Igor Schwezoff


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(b St Petersburg, 1904; d New York, 28 Oct. 1982)

Soviet-US dancer, choreographer, and teacher. He started training aged 16 and entered the Leningrad Ballet School at 20. During his studies he also performed with a provincial touring operetta company, useful experience for his exceptionally peripatetic career. He toured the Ukraine (1926–8) as a dancer with the New Academic Theatre, and in 1928 was appointed first dancer and choreographer of the Kiev opera house. He additionally danced with the Propaganda Studio Opera which brought Socialist art to the provinces. In 1930 he left to dance in revues in China then moved to Buenos Aires where he was principal dancer at the Teatro Colón, under the direction of Nijinska. With her he moved to Paris and then to the Netherlands, where he opened a school in The Hague which evolved into his own company, Ballet Igor Schwezoff (1934–6). He danced and choreographed in Monte Carlo (1936–7) then opened a school in London, after which he was a soloist with de Basil's Original Ballet Russe (1939–41). In 1941 he moved to New York where he became choreographer of the New Opera Company. After military service he divided his time between New York and Rio de Janeiro, where he was director, dancer, and choreographer of Teatro Municipal and where he choreographed his ballet Concertanto dansante (mus. Saint-Saëns, 1945). In New York in 1943 he staged the first US production of The Red Poppy (1927) for the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. In 1946 he was choreographer for New York City Center Opera, and in 1947 became founder director of Ballet da Juventude in Rio de Janeiro. He opened a school in New York in 1949 and a company in 1953. He taught at the Ballet Theatre School in New York (1956–62) and then with many other institutions. He published his autobiography, Borzoi, in 1935.

Subjects: Dance.

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