Leon Danielian


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(b New York, 31 Oct. 1920; d Canaan, Conn., 8 Mar. 1997)

US dancer, choreographer, and teacher. He studied with Mordkin, at the School of American Ballet, and with Fokine, Dolin, and Tudor, making his debut in 1937 in the corps of the Mordkin Ballet. In 1938 danced on Broadway in I Married an Angel (mus. Rodgers, chor. Balanchine), after which he was a soloist with the newly formed Ballet Theatre (1939–41) and dancer with de Basil's Original Ballet Russe (1941–2). He was then principal dancer with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo (1943–57, continuing as guest artist until 1961) where he danced roles in the Balanchine and Massine repertoire. During a period when most top male dancers were Russian or English he was a rare example of American male talent (he was the first American to perform an entrechat huit). He was considered an exemplary classicist with exceptional speed, elevation, and elegance of line. During his career he also appeared as principal guest artist with various companies including Ballets des Champs Elysées and San Francisco Ballet, as well as dancing in various opera productions. From 1956 he was choreographer with Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and in 1960 he became director and choreographer of his own ballet group. An eloquent and dedicated teacher, he became director of American Ballet Theatre School (1968–80). In 1980 he was appointed Assistant Dean of Dance at Purchase State University of New York, and from 1982 to 1991 he was Professor of Dance at the University of Texas.

Subjects: Dance.

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