Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

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This Blog is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history and memories of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, its legendary ballet dancers, choreographers, scenery artists, musicians and composers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mikhail Mordkin Passed Away July 15, 1944

Mikhail Mikhailovich Mordkin, Russian dancer and teacher was born in Moscow, on December 9, 1880, into the family of the violinist of the Imperial Theatres. At the age of nine he entered Moscow Imperial Ballet School. Mikhail Mordkin was one of two of the male stars of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1909. Mordkin was trained at the Bolshoi, in Moscow, graduating from the Bolshoi Ballet School in 1899. In the same year, he was appointed soloist and then premier danseur. He joined Diaghilev for his Paris season as a leading dancer, ranking above Nijinsky. On the opening night of Ballets Russes in Paris in 1909, Mordkin danced the leading role in Michael Fokine's Le Pavillon d'Armide.

After the first season, he remained in Paris to dance with Anna Pavlova, going on to form his own company, All Star Imperial Russian Ballet, which toured America in 1911 and 1912. Mikhail returned to the Bolshoi and was appointed its Director in 1917.

He left Russia after the October Revolution, first working in Lithuania, and finally settling in the United States in 1924. He founded the Mordkin Ballet in 1926. His company included such distinguished artists as Hilda Butsova, Felia Doubrovska, Pierre Vladimiroff, and Nicholas Zvereff. But after a European tour, the company disbanded in the same year. From among his students in America, he formed a new Mordkin Ballet in 1937, now American Ballet Theatre. His student, Lucia Chase, helped to initially finance the company and after the first season, she took over the management from Mordkin.

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