Russian ballet legend returns to Herod Atticus, as guest of honor
In the early 1970s, the Bolshoi Ballet came to Athens, with a star dancing the title role of Spartacus at a packed Herod Atticus Theater. Mikhail Lavrovsky was at the apogee of his fame at the time and this particular role, which earned him the Lenin Prize, was to become a career milestone. It was a performance he has never forgotten and the dancer’s dream to return to the Roman-era theater is about to come true in September, just a month shy of his 76th birthday.
The tribute to Lavrovsky by the Bolshoi that premiered in Moscow on May 4 is traveling outside Russia for the first time for three shows in Greece and features the company’s most famous young soloists, Ivan Vasiliev, as well as other stars such as Nina Kaptsova, Igor Tsvirko and Maria Vinogradova, along with the corps de ballet. Indeed, practically every important Russian dancer today was at one point or another a student of Lavrovsky’s.
At a press conference on Tuesday ahead of the September shows in Thessaloniki and Athens, the veteran dancer spoke of his bond with Greece. “My parents taught me to love the Greek civilization and to live in a Spartan manner. I was not allowed to make mistakes, only to move forwards,” he told reporters in Athens.
The son of celebrated Bolshoi chore- ographer Leonid Lavrovsky and dancer Elena Chikvaidze, Mikhail was born in Tbilisi in 1941 and attended the Moscow State Academy of Choreography. In the years that followed he performed every leading male role in the classical repertory, earning the nickname “Superman of dance.” He also served for years as artistic director of the Stanislavsky Theater and his alma mater. He has been a dance teacher at the Bolshoi since 1987 and has dedicated a great part of his energy to choreography.
“The artist must always maintain his presence in dance because while the body may abandon him, the spirit is always present,” Lavrovsky said.
There doesn’t seem to be much wrong with his body, however, and he intends to perform in the show organized in his honor by the Bolshoi, directed by his son, Leonid.
The program comprises dances from his career highlights such as “Spartacus” and “Don Quixote,” but also Lavrovsky’s own historic choreographies, among them “Casanova,” “Nijinsky” and “The Russian Ballerina,” as well as a small preview of Lavrovsky’s latest piece, “Amok,” which premieres at the Bolshoi next year.