Among rapidly changing world events was
hardly noticed a decease of a great Russian artist who worked
last 35 years in America. On the 16th of April this year in
Hollywood Adolph Rudolfovich Bolm peacefully passed away after
a short illness.
He was one of the last Russian artists whose names associate
with the first triumphs of the Russian ballet in Western Europe
and with its further splendid development in America.
Mr. Bolm started his career as a ballet dancer in 1903 in
St. Petersburg, in the maryinsky Theatre. First years of his
work in the theater were rather routine, common for the beginner:
parts in concerts, solo performances. Brought up in the classic
traditions of marius Petipa by his teachers Ioganson, Karsavin
and Legat, young, handsome and gifted dancer felt not at ease
in the restricted by academic repertoire atmosphere of the
Imperial theatres. He was always an individuality, he sought
more freedom and initiative, wanted to employ his abilities
and creative fantasy.
That's why as soon as Mr. Folkine started to implement his
reforms, Mr. Bolm eagerly joined the group of young dancers,
supporting this genius of choreography. But he failed to take
an appropriate position in the group. Independent character
and a hot temper caused problems with the administration and
prevented Mr. Bolm from developing his talent.
So he decided to carry out a risky plan: to organize his
own small group and go to perform abroad. Having received
Anna Pavlova's consent to join the group as a prima-ballerina
he formed a wonderful small troupe of the best dancers of
the Maryinsky Theatre. He himself was a director and a manager
of the whole business and also a dancer partner of Anna Pavlova.
In May 1908 during summer vacations of the Imperial Theatres
the troupe left for a tour and performed at Helsingforce,
Stockholm, Copenhagen, Prague and Berlin. The success, both
artistic and material, turned out to be beyond any expectation.
Fantastic reception of the troupe by public and press became
the subject of discussions in the European artistic circles,
and Mr. Bolm's troupe received an invitation to visit Paris.
At that time Mr. Diaghilev together with Mr. Folkine and Mr.
Benua and others were elaborating their program of Russian
Ballet Season in Paris. The best dancers of the Imperial Theatres
of St. Petersburg and Moscow were supposed to participate,
including Mr. Bolm. That's why he reasonably rejected Paris.
proposal, considering that it would be better for Anna Pavlova,
for his troupe and for himself to appear in Paris. as a part
of Diaghilev's magnificent program.
In summer 1909 the Russian Ballet conquered Paris., and names
of Folkine, Pavlova, Karsavina, Bolm, Nijinski and many others
gained European recognition. In St. Petersburg the public
remembers Mr. Bolm for his part is "Polovetsian Dances"
in the opera "Prince Igor". On the September 22,
1909, the premiere of the remake of this opera with dances
staged by Mr. Folkine took place. Those who were lucky to
see this performance, will never forget Mr. Bolm. He was a
leader of the warriors, slaves and boys, rushing in front
of the passionate crowd. His technical perfection in combination
with complete artistic transformation made an irresistible
impression. He proved to be an ideal performer for Mr. Folkine's
Great success in "Prince Igor" in St. Petersburg
and in the Diaghilev's program abroad had a certain influence
on Mr. Bolm's position in the Maryinsky theatre. But dogmatic
conservative repertoire yet did not give him opportunity to
use his artistic abilities to full extent. Thus, in 1911 he
announced his resignation and went abroad. Diaghilev approved
of his decision because he realized the advantage of their
cooperation. Years 1909-1914 were the years of flourishing
of the Diaghilev's ballet in Western Europe and South America.
The opinion that Mr. Bolm, leading dancer in "Shaherezada",
"Punch", "Fire-Bird", "Carnival",
"Cleopatra", "Tamara" and many others,
was an outstanding dancer and wonderful actor with expressive
individuality. Paris. critics admired is "manliness"
in the classic dances, which was unusual for male-dancers
of that epoch.
In 1914 Mr. Diaghilev brought not only the Russian Ballet
but the Opera as well to London, including the famous singer
Fyodor Shalyapin. Mr. Bolm stages dances for "Hovanshchina"
and for "The May Night". But before the season was
over the World War I broke out and the ballet troupe of Diaghilev
was dismissed. He started negotiations with the administration
of "Metropolitan Opera" in New York regarding the
performance of the Russian Ballet in America. But neither
Mr. Folkine nor Ms. Karsavina were able to get a permission
to leave Russia because of the war, and Mr. Nijinski was detained
in Austria as a prisoner of war. Mr. Diaghilev found himself
without a choreographer and two leading dancers and was forced
to reorganize his business. He asked Mr. Bolm to help him.
Mr. Bolm took charge of a choreographer and of a leading dancer,
renewed and prepared 20 ballets within a short period of time.
The cast was considerably changed, because many artists could
not leave Russia. All difficulties were overcome and revived
Diaghilev's troupe resumed its performances in Paris. and
Monte Carlo, then left for America, where Mr. Nijinski joined
them at last. They performed in America with great success
and were engaged for the second season. Between these two
seasons the troupe performed in Spain where Mr. Bolm staged
a new ballet with the music from the symphony picture "Sadko"
by Mr. Rimsky-Korsakov. During the second season in America
Mr. Bolm had and accident. He jumped unsuccessfully out of
the window during the ballet performance. He had to take a
break and leave the troupe which finished the tour without
him. Russian Revolution definitely proved that he should not
return home and that's why he decided to settle in America.
Besides there he had an opportunity to implement his own creative
plans. In Yew York he started to stage performances of "Intime
Ballet". It was a new form of ballet theatre, the troupe
comprised a small group of dancers and a chamber orchestra.
The repertoire consisted of short choreographic dramas, comedies
and solo performances.
Mr. Bolm was the first European choreographer who engaged
American dancers in creation of the American Ballet. Thus,
he became a part of the history of the American Ballet. It
has to be noted the variety of his activities. He started
his work in New York in 1917, having staged "Intime Ballet",
then he created "Coq d'Or" in Metropolitan Opera
following Mr. Folkine's conception. That is, the singers sang
remaining immobile, and their parts were played by ballet
dancers. Mr. Bolm had a part of the King Dodon. After this
in the same theatre he staged "Punch" in which he
starred himself. Later for Chicago Opera he staged a new ballet
by American composer John Alden Carpenter "The Birthday
of The Infanta" based on a fairy tale by Oscar Wilde.
He played a central part of a local opera and founded his
own ballet school. Two years later he resigned in order to
found a new artistic enterprise together with the conductor
Mr. Stock and composer Mr. Carpenter: "Allied Arts".
Between 1924 and 1927 the Associate produced a lot of classical
and modern music performances with Mr. Bolm's choreography
which amazed by its novelty, freshness and bold imagination.
Many artists, including Mr. Remisoff who contributed a lot,
created scenery and costumes. Mr. Bolm's activity in Chicago
was interrupted for six months which he spent in Buenos Aires
with some members of the troupe. In 1931 he moved to California.
He spent several years in San Francisco as a choreographer
in an opera theatre and a director of a ballet school at the
same theatre. Then he continued his creative work in Hollywood
where he had his own school, worked for movie studios, cooperated
with Max Reinhardt and staged some performances in Hollywood
Bowl. When New York Ballet theatre was founded in 1941, he
became its first stage manager and worked three seasons for
His work during his last years was mainly concentrated on
his Hollywood school. He taught students in the best traditions
of classical Russian ballet, he did not confine them to strict
academism in dancing. He always looked forward and followed
the traces of all new trends in choreography. While in tours
he would visit theatres, concerts, museums, libraries in each
country where he performed, enriching his knowledge of art
and literature. He had a special bent for music, painting,
sculpture and architecture. Many outstanding composers and
artists were his friends and collaborators. His artistic imagination
never faded away, even under unfavorable circumstances. He
was very sociable, loved people, shared the best sides of
his gifted nature with them.
The most part of his life Mr. Bolm spent far from his motherland.
But it did not affect his artistic beliefs: always and everywhere
this Russian artist with a Swedish last name remained loyal
to fundamental principles of Russian Art: artistic truth,
sincerity, idealism, unselfishness and deep love of art.