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Yuri Grigorovich has received hundreds of prizes in Russia and all over the world and has himself

founded
one, the purpose of which is to recognise or draw attention to engaging personalities of the year: the
famous Prix Benois de la Danse (named for the legendary Ballets Russes designer). Founded in 1992, the
Prix subsequently took up residence at the Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow where, on 31 May, it will be cel-
ebrating its 25th birthday. From the very start – and to this day – Grigorovich (who is President of the
Prix and of the jury of international artists) has been aided by Regina Nikiforova (Director General) and
Nina Kudriavtseva Loory (Artistic Director).
Born in Moscow and Bolshoi School-trained, Nina Kudriavtseva was herself a dancer and, later, chief of
the repertoire planning department of the Bolshoi. She became Mrs Loory when she married well-known
American journalist Stuart Loory (who passed away recently) and now lives in New York; however, she
continues to collaborate with Grigorovich, especially on the Prix Benois.
We asked her to tell us about this reserved artist whose image is hardly an exuberant one at a human
level…
N.L. – Yuri Grigorovich was my director, at the Bolshoi, until 1983. Towards me, as towards everyone
(from the principal dancers to the humblest of technicians, he was a stern director: impatient, highly de- Nina Kudriavtseva Loory
manding when it came to anything regarding the staging of his ballets. But on the artistic plane, as a (ph. F. Levieux)
choreographer, his authority and qualities were so huge and evident that we all had immense admiration
and respect for him and this made us accept his authority gladly.
A.A. – Was he perhaps so precise because of the grand overall structure of his choreographies?
NL. – Of course: the strength of Grigorovich’s ballets lies in their construction; he was masterful in directing the ‘ensembles’, yet not in
a mechanical way but, rather, with a sense for contrasts and with a very clear and deep musicality, indeed I would say a symphonic
musicality, always on a grand scale. There are several musical choreographers, but not on such a scale. He created big paintings in
dance, precisely in the sense of “grands tableaux”.
A.A. – How did the company react when he was ousted from the directorship in 1995 and, subsequently, when he returned, years later,
to restage his ballets?
N.L. – That was a highly controversial period. But I can say that when he returned he was welcomed with deep respect. His artistic
personality and prestige were unquestionable. When Alexei Ratmansky arrived for the first time as a choreographer he was almost a little
jealous of this sentiment everyone still had for Grigorovich; one would feel a special aura when he would enter the rehearsal studio…
A.A. – It is notorious that Grigorovich has also had sworn enemies. Once I myself was speaking in public with Maya Plisetskaya who
calmly said that she hated only one man in the world, that man being Yuri Grigorovich. Could this have also been on account of the
artistic privileges accorded to Natalia Bessmertnova who was a great ballerina, but also his wife?
N.L. – Certainly, Bessmertnova really was the prima ballerina, not only on merit and according to the hierarchy, but because she was the
choreographer’s muse and favourite interpreter. Obviously the other principal dancers of the company weren’t happy about it! But I
must say that Natasha always behaved properly
and graciously within the company.
A.A. –Grigorovich is ninety now and you are still
working closely with him on the Prix Benois.
N.L. – Yes, Regina Nikiforova and I have been
working with him for 25 years on the ‘Benois’
which is not a competition but, rather, a career
prize for artists. All the “nominations” are as-
sessed on the basis of videos. Grigorovich per-
sonally supervises the programmes of the vari-
ous galas and the key prize-giving moments. One
can definitely say that his is an entire lifetime, a
vital liveliness, dedicated to dance.

Yuri Grigorovich, Vladimir Vasiliev and
Ekaterina Maximova in rehearsal during the
creation of “Spartacus”, Moscow 1968
(photo from Vladimir Vasiliev’s collection)

legend” of the Bolshoi, was also the Bolshoi Thea- Vaziev, sitting on the same throne that Grigorovich
tre’s intendant), and then by Boris Akimov, chore- had sat on for thirty years, declared that: “The So-
ographer Alexei Ratmansky, Yuri Burlaka and Sergei viet era is over; we must move forward, preserving
Filin who was in office until the appointment (in 2016) however from said era that which was well done and
of Makhar Vaziev. (Vaziev had been artistic director is still of value today.” Evidently, also in Vaziev’s
of the Mariinsky Ballet of St Petersburg and, after- eyes the work of his (by now) distant predecessor
wards, of the Ballet Company of La Scala, Milan). comes under ‘that which was well done’ and, above
In an interview last year to The Financial Times all, ‘is still of value’. Vaziev added: “When it comes

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