Legendary ballet dancer to receive honorary degree
RELEASED: Feb. 1, 2007
DANVILLE, KY—In celebration of the 200th anniversary of the beginning of diplomatic relations between the United States and Russia, Centre College will award Vladimir Vasiliev, one of the greatest dancers of all time, an honorary degree. This will be Vasiliev's first such award in the United States. The presentation will take place prior to the State Ballet Theatre of Russia's production of Prokofiev's Cinderella on Feb. 6 at 8 p.m. at the Norton Center for the Arts.
Known around the world as "God of the dance," Vasiliev graduated from the Moscow Ballet School in 1958, joined the Bolshoi Ballet and soon became a premiere. Early on in his career, he was awarded the nation's highest honor for creative achievement, the People's Artist of the USSR. Combining brilliant technique, with a highly artistic and original acting style, Vasiliev made an enormous contribution to the development of classical male dance.
Throughout his career as a dancer at the Bolshoi, Vasiliev was in constant demand as a guest star at the world's most prestigious opera houses, including New York's Metropolitan Opera, Covent Garden in London, La Scala in Milan and the Paris Opera. His roles in classic ballets such as Giselle, Sleeping Beauty and Don Quixote won the admiration of audiences all over the world. He partnered with the first ballerinas of the world, but his most memorable performances came with his wife, the Bolshoi prima ballerina Ekaterina Maximova. Together they were an incomparable ballet duet—a pair the Paris Dance Academy called "the world's best."
Beginning in the 1970s, in addition to performing, Vasiliev began to choreograph and stage works for the Bolshoi and many other important theaters in the Soviet Union. Among the works he created were Icarus at the Bolshoi; Macbeth at the Bolshoi, Deutsche Opera Berlin, Budapest Opera and Kremlin Ballet; and Don Quixote for the American Ballet Theatre in New York. He also worked as a choreographer, director or performer in numerous film projects. For 10 years, beginning in 1986, Vasiliev served as head of the Russian Academy of Theatrical Arts.
In 1995, Vasiliev was appointed the general and artistic director of the Bolshoi Theater by the first President of the Russian Federation, Boris Yeltsin. In this position, Vasiliev worked hard to revive the glory of the Bolshoi and to change the administrative system by introducing various reforms and a new contract system. He also realized the enormous artistic potential of the theater by bringing to the repertoire 14 new operas and 16 new ballet productions. Under his guidance, the Bolshoi launched important touring projects, including the acclaimed visit of the entire company (opera, ballet and orchestra) to London and an American tour of the ballet and orchestra. Among his proudest accomplishments during his term was the establishment of the only school of the Bolshoi outside of Russia, in Joinville, Brazil. Vasiliev enabled the Bolshoi to regain its place among the world's most prestigious companies.
Since his retirement from the Bolshoi, Vasiliev has choreographed ballets for many leading companies around the world, including the Opera di Roma, Tokyo Ballet, Teatro Argentino and the Municipal Theatre of Rio de Janeiro. His choreography for the Zeffirelli production of the opera Aida at the Arena di Verona in Italy received the highest critical acclaim. During the summer of 2001, he headed the jury board of the first International Ballet Competition in Rome and for many years he has been president of the Russian National Ballet Competition "Arabesque."
During his distinguished career, Vasiliev has received many Soviet, Russian and foreign prizes, orders and honors, including the USSR State Prize, the Russian State Prize, the Order of Merit of France, the Rio Branco of Brazil, the State Order of Lithuania, and the UNESCO Pablo Picasso medal.For more on this legendary performer, see his Web site at http://www.vasiliev.com.
- end -
Founded in 1819, Centre College is ranked among the U.S. News top 50 national liberal arts colleges. Centre alumni, known for their nation-leading loyalty in annual financial support, include two U.S. vice presidents and two Supreme Court justices. For more, visit http://www.centre.edu/web/elevatorspeech/
For news archives go to http://www.centre.edu/web/news/newsarchive.html.
600 W. Walnut Street
Danville, KY 40422
Public Information Coordinator: Telephone 859-238-5714