Ella Ilbak (12 XI 1895 – 8 VIII 1997) was a dancer and writer.
Ilbak was born in Karksi parish, Viljandi County. She attended primary schools and Pushkin Girls’ Gymnasium in Tartu. Thereafter, in 1915–1917, she studied at Isachenko School of Plastic Dance and Theatre and Sergei Volkonsky’s courses of Dalcroze eurhythmics in Petrograd. In 1919–1920, Ilbak continued her education at M. Rutkowska’s ballet studio, R. Duncan’s academy and Herbert’s school of acrobatics in Paris.
In the 1920s and 1930s Ella Ilbak performed in many Western European countries, also in Jerusalem and Haipha. In the years after World War II, Ilbak lived in France. In 1955, he settled in the United States. Ilbak’s last dance performance took place in New York in 1967. Later, she delivered lectures on aesthetics.
In her older age, encouraged by writer August Gailit, Ella Ilbak started to write down her memoirs. She has published three autobiographical prose works: the book of memoirs Otsekui hirv kisendab (‘As the Deer Cries’, 1953) and the novel dilogy Tuvi Malm (1955) and Kumisev kannel (‘The Ringing Zither’, 1966). The characteristic features of Ella Ilbak’s prose are the author’s feeling for beauty and polished style, detailed depiction of protagonists’ spiritual life and interest in philosophical and religious themes.
L. P. (Translated by I. A.)
Books in Estonian
Otsekui hirv kisendab.... Mälestusi ja tõekspidamisi. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1953, 286 lk. [Järgnevad trükid: 1990, 2009.]
Tuvi Malm. Lund: Eesti Kirjanike Kooperatiiv, 1955, 280 lk. [2. trükk: 2004.]
Kumisev kannel. New York: s.n., 1966, 185 lk. [2. trükk: 2006.]
Ella Ilbak, August Gailit, Kirjad 1952-1961. Koostanud Piret Noorhani. Tallinn: Tänapäev, 2009, 137 lk.