Kasyan Goleizovsky


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(b Moscow, 5 Mar. 1892; d Moscow, 4 May 1970)

Russian dancer and choreographer. Pioneering member of the Moscow avant-garde during the 1920s. He studied first in Moscow and then (1902–9) in St Petersburg, where he was a pupil of Fokine. He graduated in 1909 and danced with the Bolshoi (1909–18). In 1916 he established his own Moscow studio, called the Quest, and made numerous concert miniatures for it. He also began to stage small productions at theatres outside the Bolshoi, especially in cabaret theatres such as the Bat or the Mamonovsky Theatre of Miniatures where his work acquired a popular following. In 1918 he was invited to head the studio of the Bolshoi Theatre School and in 1922 he formed his own company, the Moscow Chamber Ballet, for which he made some of his most innovative works, including Faun (mus. Debussy) and Salomé (mus. Strauss), daring in its portrayal of eroticism on stage. His boldly experimentalist stance was an influence and an inspiration to other young Russian choreographers, most notably George Balanchine. His most significant ballet was Joseph the Beautiful (mus. Vasilenko, 1925) which was created for the Bolshoi's Experimental Theatre troupe, but whose depiction of the individual's struggle for freedom proved too controversial for the traditionalists, led by Tikhomirov, and it was dropped from the repertoire. His later works also met with opposition. Lola, created for the Bolshoi in 1925 was cancelled by the management; The Whirlwind (1927) was performed by the Bolshoi only once. With his works now dropped from the Bolshoi repertoire, Goleizovsky increasingly turned to concert programmes and music halls for his livelihood, although in 1933–4 he made a brief return to the Bolshoi, and again in the 1960s when the post-Stalinist era was opening up new opportunities for choreographers. He additionally researched and choreographed folkloric material. During the late 1930s he worked in various Soviet regions arranging folk dances and during the Second World War choreographed for the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Ministry of the Interior. His researches were published in Forms of Russian National Choreography or Images of Russian Folk Choreography (Moscow, 1964).

A list of his other ballets includes Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor (Moscow, 1934), Sleeping Beauty (Kharkhov, 1935), Fountain of Bakhchisarai (Minsk, 1939), Two Roses (mus. A. Lensky, Moscow, 1941), Scriabiniana (Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow, 1962), and Leili and Medzhnun (mus. S. Balasanian, Moscow, 1964).

Subjects: Dance.

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