During World War II, a young Soviet female traffic regular outside the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin became famous for her dancing. While Lydia Spivak has since passed away, Maria Limanskaya is still alive and well at 98! Although sometimes referred to as Anna Pavlova, viewers of Dr Mark Felton’s documentary works have come to better understand why. Let’s take a moment to explore this fascinating story of the Brandenburg Gate ballerina.

The Life of Lydia Spivak
Lydia Spivak was born in Ukraine in 1924. She was just 21 years old when she became a Soviet soldier during World War II and was thrown into an unbelievably difficult task—the capture of Berlin. As one of the few female soldiers who were part of the battle for Berlin, she quickly gained attention for her poise and courage on the battlefield. But it wasn’t until May 1945 that she would become a star. That month, as Soviet forces marched towards the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, Spivak grabbed her rifle and began dancing on top of tanks alongside her fellow soldiers celebrating their victory over Nazi Germany.

Her performance was captured on film by a cameraman named Anatoly Aronov and immediately went viral around the world. People were so taken with her grace and beauty that they compared her to Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. The footage has since been included in countless documentaries, including Dr Mark Felton’s recent work which helped viewers better understand why she was being referred to as Anna Pavlova in some circles.
Tragically, Spivak died young at only 37 years old due to complications from an illness she had contracted during combat at Berlin. It is both heartbreaking and inspiring to think about how much courage it took for such a young woman at such a difficult time to be able to perform like this on camera for all eternity.

Maria Limanskaya – The Inspiration Behind It All
The person responsible for inspiring this iconic moment was actually Maria Limanskaya—a Ukrainian dance teacher who had been teaching Spivak since she was 15 years old! At 98 years old today, Limanskaya is still alive and kicking! In fact, many believe that it was Limanskaya’s expertise and training that enabled Spivak to perform with such grace under such intense pressure on camera back in 1945. When asked about her student’s performance after watching the footage decades later, Limansky said “she danced so beautifully even though there were bullets flying around them… I’m proud of Lydia.”

It is clear that Lydia Spivak will never be forgotten thanks to her incredible performance outside the Brandenburg Gate during World War II—a performance inspired by none other than Maria Limanskya herself! Even though we sadly lost Lydia too soon due solely to illness from wartime conditions, we can take comfort knowing that Maria is still alive and well today at 98 years old! This truly is an amazing story about two strong women who overcame immense odds during one of the most difficult times in history—a story worthy of being remembered forevermore!