Maestro Igor Moiseyev (Artistic Director)|
Igor Alexandrovich Moiseyev — "one of the greatest choreographers in
20th-century dance” (Anna Kisselgoff, The New York Times) — was born of
Ukrainian parentage in Kiev in 1906.
A few months later Moiseyev’s father, an attorney, moved the family to Paris
where the boy passed the first seven years of his life, becoming bilingual.
His mother, a seamstress, added to the family income by sewing costumes for
productions at the Theatre Chatelet, a circumstance which may have stimulated an
early interest in the arts of drama and dance.
He and his family returned to the Soviet Union in 1914, living first in
Poltava in the Ukraine.
There, the legendary villages of Dikanka and Sorochinsty became real to the
young Moiseyev, and the festivals, fairs, and dances he witnessed became vivid,
Mr. Moiseyev later described it as "a kind of unconscious gravitation I felt
all throughout my life.”
A year later the Moiseyev family settled in Moscow.
There, Moiseyev enrolled in a Gymnasium where he concentrated on painting,
poetry and sports.
At age twelve he began his ballet training at a well known private school
headed by Vera Moslova.
After seeing his first Bolshoi Ballet performance two years later, his career
Moslova recognized his talent and brought him to the Bolshoi School where,
out of one hundred applicants, only he and Asaf Messerer (who was destined to
glorify his own name in Russian ballet) were chosen.
At 18, Moiseyev graduated from the Bolshoi School of Choreography, joined the
Bolshoi Ballet, and gradually rose to the status of principal dancer.
His most famous roles included Raoul in "Theolinde,” Joseph in "Joseph the
Beautiful,” the Phoenix in "The Red Poppy” and leading roles in the standard
But choreography had become his chief passion.
He created new productions for the Bolshoi, among them "Salammbo,” in which
he danced the leading role of Matho, "Three Fat Men,” and "The Football
Even the most conservative members of the dance world, opponents of his
departures from the strict programming of classical ballet, hailed him for his
great choreographic inventiveness and his dazzling theatrical form.
It was during this period also that he established his reputation as a
scholar of all aspects of Russian folklore.
Moiseyev was appointed Ballet Master at the Bolshoi Theatre.
Shortly after, he was asked to organize a festival of national dance, and he
thus began the work that would ultimately be recognized as one of the greatest
artistic contributions to the dance world.
The festival’s success inspired him to form the state ensemble of folk dance
now identified internationally with his name—The Moiseyev Dance Company.
Since giving its first performance in 1938, the company has toured over sixty
countries and is internationally recognized as the premier folk dance company in
Just as famous today are the signature dances he choreographed for his
ensemble, which include the Ukrainian "Gopak,” the soccer-inspired "Football
Players,” and "Summer.”
Moiseyev wonnumerous awards for his artistic contributions to world culture.
He was the recipient of UNESCO’s Mozart Medal for "outstanding contribution to
world music culture,” the Government of Moscow Award for "Legend of the
Century,” and the award for "outstanding contribution to the development of
cultural relations between the US and Russia”—an honor only accorded to two
others: pianist Van Cliburn and cellist Mstislav Rostropovich.
On the occasion of his 100th birthday, a gala performance took place at the
Kremlin Palace Theater in Moscow honoring his great contribution to the world of
Mr. Moiseyev was presented with Russia’s top civilian honor for service to
the nation from President Vladimir Putin.
Mr. Moiseyev died in Moscow in November 2007 at the age of 101.