation and, thanks to his considerable flair, had made the Bluebell Girls one of the most celebrated and prestigious dancing troupes in the world. Marcel was killed in a road accident in 1961; the disappearance of the motive force behind its commercial success could have marked the end of the Bluebell Girls. Margaret became wholly responsible for their four children: Patrick, Francis and Jean-Paul, kept the Bluebell's programme in steady operation increasing the number of troupes and activities by continually adding innovative new elements and artists.

One of her most noteworthy innovations was the introduction of the "topless" dancer in 1970. In 1986, Bluebell went into semi-retirement and left the Paris Lido, but she continued her global activities in Las Vegas with the MGM Grand Hotel; the Paris Lido bought her brand name Bluebell Girls to be allowed to continue its use in the shows. Miss Bluebell devoted a lot of her time and money for charities, but she was known from her exemplary attitude towards her handicapped granddaughter Alexandra. Bluebell had the therapeutic attitude not to exclude her, but to invite her every weekend to the posh restaurants and to have her admitted by her professional and social circle of acquaintances. Margaret Kelly was decorated Officer of the Order of the British Empire, Chevalier of the Legion of Honour for 72 years of professional activity as maîtresse de ballet, Chevalier des Arts et Lettres and Chevalier de l'Ordre National du Mérite. In 1986 the BBC broadcast a major drama series called Bluebell produced by Richard Bates, George Perry wrote her authorized biography.

Carolyn Pickles played her part. Both biography and BBC drama series were a global success, with the sole exception of France where there has been neither a broadcasting of the drama series nor a publishing of the biography. Within the framework of its mission to present the history of entertainment, the University of Nevada in Las Vegas is paying a permanent tribute to Miss Bluebell by showing photographs of her in its on-line exhibit of photos SHOWGIRLS and in the famous Donn Arden Special Collection, thus reuniting for the two partners who played such a signature role in the history of show business and contributed so much to the legend of the Bluebell Girls. In 1987, the British sculptor Doreen Kern realized Miss Bluebell's life-size bronze portrait bust, it was placed on her tomb.. On June 24, 2010, Bluebell Girls – but there were Kelly Boys Dancers - belonging to four generations and coming from around the world celebrated the first centenary of the birth of Miss Bluebell by meeting at the Lido de Paris.

At the end of the show, they joined the Bluebell Girls who had performed. Such is the popularity of Miss Bluebell and the lifes