(b Vitebsk, 12 Mar. 1938)
Russian-Israeli dancer and choreographer. He studied at the Vilnius Ballet School, Moscow Ballet School, and Leningrad Ballet School, graduating in 1957. He danced first with the Maly Ballet (1957–64), where he created roles in several ballets including Lopukhov's Ballad of Love (1959), and Boyarsky's Orpheus (title role, 1962), and The Lady and the Hooligan (1962). In 1964 he joined the Kirov, where he remained until 1972. There he created roles in Jacobson's Land of Miracles (1967), Vinogradov's Gorianka (1968), Sergeyev's Hamlet (title role, 1970), and Kasatkina's and Vasiliov's Creation of the World (1971). Although acclaimed as a virtuoso technician and fine dance-actor, it was for political reasons that Panov came to international attention when, in 1972, he and his wife, the Kirov ballerina Galina Ragozina, applied for an exit visa to Israel. Panov was expelled from the Kirov (along with his wife), imprisoned briefly and forbidden from taking class for two years. Many in the West appealed to the authorities on his behalf and, in 1974, the Panovs were finally allowed to leave Russia. They settled in Israel, dancing with Batsheva Dance Company and Bat-Dor Company (1974–7) while also making frequent guest appearances together abroad. Panov was also guest choreographer and principal dancer with the Berlin Opera Ballet between 1977 and 1983 where he created several ballets, including Cinderella (mus. Prokofiev, 1977), Sacre du printemps (mus. Stravinsky, 1978), The Idiot (mus. Shostakovich, 1979), and War and Peace (mus. Tchaikovsky, 1980). He additionally staged Heart of the Mountain (mus. Kozhlayev) for the San Francisco Ballet (1976), Scheherazade and Petrushka for Vienna State Opera Ballet (1981), The Three Sisters (mus. Rachmaninoff) for the Royal Swedish Ballet (1983), and Hamlet (mus. Shostakovich) for the Norwegian National Ballet (1984). He was then artistic director of the Royal Ballet of Flanders (1984–6), for whom he staged Romeo and Juliet (mus. Prokofiev, 1984) and Moves (mus. Glorieux, 1986). In 1988 he created Cléopâtre for the Istanbul Devlet Ballet, using a cast of 200. In 1991 he was appointed ballet director of the State Opera in Bonn, where he created Dreyfus— J'accuse (mus. Schnittke, 1994) and in 1992 he took the Bonn Ballet to Moscow. In 1993 he also opened a ballet school and company in Ashdod, Israel, where he is now settled. Author of autobiography To Dance (New York, 1978). Lenin Prize (1969).