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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

Adolph Bolm
by Rosalind Schaffer

Adolph Bolm, dance director of "The Men in Her Life" Columbia picture starring Loretta Young, is well known locally for the work he has done at the Hollywood Bowl and in films, as well as in special local productions. Several years ago he was brought to Los Angeles to do the ballet scenes for John Barrymore's Warner Brothers film, "The Mad Genius". Since that time, with the intermission of four years when he was Ballet Director for the San Francisco Opera company during the season, he has made his home in Hollywood, always believing that eventually motion pictures would recognize the value of the ballet and dancing for film use.

Bolm made ballet history in Los Angeles with his production of his "Mechanical Ballet" in the Hollywood Bowl several years ago. Since then, every ballet troupe has had some version of this powerful modern-in-feeling number. When Max Reinhardt produced his version of "Faust", Adolph Bolm was the logical choice to produce the ballet, always a high spot in a Foust production.

When the San Francisco Opera came to Los Angeles, the film capital had the pleasure of seeing Bolm's lavish production of "Le Coq d'Or" from Rimsky Korsakoff's celebrated opera. Bolm, years before, had produced another version of it, and the first one in the United States for the Metropolitan Opera in New York.

His ballets for "Carmen" in the Bowl, with the San Francisco Opera, revived the original "bullfight" ballet, originated by Bolm for the Metropolitan, and also widely copied by others since.

When Igor Stravinsky produced his "The Fire Bird" at the Hollywood Bowl a year ago, Bolm was the logical man to produce the ballet, as Bolm and Stravinsky had worked together in the Diaghilev ballet troupe years ago, in Europe and America.

Bolm's triumphs in the first season of the Ballet Theatre in New York, in 1940, were great; at that time he created the ballet of "Peter and the Wolf" from Prokofief's music; this too has been copied and repeated since. He revived his old role of the clown in "Carnaval", one in which he had great popularity during his dancing career; critics cite it as the greatest single piece of pantomime ever done. At this time he also revived his "Mechanical Ballet" to the music of "The Iron Foundry" by Mossulov, Russian modern.

Adolph Bolm comes to us from a great and full career which began in Russia, where he was a star of the Imperial Ballet of Petrograd. Anxious to break away from the stilted formalities of the older ballet forms, Bolm early organized the first European tour of the Russian ballet outside of Russia. Anna Pavlova and Bolm danced together as stars in that first trip, with Bolm acting as choreographer and manager of the venture, as well as performing.

With Pavlova he joined Sag de Diaghilev's fabulous Ballet Russe as first dance, choreographer and ballet master. It was Bolm who prepared the entire repertory of the Diaghilev company in America. After two succeeding tours in which he alternated with the tragic Nijinsky in the starring roles, Bolm made the United States his home, being one of the first of the expatriate Russians to take out citizenship papers at that time. His career is synonymous with the history of he ballet, since he entered it. He introduced Russian ballet to New York through the Metropolitan Opera, and through Florenz Ziegfeld for whom he produced ballets. He introduced the idea of prologues, doing his first of these at the famous Roxy theatre. For seven years, Bolm's name was in lights on Broadway.

In Chicago, Bolm again made ballet history with his work for the Chicago Civic Opera, and in his own Ballet Intime company. In this he used his talented pupil, Ruth Page.

His activities were always of the highest standard; he is a dancer's dancer; the great in his own field come to him to learn and to admire humbly the great art of a man who is the most significant figure in the world of the dance today; the only one to whom he can be compared is his co-worker from the Imperial Theatre, Michael Fokine of New York.

Naturally enough, when Gregory Ratoff, director and also from the Russian Theatre world, sought to make his film based on the life of a ballerina, he selected Bolm to be dance director. The flavor of the old-time ballet, the expert management of the dancers, and the planning of the dances themselves, have been excellently achieved in "The Men in Her Life, by Bolm and Ratoff working together, both understanding so well the problems of the dance in the theatre, and adapting them to the screen. Ratoff himself is a balletomane; his wife, Eugenie Leontovich, was a ballerina before her distinguished career as an actress began.

Published here with permission of Rosalind deMille, daughter of Rosalind Schaffer.


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