2 3 Throwback Thursday and Mikhail Mordkin | Ballet Webb

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Throwback Thursday and Mikhail Mordkin

Throwback Thursday and Mikhail Mordkin

Mikhail Mordkin trained at the Bolshoi  Ballet School and graduated in 1899. He went on to dance with the Bolshoi and the Ballet Russes. He first came to the United States in 1910 with Anna Pavlova, then created his own company “All Star Imperial Russian Ballet” which toured the country.

Mikhail Mordkin was sometimes criticized because his technique wasn’t purely classical. But this wasn’t his goal. He wanted to use his technique to portray multi-faceted characters with deep emotions. He changed the standard of male dancing by increasing the dramatic characterizations of male roles. Male dancers were no longer cardboard figures who did little more than pose and support female dancers.

Mordkin settled permanently in the U.S. in 1924, and in 1927 he staged a complete production of Swan Lake. In 1937 he created The Mordkin Ballet using students from his New York ballet school.  One of his students, Lucia Chase, danced principal roles. It is interesting to note that he had two other students who achieved fame outside the ballet world: Katherine Hepburn and Judy Garland.

In September of 1939,The Mordkin Ballet began to be reorganized with plans for a larger company featuring more choreographers and more dancers.  It was the beginning of American Ballet Theatre.

Mikhail Mordkin died on July 15, 1944.

From the Big Blue Book of Ballet Secrets:

Dance History Factoid #61:  
Mikhail Mordkin began a company that evolved into American Ballet Theater.

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““And suddenly you know: It's time to start something new and trust the magic of beginnings.”
Meister Eckhart

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