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My Teacher, My Friend, is Gone!The Passing of a Dear Friend


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#1 JamesPDX

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 02:17 AM

I was shocked upon reading an article from the New York Times while researching an unrelated technical topic for my business. The headline read “Premier Dancer in Ballet Russe Companies, Dies at age 92” (Ballets Russes). After reading the name several times in disbelief, I was deeply saddened with tears running down my cheeks and short fast breaths while everything seemed to fall inward. The passing of a most dear friend for nearly 30 years was realized at that moment.

As reality sank in, I saw the day “Sunday”, and wanted to know what time, and then which Sunday? I frantically read every word for more detail, but found nothing. I began searching the Internet until, to my horror, that I was 2 ½ years late in finding out. At that moment, I decided that it was time for me to become active again in the community of Dance in order to hear of anything related to my former friends and fine arts classmates, and maybe make contact as I might. I signed up for an account on 'Ballet Alert'.

George "Yuri" Zoritch was my teacher of Ballet while attending the University of Arizona from 1976 to 1981. Although I was not a true dancer, I participated in several senior and faculty project presentations at the dance studio (Room 128, I think it was: after all these years). My favorite dance was a senior dance major’s project concert, of which I was under Sr. Janlin Mallas, with whom I shared many thoughts and private moments. A video was made of that performance, but I never saw the results. There were other relationships as well in that mix of beautiful bodies and movements through ballet taught by Yuri. It was a personal family of dancers, and I suppose that this could summarize much of the feelings shared by most all dancers as they one day in their future, come to understand this.

Yuri was one of the most charismatic gentleman’s gentleman that I have ever had the eminence pleasure of knowing as a teacher, and a friend. As a teacher or person, I have never known him to ever be unkind, cruel, or disrespectful of anyone. He would often gesture with phrases in a wonderful comical way, to those who understood his character, early training, cultural background, teaching abilities, and vast professional experiences (dance classes, rehearsals, stage, film), his point of view about students coming to class late, not performing to their given abilities, chewing gum like cows chewing stomach cud, wearing their long hair and down over their short necks, having ornate jewelry hanging from their bodies, walking like cows with protruding derrières, heavy flapping feet like circus entertainers, etc.. We learned a lot from him. He was my teacher and a personal friend.

Richard Holden "Richka" described very elegantly on November 2, 2009 at 07:04, about memories that I have of being with Yuri in his home in Tucson, thank you Richard. I often slept in the guest room and we had shared many meals together in the kitchen and the patio. When you are ready to review his videos? Please allow me to participate. Maybe you could keep an eye open for the senior dance recital.

Richard, have you or anyone heard from and anything about Leila (I do not recall the spelling) from her studio in Texas? She was his favorite girlfriends and came to visit with him periodically. They were always discussing differences of opinion. She was a very lovely person.

Thank you Richard, I read much of what you wrote herein and did in his honor. I believe that Yuri introduced us in the summer of 2000. I’ll add more at a later time, but now, I need to get some rest.

#2 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 02:35 PM

Such beautiful words...Mr. Zoritch must have touched more than one soul around...

Welcome to Ballet Alert, James..! Posted Image

#3 Bonnette

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 06:26 PM

I, too, welcome you to Ballet Alert. My heartfelt condolences to you on your loss, and also appreciation for the beautiful way you have eulogized your friend and teacher.

#4 bart

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Posted 23 March 2012 - 06:32 PM

Thank you, James PDX, for your touching post. I hope you will continue sharing with us on Ballet Alert.

For those members and other readers who may have missed earlier tributes to Mr. Zoritch, here are the Links:
http://balletalert.i...__fromsearch__1
http://balletalert.i...__fromsearch__1
http://balletalert.i...__fromsearch__1

#5 Ballet Foot

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Posted 27 March 2012 - 02:49 PM

[size=3]I know how you feel, James PDX.....I found out about Mr. Zoritch's death 6 months afther his death. As you, this was how I was introduced to Ballet Alert. He was a very major part of my ballet training and experiences during my growing up years. He took me under his wing & was responsible for my having many wonderful memories of the Ballet Russe & Bolshoi dancers.. It is very sad when such a great artist grand jetes from this life, but we must be grateful that we had the opportunity to be exposed to his artistry & vast wealth of knowledge.

You asked about Leila or LaLa.. If this is the same person who had a school in Texas, I believe that she lived in Zoritch's house after the death of her husband. She died several yeras ago. Did you also know Ashe King, who was a great friend of his?

I am glad that you are going to be a part of this wonderful "Ballet Alert" site & its extraordinarily knowledgeable members.[/size]

#6 Hamorah

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 06:04 AM

If I am not mistaken, George Zoritch was featured in the wonderful documentary film (available on DVD) on the Ballet Russes. I haven't watched it recently, but I'm pretty sure he was in it. If you can get your hands on a copy, it would definitely be worth your while to watch it.

It's very special how important our ballet teachers can be to us. I was heartbroken when Errol Addison died and have never forgotten him or his wonderful classes.

#7 puppytreats

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 07:10 AM

If I am not mistaken, George Zoritch was featured in the wonderful documentary film (available on DVD) on the Ballet Russes. I haven't watched it recently, but I'm pretty sure he was in it. If you can get your hands on a copy, it would definitely be worth your while to watch it.

It's very special how important our ballet teachers can be to us. I was heartbroken when Errol Addison died and have never forgotten him or his wonderful classes.


He is in the documentary and is wonderful in it.

#8 cubanmiamiboy

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 09:14 AM


If I am not mistaken, George Zoritch was featured in the wonderful documentary film (available on DVD) on the Ballet Russes. I haven't watched it recently, but I'm pretty sure he was in it. If you can get your hands on a copy, it would definitely be worth your while to watch it.

It's very special how important our ballet teachers can be to us. I was heartbroken when Errol Addison died and have never forgotten him or his wonderful classes.


He is in the documentary and is wonderful in it.


Yes, he is, and they show him at a gym doing some weights..! Posted Image The excerpts with him trying to follow a bossy Krassovska around in a studio complaining in Russian while attempting at rehearsing a bit of Giselle is priceless. They're both so charming and cute..they even shared a French kiss on the lips there...Posted Image Posted Image

#9 Hamorah

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Posted 09 April 2012 - 11:55 AM

Oh yes - that Giselle rehearsal was, as you said, priceless! I must watch the film again. What I loved about it was the elderly dancers' enthusiasm and obvious dedication to the profession. The light just shone in their eyes when they talked about their dancing days.........

#10 Richka

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Posted 07 May 2012 - 12:17 PM

Hello James,
So you were just now reading about George Zoritch and his obituary?. I am the one who put his obituary here but it was quite some time ago. I'm surprised it is still on this web site. George's last words were to me, Goodbye Richka after he had spent 4 weeks in hospital after a fall. I can tell you details if you like and can share so much with you about Yuri since he was your teacher and my friend living close by my house, and the memorial I arranged for him at the very studio at UA where he taught for all those years. Actually I think I met you once at Yuri's house, quite a few years ago. Anyway, my email is greyhound@richka.net
if you care to be in touch. Cheers, Richard

#11 Richka

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Posted 04 August 2012 - 04:54 PM

[font="Times New Roman"][size="3"]Dear JamesPDX[/size][/font]
[font="Times New Roman"][size="3"]Was just ambling through some old postings on Ballet Alert web site and came across yours about Yuri Zoritch. I was curious who JamesPDX was, then found that I had actually written to you, perhaps one or two years ago in response to your posting.[/size][/font]
[font="Times New Roman"][size="3"]However as far as I know I never received a response. Several months ago I had severe surgeries for cancer so may have just been out of touch.[/size][/font]
[font="Times New Roman"][size="3"]I've looked for you here on BalletTalk but apparently you are perhaps not even a member any longer. Anyway, if this does reach you and you are even remotley interested, I would be delighted to hear from you. Richka[/size][/font]

#12 JamesPDX

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Posted 17 October 2012 - 09:16 PM

Richard, I’m not sure that I was a member and contributed 2 or 3 years ago. If I was, please accept my apology for not returning your correspondence. I’m sure however, that we met in George’s home over dinner. There were many people with whom I met through him.

Yes, I had read that you were responsible for the comments and activities at U of A as you stated above. I believe that neither of us recalls the other specifically (connecting a face to the name). But that is not so important at this juncture. The point is that we, as well as many others, knew George or Yuri on the social and personal side of things. I helped him with his computer, and a small part of his book. He often called and honored me with the title of ‘professor’. We often shared recipes and drink concoctions, along with many meals that we both would prepare. George shared several interesting private comments (pro and con) about the character of those performers as he knew them all those years ago (including the management), as we went through old photos and at the reunion as he recalled earlier times.

I saw most of the films with George “Yuri” in them. I have a few photos from the reunion in New Orleans, and somewhere, a Dutch video taken of the presentations and recorded in European format (50 cycles). There are the films that featured his dancing that we might see again. I can without reservation recommend the “Ballet Russes” by Dayna Goldfine and Dan Geller. It does have footage of the foremost leaders of those days. While do not recall off hand, I believe that it had little on the Primer Dancer George Zoritch. I’ll need to review it again to be sure. It brought tears to my eyes the last time I saw it. It featured mostly the ladies (ballerinas) and is a very well done video, in my humble opinion: well worth the cost. I would like to have seen more of him and still desire his missed company.

YES, Ballet Foot. Lala was the wonderful lady that came to visit Yuri several times that I recall (and I’m sure more than that). She was so patient with him and his remarks. Oh! He never said anything ever, to anyone that was even remotely offensive or hurtful, just a few well-earned jabs in general to students during some classes. He had such a wonderful way of saying things. Lala was married and lived with her husband in Texas, and she had a studio in Texas, I never met her husband or visited her studio. She was a real dream of a lady. The three of had some good intellectual conversations. She was a very good friend to him, and I think more if he were receptive and she were not already married. And there were many other wonderful people that I was introduced to who were in that well thought of by him.

There was a student who graduated from the U of A dance department (ballet) who moved on the Ringling Brothers Barnum & Bailey Circus, and ride bareback on the horses. Most of the students went into teaching privately and in various studios. It was and still is a most difficult profession to make a more than respectable living at. There were so many people who went in to the fine arts for the love of it.

Richard, did you say that you had some videos of dance productions? I would really like to see some of them. There was a senior recital by the graduating seniors and the professors (dance teachers) that I would like to see. John Wilson, Ph.D. in fine arts, was (that I recall) a most gifted choreographer in modern dance. His works were inspiring and outside the envelope, as it were.

Janlin Mallis (BA in Dance) was a very special person and good friend during those days, and I would really like to see her again. If anyone has any contact information on her, it would be most appreciated. My name is James "Michael" Harnett.

#13 Ballet Foot

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Posted 22 October 2012 - 12:10 PM

I might suggest that you contact the Alumni Association of University of Arizona. They may have updated info. on you friend's whereabouts. Also, the Dance Dept may be an easier way to find the video for which you are looking. I would assume they have cataloged the student/professor performances for thieir archives. Thank you for the additional info re LaLa. Actually, I studied/perfomred w/Mr. Zoritch in Texas in summers, as well as else where. He use to take me w/him to the summer serminars, riding in his gray Jaguar convertible at 90mph. If I can be of help to you, pls. don't hesitate to contact me. through this site's member rooster. Would be delightful to exchange stories.


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