Anna Aragno, Ph.D.
Ballerina, 1962 - 1983
Psychoanalyst & Author, 1986 - present
The New York Times
“Serene, eloquent, and gloriously musical”
Described early on as “Small but sharply honed, with a child-like but strong face, a classically refined technique, by temperament vivacious and modern,” Aragno went on to receive accolades from the press and international recognition for her technical ease and stylistic versatility in ballets by choreographers ranging from Fokine and Petipa, to Bournonville, Skibine, and Balanchine in the entire classical repertoire, and neo-classical modern choreographies.
Born in Rome, Italy, Anna Aragno began her professional training at the ‘Legat School’ in England, where, at age thirteen, she was acclaimed a child prodigy by the London Times for her performance of Giselle. Three years later, again in London, she performed the first full length three act ‘Raymonda’ to be seen in the west. Early recognition of her precocious talent and star qualities catapulted her to winning many medals, cups, and awards, in national competitions, as well as a scholarship to dance and apprentice at the Bolshoi Ballet, in Moscow (1964). Barely 18 she found herself dancing soloist parts at the Bolshoi Theatre and immense Palace of Congress at the Kremlin, in Giselle and Swan Lake, coached and praised by such legends as Lavrovsksy and Ulanova.
Brought to the United States, just a year later (1965), as recipient of a Fulbright Scholarship, she first performed before American audiences with the Metropolitan Opera Ballet (1966), under the auspices of Dame Alicia Markova, where she was rapidly promoted from soloist to principal ballerina performing leading roles during the last season in the old house and the first (1967) in the new theatre at Lincoln Center.
In 1968, A.Aragno began a series of guest appearances in the US led to a flourishing freelance career, performing the classical and neo-classical repertoire, spanning almost two decades. Originating with performances of “Ofelia’s mad Scene” an original piece created for her by choreographer L. Gay and composer M. Vavolo at the Spoleto Festival (1968 - 1969) under the auspices of A. Testa, this lyrical-dramatic 8-minute piece was performed widely on Italian and Swiss television. Aragno was among the first recipients of the “Premio Positano,” leading to an invitation from A. Milloss to dance the role of the princess in L’Enfant et les Sortilèges” at the Maggio Musicale in Florence (1970). Their followed invitations for concert appearances all over the US and Italy, television specials in Italy and Switzerland, and two seasons with the Ballet de Montecarlo, under the direction of M. Biesobrazova, where she was chosen by Rudolf Nureyev to dance with him in a tour that included performances in Montecarlo, Nice, Bologna and Florence. Nureyev later again called on her to cover for Dame Margot Fonteyn in their Broadway performances of Marguerite and Armand in New York.
At the Metropolitan, in New York, she had met her future husband, international opera singer bass-baritone Justino Diaz, a union from which two daughters were born, Natascia and Katya, and from which grew a profound familiarity with the Operatic repertoire.
Balancing motherhood and traveling she performed as guest artist partnering Edward Villella, with many major ballet companies, symphony orchestras, at national and international festivals, both throughout the US and abroad becoming known as the “virtuoso ballerina” of the freelance circuit. She has been acclaimed internationally for her technical brilliance, exceptional musicality, dramatic abilities, and grace, with such superlatives as “exquisite” “stunning” “flawless”, from “flashy” to “butterfly delicate;” “…a very graceful performance as Giselle”(US); “a ballerina with a highly polished, effortless technique”(San Juan); “spectacular virtuosity”… “wonderful acting” (USA); “masterful technique… Aragno is philosophical in the dance” (Bulgaria); “her jump is ebullient; leaps burst through the air, arms fullsome, expressive” (Dance Magazine, US); “...an exquisite dancer, a great actress..”(USA); “she made us live her character’s experience” (Mexico); “Aragno…shone in her lyrical interpretation of Giselle: her mad scene was very moving,…in the second act not only her dancing but her unusual acting ability gave the ballet the ambiance it demands” (Dance Magazine); “A dancer of particular grace” (the New Yorker)’ … “in ‘Ophelia’s madness’ we witnessed great mastery and marvelous interpretive artistry… a ballerina in the great tradition” (Bulgaria).
Her impressive list of partners, among some of the finest male dancers of the times, include Edward Villella, Helgi Tomasson, Ivan Nagy, Burton Taylor, Nils-Öke Haggbom (of Sweden), D.Burke, George de la Pena, and Robert Weiss, to name just a few. She has appeared on English, Italian, Swiss, and US television, starring with E. Villella in two dance specials, worked personally with choreographers like A. Tudor, F. Nault, L.Gay, A. Milloss, G. Skibine, performing original works in Festivals from Jacobs Pillow, Spoleto in Italy and Charleston USA, The Maggio Fiorentino, New York’s Central Park and Blossom Festivals: with orchestras including the New York Philharmonic under A. Kostelanetz, the Cleveland Orchestra, Buffalo Philharmonic, and Chicago Symphony (opening their Art Park), the Dallas, Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Houston, Detroit, Rochester, and Baltimore Symphony orchestras, under E. Kunzel, and with her husband, singing three Brahms songs, in the spectacular “Star Spangled Gala” at the Metropolitan Opera House benefit for the Lincoln Center Library, receiving such accolades as “effortless moves…one of the most beautiful dancers working today”, “a singular tour de force bordering on perfection.”
During the last several years of her career she became resident guest artist with the Baltimore Ballet with Helgi Thomasson, with whom she also danced in his native Reykjavik, Iceland several times. But for over a decade she was primarily Edward Villella’s regular partner performing most of the lyrical/classical ballerina repertoire as well as premiering some new works in the US. Together they opened the Dallas Symphony season in Ravels “Daphnis and Chloe,” choreographed by G. Skibine, and the Gala premier of Art Park (Chicago) in pieces by Cole Porter. Their concert tours have drawn gasps and standing ovations throughout America, their dancing hailed as “poetry in motion”. For their performances in ballets like Coppelia, The Nutcracker, and pas de deuxes from Balanchine’s Tchaikovsky pas de deux, Swan Lake Act II, and Le Corsaire, to Don Quixote, and Romeo and Juliet, they were reviewed as “beauty in strength, beauty in delicacy”, “Miss Aragno projected a softly glowing lyricism that acted as a warming counterfoil to Villella’s muscular fireworks”.
As part of a Gala evening, her final performance was in a “Russian Dance” choreographed for her by Alexander Minz, of the Kirov ballet, to a rarely played violin solo from Tchaikovsky’s full Swan Lake score.
During University studies for a PhD in Psychology leading to a definitive professional transition from ballerina to Psychoanalyst, Miss. Aragno travelled as guest teacher and invited Ballet Mistress and coach for the Eglevsky Ballet, as well as conducting a year-long comprehensive didactic seminar at The Lucy Moses School of the Arts, Kaufmann Center, NYC, entitled “All About Ballet”. There followed a period of intense study earning three requisite degrees in combination with psychoanalytic training to enter into a new profession, that of psychoanalyst, a move which lead to her publishing over thirty theoretical papers, several invited chapters, and two revisionary books on meta-theory, winning several Pep prizes and the coveted Gradiva Award for best published paper in 2020. She now presents at national and international conferences while maintaining a private practice in New York.
In 2015, she had the honor of being invited to become Patron of the Russian Ballet Society, in England, thereby bringing together her two professions, reconnecting her with her first great love, Ballet, and the Legat teachings and traditions to which she gratefully attributes most of her life’s achievements.
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Psychoanalytic Curriculum Vitae
Born: 1945, Rome, Italy
Educated in England; 1961 GCE, University of London.
La Sorbonne, Paris. 1962, French Literature
1963-1964: Winner Italian/USSR artist exchange program, Guest of Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow.
1965: Winner, Fulbright Scholarship to U.S.A.
1966-1982: Career as classical prima ballerina and international guest artist. Teacher, Ballet coach and lecturer. Taught one-year course at the Lucy Moses School of Music and Dance, NYC, entitled, “All about the Ballet.”
1982: Resumed academic studies in Psychology.
1983: B.A., Empire State College, Human Development.
1986: M.A., New School for Social Research, Graduate Faculty.
Metapsychology and Clinical Theory. Dr. A Wilson.
Behavioral Biology. Dr. M. Robert Sapolsky.
On Narrative. Dr. Jerome Bruner.
Master’s Thesis: “Language and Psychoanalysis”.
1984-1986: Two Hospital Internships: Payne Whitney Psychiatric Clinic, N.Y. Hospital, Cornell Medical Center, Marlboro State Hospital, NJ.
1991: Diploma in Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy, Washington Square Institute.
1992: Ph.D. in Psychoanalytic Psychology: The Union Institute.
Thesis Title: “Symbolization: Proposing a New Paradigm for a Psychoanalytic Model of Psychic Transformation.”
1995: Diploma in the Supervision of the Psychoanalytic Process: Post Graduate Center. NYC.
1987—to present; Private Practice specializing in the treatment of creative and performing artists. (NY State License # 000212)
2018: Appointed “Distinguished Scholar-in -Residence” at Washington Square Institute, New York City.
Workshops and Seminars: W.S.I; Revisiting Freud's Papers on Technique, 1911-1914. Working with the Difficult Patient: Guidelines
I.C.P., 1994: “Listening with the Third Ear: Exploring the Psychoanalytic Vision”
Invited Speaker: “Interpretation of a Painting: Picasso’s “Les Demoiselles d’Avignon”
November, 1992: Training Institute for Mental Health, New York City.
December, 1992: Washington Square Institute, New York City.
1993 NAAP, National Conference, New York City. Workshop: “Multiculturalism and Psychoanalysis: The Second Century.”
1993: Invited Panelist: Union Institute sponsored Seminar, Columbia University: “Psychoanalysis Revisioned.”
1994: Biennial Conference of New York University Postdoctoral Psychoanalytic Society, New York City: Paper presentation with Dr. Peter Schlachet, “The Accessibility of Early Experience through the Language of Origin.”
1995: Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association, 15th Spring Meeting, Santa Monica, California. Psychoanalysis: The Second Centennium. Book presentation: “Symbolization: Proposing a Developmental Paradigm for a New Psychoanalytic Theory of Mind.”
1998: Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association,18th Spring Meeting, Boston, MA, Meet the Author of; "Symbolization: Proposing a Developmental Paradigm for a New Psychoanalytic Theory of Mind.”
1999: Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association, 19th Spring Meeting, New York City, Book Presentation: Meet the author of “Forms of Knowledge: A Psychoanalytic Study of Human Communication.”
1999: Invited Speaker: “Psychoanalysis for the 21st Century: Proposals Toward a Unified Theory” Symposium sponsored by The Psychoanalytic Society of New England East, with C. Brenner and A. N. Shore. Boston, Mass., October 9th.
2001: Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the American Psychological Association, 21st Spring Meeting, Santa Fe, New Mexico Paper presentation; “The Psychoanalytic Study of Communication in Dyads and Groups”.
2002: Second Joint International Conference, Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. July 26th-28t.h Paper Presentation: “Transforming Mourning; A New Psychoanalitic Perspective on Bereavement”
2002: International Federation for Psychoanalytic Education. 13th Annual Interdisciplinary Conference, Fort Lauderdale, October 25th -27th Paper Presentation:“The Psychoanalytic Situation: A Semantic Space”.
2003: Journal of Psychoanalytic Psychology. Fifth International Conference. Charleston, S. Carolina, USA. April 23 -27 Book Presentation: “Symbolization: Proposing a Developmental Paradigm for a New Psychoanalytic Theory of Mind”.
2005: “Forms of Knowledge” a Conversation Hour for The American Group Psychotherapy Association. Sheraton New York Towers, March 7-12th, 2005
2005: Invited Speaker: “Artistry in Psychoanalytic Dialogues” Washington Square Institute. Scientific Lecture Series, May 26th
2005: Third Joint International Conference, Capetown, South Africa, August 5-7. “Word Power: A ‘Virtual’ Presentation Exploring the Impact of Language and Semantics on the Human Psyche.”
2007: Division of Psychoanalysis (39) of the APA, 27th Spring Meeting. Toronto, Ontario. Panel Chair: “Variations on the Theme of Empathy” with Drs. Jon Mills and Gilbert Cole. Paper Presentation: “The Language of Empathy” Conversation Hour: “What, exactly, is Artistic, in the Art of Psychoanalytic Dialogues?”
2007: Invited Presentation: “Letter to a Young Analyst; Reflections on the First Twenty Years.” Scientific Lecture Series. Washington Square Institute, November 29th, 2007
2008: Fourth Joint International Conference, Vancouver, Canada, July 25-26. Paper Presentation: “Infinite Yearnings, Finite Deeds; Reflections on the developmental Antecedents and Artistic solutions to Loneliness and Yearning.”
2009: 9th Biosemiotics Conference. Prague, Czech Rep., June 30th-July5th. Invited Presentation, “The Bio-semiotic Roots of Psychoanalytic Metapsychology.”
2010: Invited Speaker at NPAP and New School sponsored Theodor Reik Conference. New York, May 8th Paper: “Listening with a Third Ear, Second Heart, and Sixth Sense: Standing on the shoulders of Theodor Reik” (viewable at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ELW5dUH9aps)
2011: Invited Speaker, Post Graduate Society, Baruch University, NY April 30th “Revisioning Metapsychology”
2011: 11th Biosemiotic Conference, Rockefeller University, New York, June 22-25 Presentation: “The Marriage of Psychoanalytic Methodology and the Biosemiotic Agenda”
2012: 12th Biosemiotic Conference, Tartu University, Estonia, July, “The Phenomenology of Psychoanalytic Data: A Biosemiotic Approach.”
2013: Invited Keynote Speaker 37th Annual Scientific Conference, Washington Square Institute, NYC, May 19th, “The Devil Within: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Evil”
2014: Speaker, First International Conference in Code Biology, May 20-24th University of Paris, Descarte, France. “Dream Codes I: Background and Origins”.
2015: Speaker, Second International Conference in Code Biology, June 16-20th, Friedrich Schiller University, Jena, Germany. Dream Codes II. Deciphering the Language of the deep Unconscious.
2016: Invited Speaker: “Notes from a Meta-Theoretical Revisionist”, APsA Annual Winter Meeting, Waldorf Astoria NYC, January 13th-16th, Modern Ego Psychology, Discussion Group.
2016: Speaker, Third International Conference on Code Biology, May 24-28th, University of Urbino, Italy. “Dream Codes III. Meaning’s Vessel: Metaphor, the Matter of Mind.”
2017: Speaker, Fourth International Conference on Code Biology, May 22-26th, Institute of Advanced Studies, Köszeg, Hungary. “Dream Codes IV. Cradle of meanings, Origins of Thought: The Dream as Research Vehicle.”
2018: Invited Panel: Dreams and the Ego. APsA Annual Winter Meeting, The Hilton NYC. February, 12th-15th. Modern Ego Psychology Discussion Group, Feb. 14th
2018: Invited Speaker: The Parallel Process; An Experiential and Theoretical Exploration. Scientific Meeting Series, Washington Square Institute, NYC, Scientific meeting April 19th.
20018: Speaker, Fifth International Conference on Code Biology. June 5-9th, Universidad de Granada, Spain. Joint presentation with Prof. Tullio Rizzini, MD. “The Embodied Origins of Linguistic Codes and Psychoanalysis.”
2019: Invited Speaker: Re-visioning Metapsychology, Part I. and II Scientific Meetings Series, Washington Square Institute, NYC, April 25th.
2019: Speaker: Sixth International Conference on Code Biology. June 3-7, Friedrichsdorf, Germany. “With Body in Mind; Embodied Language.”
2021; Invited Key Note speaker: Seventh International Conference. Zagreb, Croatia, The Embodied Dialogue.
Artist Exchange Award, Italy/USSR. Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow 1963-64
Fulbright Scholarship to US, 1965.
Post Graduate Center, 1998.The Florence Rondell Memorial Award. ‘Die so that I may Live!’ Best paper on Adolescence
Finalist for 2009 Goethe Award; 2 Books, ‘Symbolization’ and ‘Forms of Knowledge’ .
PEP Author Prize 2010 and 2011
Nominated for NAAP Gradiva Award, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2018, 2019
Winner of NAAP Gradiva Award 2020, ‘Semiotic Realms: Codes, Language, Mind. A Psychoanalytic Perspective’. BioSystems,Vol.182, pp 21-29 Special Issue II
Affiliations: Distinguished Scholar in Residence,WSI, until 2021. Psychoanalytic Member, NAAP. NYS License: 000121
Languages: English, Italian, English, French, Russian, Spanish.
1989: “Clinical Vignette,” Notes and Comments. New York: Washington Square Institute.
1990: “A New Look at Lacan,” Notes and Comments. New York: Washington Square Institute.
1990: Book Review: “Psychodynamic Psychotherapy of Borderline Patients” Otto Kernberg, Group, 14(3), Fall 1990, 183-185.
1991: “Master of His Universe: A Psycho-portrait of Saddam Hussein,” Journal of Psychohistory, 19(1): 97-108.
1993: Book Review: “Oedipus and Beyond: A Clinical Theory” by Jay Greenberg. Group 17(2), 115-118.
1994: Paper: “The Psychoanalytic Interpretation of a Painting: Picasso’s Les Demoiselle d’ Avignon,” Issues in Psychoanalytic Psychology, March, 16(1).
1995: “The Accessibility of Early Experience through the Language of Origin,” Aragno A. & Schlachet, P.J. Psychoanalytic Psychology 13 (1), 23-34.
1995: Book Review; “Psychoanalysis: Toward the Second Century.” Edited by Arnold M. Cooper, Group, 19(3), 189-191.
1997: Book: Symbolization: Proposing a Developmental Paradigm for a New Psychoanalytic Theory of Mind. Madison, CT: International Universities Press.
1998: Chapter: “Die So That I May Live! A Psychoanalytic Essay on the Adolescent Girl’s Struggle To Delimit Her Identity”. In Fenchel, G. (Editor) The Mother Daughter Relationship. New Jersey: Jason Aronson. pp, 84 -148.
2003: “Aragno on Target: A Response”. JAPA, Vol. 51 Issue #2 p 730-735
2003: Paper: “Transforming Mourning: A New Psychoanalytic Perspective on the Bereavement Process”. Psychoanalysis and Contemporary Thought, Vol. 26 Issue #4
2005: Article: “The Witch’s Tale: Psychoanalytic Method, Methodology and Metapsychology”. Psychologist-Psychoanalyst, Winter, 2005.
2005: Article: “Phantom Willow: A Springtime Reverie on the nature of Memory and Anniversary Reactions.” Psychologist –Psychoanalyst, Spring, 2005
2005: Book Review Essay: “The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved form our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans” by S.I. Greenspan & S.G Shanker, DaCapo Press 2005. Issues in Psychoanalytic Psychology.Vol.27, No.1
2005: Book Review: “Woman’s Inhumanity to Woman” Phylllis Chesler. The American Journal of Psychoanalysis. Vol. 65 No. 2 June 2005
2005: Book Review: “The First Idea: How Symbols, Language, and Intelligence Evolved from our Primate Ancestors to Modern Humans” by S.I.Greenspan& S.G.Shanker, DaCapo Press 2005. The Psychoanalytic Quarterly Vol. 74 No .4
2005: Article: “Googled! On Hiding in the Age of Public Disclosure.” Psychologist-Psychoanalyst. Fall 2005
2006: Paper: “What, exactly, is Artistic in the Art of psychoanalytic Dialogues?” Issues in Psychoanalytic Psychology. Vol.28, No.2.pp.123-138
2007: “Transforming Mourning: A New Psychoanalytic Perspective” in, On Death and Endings: Psychoanalysts’ Reflections on Finality, Transformations and New Beginnings. Eds, Brent Willock, Lori, C.Bohm, and Rebecca C.Curtis. London, New York; Routledge. pp 21-41.
2007: “Letter to a Young Analyst: Reflections on the First Twenty Years.” Issues in Psychoanalytic Psychology.
2008: The Language of Empathy: An Analysis of its Constitution, Development, and Role in Psychoanalytic Listening. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association.53/3
2008: Book: Forms of Knowledge: A Psychoanalytic Study of Human Communication. Baltimore, MD: First edition
2009: Invited Paper: “Meaning’s Vessel: A Metapsychological Understanding of Metaphor.” Psychoanalytic Inquiry Vol. 2, (1) pp. 30-47
2009: The Bio-semiotic Roots of Psychoanalytic Metapsychology. Online, July10th, Internationalpsychoanalysis.com
2010: The Bio-semiotic Roots of Metapsychology. Biosemotics. 3:57-77
2010: Invited paper: “It Takes a Village. WSI: A personal Tribute and Appreciation.” Issues in Psychoanalytic Psychology.Vol,32. No’s 1&2, pp.1-15
2011: Morphic Echoes: Dream-Telepathy in Psychoanalytic Situations: Inquiry and Hypothesis. Internationalpsychoanalysis Online, February 2011
2011: Invited paper: “Listening with a Third Ear, a Second Heart, and a Sixth Sense: Standing on the Shoulders of Theodor Reik.” Special Issue of The Psychoanalytic Review. Vol.98 (2)183-204.
2011: “Silent Cries, Dancing Tears: Metapsychology of Art: Revisited, Revised”. Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association, Special Centennial Issue, Vol. 59(2):239-288
2011: Book Review: “Essential Readings in Biosemiotics: Anthology and Commentary” D. Favareau” Journal of the American Psychoanalytic Association,59 (4)
2011: “The Marriage of Psychoanalytic Methodology with the Biosemiotic Agenda” Biosemiotics. (DO1-1007/s12304-011-9124-2 July 3) Printed: 2012 Vol. 5(2) pp 247-267
2011: Book Review: “Essential Readings in Biosemiotics: Anthology and Commentary” D. Favareau, Signs Vol. (5)2011, pp 71-74
2011: “The Mind’s Farthest Reach.” Signs 5 (2011); 29-70
2013: “Phenomenology of Psychoanalytic Data: A Biosemiotic Framework”. Biosemiotics Vol .6 Issue (3) pp.473-488 (DOI 10.1007/s12304-012-9160-6)2012
2013: Invited paper; “The Devil Within: A Psychoanalytic Perspective on Evil” Issues in Psychoanalytic Psychology Vol.35, pp101-12
2013: “Morphic Echoes: Dream Telepathy in Psychoanalysis: An Explanatory Hypothesis”. The Journal of Nonlocality, Vol. II, no. 1. June 2013, pp 1-26
2013: Invited paper; “The Stuff of Dreams….A Psychoanalytic Exploration of the Bio-semiotic Origins of Mind The International Journal of the Humanities: Annual Review. Volume 11 pp.13-34
2014: “The Roots of Evil: A Psychoanalytic Inquiry” Psychoanalytic Review Vol. 101 (2), pp 249- 288
2014: Invited review; Metaphor and Fields: Common Ground, Common Language, and the Future of Psychoanalysis edited by Montana Katz, Routledge, New York and London, 2013; 244 pp; The International Journal of Psychoanalysis. doi: 10.1111/1745-8315.12197
2016: Symbolization: A revised Psychoanalytic General Model of Mind, New York, International Psychoanalytic Book (IPB)
2016: Forms of Knowledge: A Psychoanalytic Study of Human Communication, New York, International Psychoanalytic Books (IPB)
2017: Crossings A collection of short stories (fiction) AH press
2018: “The Parallel Process: An Experiential and Theoretical Exploration.” Issues in Psychoanalytic Psychology Vol 40, pp.71-94.
2019: Invited Paper: Semiotic Realms: Codes, Mind, Language. A Psychoanalytic Perspective. BioSystems,Vol.182, pp 21-29 Special Issue II, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biosystems.2019.04.011 pp1-9
2021: Listening in the Time of the Plague. Annals of Short Reports February 19th
2021: An Analyst’s Snapshot of Covid Era Sessions. American Journal of Clinical Case Reports (ISSN 2766-5844)
2021: Invited paper: A Revised Psychoanalytic Model of Mind and Communication. Studies in Body-Mind Continuity in Psychoanalysis and the Mind-Body Problem. Philosophy & Psychoanalysis series, Ed. Jon Mills, Routledge…in press
2021: Invited commentary; A Call to Action. Systems, Action, and Society: Psychoanalytic Studies and Practices. Vol.1.No.1. ISSN 2035-4630, pp 59-68 DOI.org.32111.2021,1.1.6.