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Adolph
Bolm


Recommended Books:

The Ballets Russes and Its World

Dancing in the Sun: Hollywood...

Era of the Russian Ballet

Diaghilev Observed

The Art of Ballets Russes: The Serge...

Diaghilev's Ballets Russes


Spellings of Adolph Bolm's name found in his papers:

Adolph Bolm
Adolphe Bolm
Adolf Bolm
Adolph Rudolphovich Bolm
Adolph Rudolph Bolm
Adolph Emil Bolm


To the Memory of Mr. A. R. Bolm
by Sergei Bertenson

Sunday, September 16, 1951
New Russian Word - Russian Daily

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 ingenious conceptions.

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 this company.

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.

Sergei Bertenson
Hollywood

http://www.adolphbolm.com

 


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