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Like the young Petipa a century before, the young Mikhail Gorbaciov rose to power and “Perestroika” Anna

Grigorovich had the utmost respect for his foremost kicked in. “Glasnost”, the new transparency in pub- Nikulina,
predecessors, but had no qualms or fears about cre- lic life, was gaining ground after the sombre and gran- Denis Rodkin
ating new versions of old ballets so as to augment diose decades of Soviet politics and society: the very – Bolshoi
and enhance his own production. same decades, however, during which (and herein lies Ballet: “The
Grigorovich oeuvre can be divided into two major the paradox) Grigorovich’s oeuvre had come to the fore! Nutcracker”,
blocs: new ballets completely invented by him, and Apart from what has been said about the power- c. Yuri
his reconstructions of the great, so-called classical, fulness of his mass scenes, the choreographer’s style Grigorovich
repertory. To start with, the canon Tchaikovsky- is clearly recognisable, from his early ballets all the (ph. D.
Petipa/Ivanov trilogy: The Sleeping Beauty (1963 and way to his most recent works. What emerges, chiefly, Yusupov)
1973), The Nutcracker (1966) and Swan Lake (1969). is a deep “symphonic” intent, though this is always
It is noteworthy that in 1968 the prolific choreogra- and intrinsically danced and steers clear of descrip-
pher found the time to create his masterpiece tive mime, seeking instead an essentially rhythmic
Spartacus, which has become the flagship of the and musical form for each poetic expression.
Bolshoi Ballet, and that his first Beauty lasted 10 years To the aforementioned ballets, we can add Ivan the
before the definitive version was created – 10 years Terrible (at the Bolshoi in 1975 and at the Paris Opéra
of experiments, rehearsals, analyses and revisions to in 1976), Don Quixote (Copenhagen, 1982); Raymonda
hone a ballet that had already been created! – some- (1984), Giselle (1987); La Bayadère (1992); Le Corsaire
thing that appears unconceivable today and testifies (1994), in Moscow. 9 March 1995 is a date to re-
to the fact that Yuri Grigorovich is perhaps the last member: on that day Grigorovich left the theatre from
living example of an “encyclopaedic” (and at the same the artists’ exit, having been ousted from his post of
time “dynamic”) way of tackling the repertory seen ballet director; he re-entered the Bolshoi via the main
as a living and evolving, organism. entrance some years later, having been called in to save
His début as a choreographer took place at the Kirov the day and preserve the favour of the Muscovite pub-
in Leningrad in 1957 with The Stone Flower (in Mos- lic who were vociferously rooting for him.
cow in 1959) and in 1959 with The Legend of Love Yuri Grigorovich has been artistic director of the
(at the Bolshoi in 1961, reworked in 1982). The lat- Ballet Company of the Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow
ter’s success seemed paradoxically in contrast with the in different periods, from 1964 to 1995. He was suc-
Muscovite society of the day that was in ferment with ceeded by Vladimir Vasiliev, during the ensuing five
those ideas that were to prevail shortly afterwards when years (and for a short period the great dancer, a “living

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