Choreographer Igor Moiseyev Dies at 101

Classic Arts News   Choreographer Igor Moiseyev Dies at 101
 
Igor Moiseyev, the experimental choreographer who founded Russia's most acclaimed and influential folk-dance company during Stalin's reign, died on November 2 of heart failure. He was 101.

Moiseyev, born in Kiev in 1906, was the only child of a Russian lawyer and French-Romanian seamstress. He studied from age 14 at the Bolshoi Ballet, where he became soloist in 1924. A member of the avant-garde that delved in bold dance forms, he was expelled from the company and began directing and producing his own work. Among the many ballets he created for the Bolshoi are The Footballer (1930), Salammbêä (1932) and Three Fat Men (1935).

Steadfastly modernist in spite of the artistic suppression of Socialist realism, Moiseyev was appointed dance director of the Moscow Theatre of Folk Art in 1936. Through his treks across the Caucasus and Ural Mountains, he grew determined to revive folk dancing; in 1937, he established Russia's first folk-dance troupe, known to Westerners as the Moiseyev Dance Company. The effort resulted in a revolutionary synthesis of classical ballet and ethnic dance. "With ballet technique as a base, one can do everything," he said in a 1970 interview.

Following the Second World War, Moiseyev broadened his choreography to include dances from Mongolia, Yugoslavia, Korea and China. His company became the first Soviet group to appear in the West after the war when it made its Paris debut in 1955; its first performances in London and New York (Metropolitan Opera House) followed.

In 1953, he was named a People's Artist of the USSR; in 1967, he was given the Lenin Prize in 1967. Last year, at his 100th birthday celebration attended by president Vladimir V. Putin, Moiseyev received Russia's highest civilian honor, the Order of Merit.

Moiseyev also pioneered the use of gymnastic maneuvers through his work, combing dance with acrobatics. Such techniques are still used in parades and celebrations worldwide.

The Moiseyev Dance Company continues under the directorship of Yelena Shcherbakova. Moiseyev is survived by his wife and daughter.

A funeral is planned for Wednesday, Shcherbakova told the ITAR-Tass agency.

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