Richka

George Zoritch: a dancer to remember.

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George Zoritch, who died in 2009 at the age of 92, was premier danseur of the Ballet Russe and other ballet companies, Broadway musicals and Hollywood films.

Since his death, his house, which had been on probate for a year has been remodled and is currently for sale. His furniture was put on auction.

During his lifetime Zoritch collected a vast amount of memorabilia of the ballet world including autographed pictures and paintings by mostly all of the famous dancers of his generation as well as contemporary. He knew them all! During his latter years he made regular journeys from his home in Tucson, Arizona to Perm, Russia and the estate of Serge Diaghilev, to judge ballet competitions along with Yuri Grigorovitch, Vladimir Vasiliev and other great dancers and choreographers of the Bolshoi and Maryinsky theaters.

His collection also includes statues, the Nijinsky and Diaghilev awards and many other artifacts and mementos.

The entire collection has been given to Kaatsbaan; a dance center in upState New York where it is my understanding they will eventually be put on exhibition.

I have been a friend and neighbor of Mr. Zoritch since retiring here to Tucson, but as a boy I knew him from his movies.

Richard Holden

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George Zoritch, who died in 2009 at the age of 92, was premier danseur of the Ballet Russe and other ballet companies, Broadway musicals and Hollywood films.

Since his death, his house, which had been on probate for a year has been remodled and is currently for sale. His furniture was put on auction.

During his lifetime Zoritch collected a vast amount of memorabilia of the ballet world including autographed pictures and paintings by mostly all of the famous dancers of his generation as well as contemporary. He knew them all! During his latter years he made regular journeys from his home in Tucson, Arizona to Perm, Russia and the estate of Serge Diaghilev, to judge ballet competitions along with Yuri Grigorovitch, Vladimir Vasiliev and other great dancers and choreographers of the Bolshoi and Maryinsky theaters.

His collection also includes statues, the Nijinsky and Diaghilev awards and many other artifacts and mementos.

The entire collection has been given to Kaatsbaan; a dance center in upState New York where it is my understanding they will eventually be put on exhibition.

I have been a friend and neighbor of Mr. Zoritch since retiring here to Tucson, but as a boy I knew him from his movies.

Richard Holden

KAATSBAAN is the perfect place for these items!!! Thank you for the heads up!

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What a privilege it must have been to know Mr. Zoritch! I am glad that the collection has been donated to this dance-related group.

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Thanks for telling us about it, Richka. Could you tell us more about Mir. Zoritch...? He belongs to that particular group of dancers from BRdMC that didn't seem to have tried to get into BT or NYCB when those companies were born, and so it is kind of hard to track his career from the currently existing autobiographies of other dancers. I've been tempted several times to buy his book, but I think the only time I saw it on Ebay-(or Amazon?)-it was too expensive, so I'm waiting for the chance to come up. Meanwhile, tell us about him, Richka! :flowers:

If anything, he's placed within my top three picks of the most beautiful male dancers list. :clapping:

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You're in good company, CubanMiamiBoy. When I was a student at the University of Arizona, I took class from Mr. Zoritch, so when doing some ballet history research, his name naturally caught my eye. While he was dancing he was called "The Most Beautiful Man in the World."

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In the film "Ballets Russes," the first shot of Maria Tallchief shows her rolling her eyes saying (something like) "George Zoritch, Oh, George Zoritch, oh he was just the handsomest man ever!.... "

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George Zoritch, who died in 2009 at the age of 92, was premier danseur of the Ballet Russe and other ballet companies, Broadway musicals and Hollywood films.

Since his death, his house, which had been on probate for a year has been remodled and is currently for sale. His furniture was put on auction.

During his lifetime Zoritch collected a vast amount of memorabilia of the ballet world including autographed pictures and paintings by mostly all of the famous dancers of his generation as well as contemporary. He knew them all! During his latter years he made regular journeys from his home in Tucson, Arizona to Perm, Russia and the estate of Serge Diaghilev, to judge ballet competitions along with Yuri Grigorovitch, Vladimir Vasiliev and other great dancers and choreographers of the Bolshoi and Maryinsky theaters.

His collection also includes statues, the Nijinsky and Diaghilev awards and many other artifacts and mementos.

The entire collection has been given to Kaatsbaan; a dance center in upState New York where it is my understanding they will eventually be put on exhibition.

I have been a friend and neighbor of Mr. Zoritch since retiring here to Tucson, but as a boy I knew him from his movies.

Richard Holden

May 7th, 2011. Not too sure I'm doing this right but several have asked for more about George Zoritch. I thought I had started a blog here but appears I can only add to it by 'reply'. If someone can help with how this should be done better, I'm all ears.

Anyway, this is a START.

Briefly, when I moved to Tucson, Arizona in 1987 who should I find living here but George. Of course I knew him by reputation and saw him in movies when I was a lad of 14. In fact he was my original inspiration to begin to learn dancing. He was the very first male ballet dancer I had ever seen, if only on film. I never saw him on the stage.

I soon became acquainted with him because he was in a ballet class that I did every morning. He had retired from teaching at the University of Arizona here. He would only do the barre in that class, then leave. I think he was in his early 70s then. He was also a member of my health club and lifted weights and used the machines. (The film "Ballets Russes") has clips of him doing this).

Because I am Russian speaking (to a degree) we became friends. As my house is in same neighborhood I visited him very often and stopped by usually on Sunday mornings on my way to church to drop off my dog SONYA until I returned. He would always have tea an pastries ready. He would also take care of SONYA while I was out of town. He LOVED Sonya and Sonya loved him ..... I think more than she loved me. Pets appear to take you for granted don't they. He had a little dog, Sammy, who was always glad to see Sonya. Sonya felt right at home in George's house and would jump on his lap to sit.

We went to Las Vegas together once and saw a show. Also the Nevada Dance company, led by his friend Vassily Sulich. Long story later about a special dining event at the Tropicana Hotel.

Yuri (his nickname in Russian) or Yurochka, told me many stories of his days with the Ballet Russe and those he danced with and partnered. I have tales about that, as they relate to him. I can go into those later if anyone is interested. He was starting to write his book "Ballet Mystique" about that time but his skills at the computer were, let's say, limited. I helped him choose photos for the book, or at least offered my opinion of what to use. In the end of course they were his own choice. The Russian edition of his book has many more photos, some in color. That edition is doing very well in Russia so I am told. I have a box full of the American edition.

I'll leave this for now with one memory; about "Le Spectre de la Rose". He was always telling and showing me how it should be done, especially the arms which he felt were done all wrong today. Also about the costume with one shoulder bare.

He made regular trips to Perm, Russia to judge competitions. Funny story about when he returned in middle of night but had forgotten key to his house and slept in the garden of his neighbor until sunrise. He was then in his late 80s.

Perhaps this is enough for now. More later, and about Kaatsbaan in upstate New York, where his collection was given. Comments are welcome and will let me know if I should continue this or not, and if it's in the right place and mode.

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Funny story about when he returned in middle of night but had forgotten key to his house and slept in the garden of his neighbor until sunrise. He was then in his late 80s.

:P

Comments are welcome and will let me know if I should continue this or not, and if it's in the right place and mode.

Count me among the interested ones! I LOVE stories of those stars from the past, so keep'em coming...! :wub:

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Yes i will be glad to continue. I'm full of stories but wanted to know if I'm doing it right and in the right place. Not sure if 'reply' is correct mode for this. I suppose I should really know more about Ballet Alert before even thinking of adding things but it's a tremendous site to take in and one can just get lost unless an administrator like you who knows way around.

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... one can just get lost unless an administrator like you who knows way around.

Oh, I'm not a mod, Richka, but thanks for the flattering assumption...! :P

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Oh, I would also LOVE to read more of your recollections!

Thank you for taking the time to write them here!

-d-

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Oh, I would also LOVE to read more of your recollections!

Thank you for taking the time to write them here!

Same here, these are so enjoyable.

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Oh, I would also LOVE to read more of your recollections!

Thank you for taking the time to write them here!

Same here, these are so enjoyable.

Thanks so much.I have MANY more memories of Yuri on the ready as the plan was to do a series, but first I must know more about how to do it. I'm not sure I'm going about it in correct way, meaning; isn't it supposed to be a blog and not a 'reply'? Or is it supposed to be in form of a FORUM? Can't seem to find out from anyone and I don't have time to take up a total STUDY of the workings of BalletTalk or Ballet Alert, because it's such a VAST site with so many avenues. BTW, it's even difficult to get into it as there are several Ballet Alerts online to choose to get right one.

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isn't it supposed to be a blog and not a 'reply'?

Hi Richka, here are the instructions on how to set up a Ballet Alert blog. I think your recollections would make a lovely blog.

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Thanks, Richka. I would enjoy your memories of Mr. Zoritch's later years.....As a young girl, I saw him dance many times with Ballet Russe....one of the most memorable was in "Gaite Parisienne". Even so young, I knew I was in presence of a great artist as well as dancer. Over the years, I studied with him whenever BR was in our area..... and every summer in whatever city he held sessions & performances. I was fortunate enough to see one of his last performances of "Giselle" w/N. Krassovska . Although, in his fifties, his technique and artistry would rival that of any of the dancers of today. I had the privilege of being one of the few permitted to attend the rehearsals. He was always very kind to me, took me under his wing, and provided a young dancer with many wonderful experiences and exposure to the great artists of that day (including attending Bolshoi classes with him). He was so much a part of my growing up years as a dancer. I appreciate your taking the time to let us be a part of the sunset years of this great artist.

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Thanks, Richka. I would enjoy your memories of Mr. Zoritch's later years.....As a young girl, I saw him dance many times with Ballet Russe....one of the most memorable was in "Gaite Parisienne". Even so young, I knew I was in presence of a great artist as well as dancer. Over the years, I studied with him whenever BR was in our area..... and every summer in whatever city he held sessions & performances. I was fortunate enough to see one of his last performances of "Giselle" w/N. Krassovska . Although, in his fifties, his technique and artistry would rival that of any of the dancers of today. I had the privilege of being one of the few permitted to attend the rehearsals. He was always very kind to me, took me under his wing, and provided a young dancer with many wonderful experiences and exposure to the great artists of that day (including attending Bolshoi classes with him). He was so much a part of my growing up years as a dancer. I appreciate your taking the time to let us be a part of the sunset years of this great artist.

Thankyou for letting me know of your association with Mr. Zoritch while in your 'growing up' years. I plan on making my memories of him as I knew him in his latter years (age 72 to 92) eventually into a BLOG.

You were indeed fortunate to see him dance with the Ballets Russes. I never saw him on the stage; only in three Hollywood films but feel AS IF I did as he told me so much about those times. When you studied with him was it at his school in West Hollywood? I would appreciate any further comments that you might care to share. Richka

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MEMORIES OF GEORGE ZORITCH - PART TWO

Three Days in Las Vegas

George Zoritch was a home person. When he retired after 18 years of teaching at the University Of Arizona, he so much enjoyed his house; a villa style in the foothills of the Tucson Mountains overlooking the city of Tucson.

Once I suggested we take a trip to Las Vegas. I frequently went to Vegas alone, not to gamble but to see the shows; an 8 hour drive; if speeding. I always stayed at the LUXOR since its opening day in 1993. Built as a pyramid with slanted elevators to the rooms, everything was in the Egyptian style of decor (It has since changed). Originally it had a spectacular show beneath the pyramid that I saw many times. The magnificent Court of the Pharoah, even the river Nile, with chariot races, a parade of camels and elephants and over 200 dancers; all in spectacular ancient Egyptian costumes. Sadly, after two years it was all discarded; probably because the management felt it was not really of interest to the usual type of Vegas visitors. They replaced it with a night club and rock bands.

We stayed at the Hilton. I liked to visit other hotels on the strip but George wanted to stay in his room. He would have been in his 80s then.

I had tickets for the Debbie Reynolds Theater; part of her own hotel that she sadly lost soon after. We had a table directly in front of the stage. George was delighted with the show, especially when the star chatted with me as part of the show. After the show he even stood in line for an autograph from the star.

Then there was the Nevada Dance Theater, run by George's friend of long ago, Vassili Sulich. Vassili started his ballet company as an artistic outlet for the classically trained dancers on the Vegas strip. After the performance we were invited to a dinner at the Tropicana where Vassili had once been a headliner. It was in a special dining room, hosted by the Tropicana management. George, always the reconteur, made himself the main attraction with his vast stock of stories. I was quiet and waiting; as is usual at events such as this. Vegetarians are habitually forced to wait patiently until everyone else has finished; then, invariably, a plate of three steamed vegetables arrives! Chefs usually have no imagination when it comes to vegetarians!

George was obviously glad to get back home to Tucson.

Next: Visitors from Russia.

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Richka, what a nice recounting of the visits to Las Vegas, thank you!

I can just imagine it - Mr Zoritch telling stories at dinner, while you had to wait. :)

(by the way, as for being a vegetarian at such dinners - so true! As I eat vegan, I usually just bring my own food. ;) )

-d-

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On Thursday, August 27 at 3:30 pm Eastern, Turner Classic Movies will air the Cole Porter "biopic" Night and Day. The biggest production number, to "Begin the Beguine," revolves around Milada Mladova and George Zoritch. If you don't care to watch the entire film, the number comes toward the end.

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/84815/Night-and-Day/

Mladova and Zoritch are also featured in Escape Me Never, which airs on November 4 at 8:00 am. In both cases LeRoy Prinz was the choreographer.

http://www.tcm.com/tcmdb/title/136/Escape-Me-Never/

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