Magazine article Dance Magazine

Celebrating Grigorovich's 80th

Magazine article Dance Magazine

Celebrating Grigorovich's 80th

Article excerpt

In an unstable Russian ballet world, Yuri Nikolaevich Grigorovich's legacy preserves the richness of the art. The choreographer, widely associated with the renaissance of Russian ballet, turns 80 on January 2. In celebration, the Bolshoi has designated January 2-9 "Grigorovich Week," and the company will perform seven of his ballets, including The Golden Age, Spartacus, and The Legend of Love. The Kremlin Ballet Theatre will also show two of his ballets: Ivan the Terrible and Romeo and Juliet.

Grigorovich was born in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg) and studied at the Leningrad Choreographic School with Boris Shavrov, Alexei Pisarev, and Fyodor Lopukhov, among others. After graduating in 1946, he joined the Kirov Ballet. An expressive virtuoso with a big jump, he danced many character and folkloric solos. The first ballets that he staged, Prokofiev's The Stone Flower in 1957 and Melikov's The Legend of Love in 1961, both premiered at the Kirov. But it was the Bolshoi productions that made Grigorovich famous, ushering in a new era of Russian ballet.

Grigorovich was artistic director and chief choreographer of the Bolshoi Ballet from 1964 to 1995, a period that was hailed as the golden age of the company. Touring often during these three decades, the Bolshoi's brilliant galaxy of soloists--including Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya, Vladimir Vasiliev, and Ekaterina Maximova--became world famous.

His ballets revived the neoclassical tradition begun in Russia by Lopukhov: classical ballet, complicated, modernized, and enriched by mime (as opposed to having separate mime scenes carry the narrative). …

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