Gina Ness

George Zoritch

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I just received a phone call from a dear friend who stars in the Ballet Russe film. He told me he received a call today letting him know that George Zoritch has passed away. I can't find anything when I google Mr. Zoritch. Perhaps the information is too new? Perhaps it is erroneous? Anyway, if anyone has any information, let us all know...

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Yes...I hope someone will substantiate this soon...That is exactly what my friend said, cubanmiamiboy... The old troupe is shrinking...

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Yes...I hope someone will substantiate this soon...That is exactly what my friend said, cubanmiamiboy... The old troupe is shrinking...

I have heard he died Sunday November 1, in a Tucson hospital aged 92.

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While performing at U of A on tour some of us took his classes. My memory is of a real gentleman of the old school, and a fine teacher. May he RIP

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While performing at U of A on tour some of us took his classes. My memory is of a real gentleman of the old school, and a fine teacher. May he RIP

My only exposure to Zoritch was on the film of the two Ballet Russes companies in the 30s, 40s, etc. And he came across to me as a real charming man, lots of charisma.

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I'll will always be grateful to George Zoritch because he wore that 80s Joffrey t-shirt in the Ballets Russes film. If not for that t-shirt the film would have been completely devoid of any mention of Robert Joffrey, the man who was responsible for so much Ballets Russes interest in the U.S.

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The film sequence in which he tries to rehearse a fragment of Giselle with a humorous Krassovska-(she ordering him to do the steps and both shouting in Russian while laughing at Zoritch's claim of being "too old" to run after her)- is just priceless... :flowers: . Later on there is a moment of great tenderness when both share a kiss in the lips... :thumbsup:

I'm sure atm711 got to see his dancing at some point...Would love to hear about it.

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I absolutely love that sequence, too! It is one of my favorite moments in the entire Ballet Russe film... :thumbsup:

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I just received a phone call from a dear friend who stars in the Ballet Russe film. He told me he received a call today letting him know that George Zoritch has passed away. I can't find anything when I google Mr. Zoritch. Perhaps the information is too new? Perhaps it is erroneous? Anyway, if anyone has any information, let us all know...

Yes, it's true. George Zoritch died Sunday, November 1st at 10 PM in Tucson's St. Mary's Hospital.

He had been there for 3 weeks after taking a fall in his house and injured his head and neck.

I have been a close friend since I moved to Tucson in 1987 and live close to his house in the Tucson Mountains. I visited him nearly every day at the hospital and sometimes fed him. His head was encased in a halo in order to try and heal his neck. He died with it still on.

The Sunday morning I visited on my way to a matinee performance of Giselle by the Tucson Ballet. The hospital was very quiet. His caregiver was not there. George had definately taken a change for the worse. He was unable to sit up and spoke almost in a whisper. I had to lean close to hear him. I felt he was dying. His last words to me were "Goodbye Richard" as I left for the ballet.

During the ballet "Giselle" (staged and coached by Amanda McKerrow) I felt that, unknown to the dancers, that I would never see George alive again and this "Giselle" could have been an unknown tribute to him, as he had danced Albrecht many times in his life. It came to be true as I was later to find out.

A month earlier he had given me his entire collection of video tapes of about 400. Of course I have not seen any of them yet, but among them are recordings of his classes and students of his while he was on the faculty of the University of Arizona. I am not yet prepared to look at them.

George was my original inspiration to dance. I had never seen him on the stage in his glory days with Ballet Russe of course but only in films. "Night And Day" and "Escape Me Never" are two that I saw as a teenager and they were the first chance I got to see ballet at all, least of all a male ballet dancer.

Perhaps I could relate here that at that time, as a 16 year old, I was an usher at the Metropolitan Movie Palace in Boston (now the Wang Center) and every time the ballet in "Escape Me Never" came on I would rush to the bottom of an aisle to watch as closely as I could. That's when I started lessons and to practice dance steps unseen, whenever I could find an isolated spot in that immense theater.

So George had a great influence on my life, and little did I know at that time that we would one day be close neighbors in Tucson.

At age 72, George was still doing class barre in local ballet studios and at 82, doing gym at the local YMCA. Then he began writing his book of memories "Ballet Mystique". He then translated it into a Russian edition which he told me is selling very well in Russia. He had been going every other year to Perm, Russia (the home of Serge Diaghileff) to attend ballet competitons there. He was actually planning on going this spring. The Abaturovs, who direct this competition at the beautiful theater there, were visiting George on the day he fell.

ВЕЧНАЯ ПAМЯТЪ (Eternal Memory)

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Thank you so much, Richka, for sharing this with us. Mr. Zoritch was very fortunate that you were his friend. May he rest in peace...

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The film sequence in which he tries to rehearse a fragment of Giselle with a humorous Krassovska-(she ordering him to do the steps and both shouting in Russian while laughing at Zoritch's claim of being "too old" to run after her)- is just priceless... :bow: . Later on there is a moment of great tenderness when both share a kiss in the lips... :wink:

I'm sure atm711 got to see his dancing at some point...Would love to hear about it.

This was a wonderful DVD, which I still watch, the history one learns from it is amazing. Such wonderful people giving you an insight into a famous era. It is so sad to see them gradually disappear from our lives. God bless them, and may they perform forever on the big stage in the sky.

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George Zortich was one of my most beloved dancers of the Ballet Russe.

My heart broke when I saw his obituary in the Times. Just recently he autographed a photograph of himself for me and signed it "With admiration and love, George Zoritch". I do not deserve his admiration in perspective of all of his contributions to the world of ballet.

Here is the link to his obituary from the New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/pages/arts/dance/index.html

May he rest in peace.

Je ne vous oublierai jamais, mon George.

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Thank you so much, Richka, for sharing this with us. Mr. Zoritch was very fortunate that you were his friend. May he rest in peace...

Last evening (November 12) I held a meeting at my home for some of his former students and some from our Tucson dance community, to plan a memorial for George Zoritch. The when, where and how. We decided on December 6th and it will be held in the studio here at the University where he taught for 14 years. This memorial gathering will start at 2 PM. ALL are invited.

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A memorial gathering will take place for George Zoritch on December 6th. It will be held in the studio that he taught in for 14 years at the University of Arizona in Tucson. It will be at 2 PM (Arizona time) and last until 5 PM.

The studio is part of the Dance Department in the Ina Gittings building on campus. People from the Tucson dance community and those flying in from all parts. ALL are invited!

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Thank you very much Richka for keeping us all posted on the memorial for Mr. George Zoritch. It certainly seems that he was very loved by his Tucson dance community as well as by all his many fans over the years...I saw him dance when I was perhaps nine or ten years old at the SF Opera House when he was touring with Ballet Russe. The first teacher of my youth danced with this company, so we were very familiar with the ballets and the dancers of the Ballet Russe. I remember thinking at the time that I was seeing a really famous person! My memory (it was a long time ago and I was quite young!) tells me that he danced with Nina Novak...

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Probably one of the most physically beautiful dancers. Too young to have seen him dance but found him very fascinating in his memoir and the Ballet Russe film. I'd love to see some of the Hollywood films he did.

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Thank you very much Richka for keeping us all posted on the memorial for Mr. George Zoritch. It certainly seems that he was very loved by his Tucson dance community as well as by all his many fans over the years...I saw him dance when I was perhaps nine or ten years old at the SF Opera House when he was touring with Ballet Russe. The first teacher of my youth danced with this company, so we were very familiar with the ballets and the dancers of the Ballet Russe. I remember thinking at the time that I was seeing a really famous person! My memory (it was a long time ago and I was quite young!) tells me that he danced with Nina Novak...

You are most welcome. It is my priviledge to honor his memory. He lived a very long and interesting life.

You were indeed fortunate, even as a child, to have seen him on the stage and the memory lasts. It was very likely Nina Novak that he danced with but he danced with so many ballerinas. He so often told me about Tamara Toumanova who he idolized. He was so broken hearted when she passed away.

I never saw him on the stage in my youth, of even the Ballet Russe itself. I only saw him dance in films. The ballet scene in "Escape Me Never" was the first, where he danced with Mlada Mladova. He gave me the costume design from Warner Bros for the costume he wore in "Night And Day" starring Gary Grant, Alexis Smith. I also have a photo of him talking with Errol Flynn. These and a collage of photos by another friend will be on display at the memorial celebration. He was always telling me and showing me how the arms of the "Spectre de la Rose" should be danced as he didn't like any of the recent interpretations. The Spectre music will be playing as well as L'apres midi d'un Faune, another of his favorite roles.

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This is a clip from an homage paid to the Ballet Russe men, which shows George in a wheelchair. At the very end there's a moment where, at a curtain call, he salutes the audience using the Spectre's arm movements...It is quite lovely... :o

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This is a clip from an homage paid to the Ballet Russe men, which shows George in a wheelchair. At the very end there's a moment where, at a curtain call, he salutes the audience using the Spectre's arm movements...It is quite lovely... :o

Thank you for posting this Christian. You are right, "It is quite lovely..." I was also struck by the warmth of his smile and the light in his eyes.

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That was lovely! Thank you, Christian...I see my friend, as well. He is Marc Platt.

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