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Notable Russian choreographer dies at age of 86

Vladimir Vasilyov will be buried on Saturday at a cemetery in the Moscow region

MOSCOW, August 24. /TASS/. Famous Russian choreographer Vladimir Vasilyov, who together with his wife Natalie Kasatkina came up with a whole range remarkable internationally acclaimed productions in the 1970’s, 80’s and 90’s died on Thursday at the age of 86, the press service of the Moscow Classical Ballet theater said in a press release.

"Vladimir Yudich Vasilyov, the chief choreographer of our theater died in the early hours of August 24," it said.

Vasilyov and Kasatkina were big figures in an outstanding epoch in Soviet/Russian choreography marked by an intense search for new forms of expression in dance and combination of different forms of art. Along with keeping up commitment to the Russian classical school, they received acclaim for their willingness to experiment.

They started out as choreographers at the Bolshoi in 1962 by staging ‘Vanina Vanini’ based a short story of the same name by Stendhal. The music for the ballet was composed by the avant-garde musician, Nikolay Karetnikov.

Their next production, also at the Bolshoi, was Stravinsky’s ‘Rite of Spring’, the first one in the USSR.

In 1971, they came up with ‘Creation of the World’ to the music by Andrei Petrov. This comical interpretation of the Genesis was staged at the Kirov (Mariinsky) Theater in Leningrad and would become later the calling card of Moscow Classical Ballet.

In 1972, Vasilyov and Kasatkina staged their own choreographic version of Romeo and Juliet in the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theater.

A new chapter in their creative efforts began in 1977 when they took the top positions at the Moscow Classical Ballet theater, founded some ten years before that. The company became the springboard for a number of dancers who would become international stars later.

The list of the latter includes among others Irek Mukhamedov, who would star at the Bolshoi in the 1980’s and the Royal Ballet in the 1990’s and the 2000’s, Galina Stepanenko, the would-be prima ballerina and ballet troupe director at the Bolshoi, and most notably, Vladimir Malakhov, the star of a long range of companies from the Bolshoi to the American Ballet Theater and then the artistic director of Staatballet Berlin from 2004 through 2014.

Vasilyov and Kasatkina resumed their older productions at the Moscow Classical Ballet and did a number of remarkable new ones, also inviting other choreographers to contribute to the repertoire.

Their choreographic experiments embraced the music that was not originally written as ballets, for instance, Joseph Strauss, Verdi, Bartok, and Tchaikovsky’s symphonies. Also, they produced their own highly popular versions of choreography for Prokofiev’s Cinderella, Delib’s Coppelia and other ballet pieces.

Theatrical reviewers of the time said their productions were building blocks of a new phase in the history of Soviet and Russian ballet alongside with the choreographic masterpieces by Yuri Grigorovich, Leonid Yakobson, Boris Eifman, Nikita Dolgushin, and others.

Vladimir Vasilyov will be buried on Saturday at a cemetery in the Moscow region.