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Igor Youskevitch


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(Calling atm.....)

Youskevitch is high on my list of Dancers I Wish I'd Seen. His name came up on the Favorite Albrechts thread -- and he was considered by many a very great Albrecht. I've only seen bits of film -- bits of Albrecht, and the solo in "Theme and Variations," which I've never seen anyone, live, come close to matching in speed and power.

Describe Youskevitch to me. Is there anyone since who was like him? He had an interesting beginning -- as an athlete, not a dancer, and was a very late starter. Bruhn lists him as a role model, which is curious, as they seem to have been very different.

I'm also curious as to whether he "fit in" to ABT, the way Baryshnikov did, or if he was always obviously a European dancer?

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I hope I can do Youskevitch justice by trying to describe him. Bruhn probably admired his refined demeanor. Where Bruhn had a lyric elegance, there was a masculine simplicity about Youskevitch's classicism. During the war years whenever he was on furlough from the Navy he performed with the Ballet Russe and I saw him in Massine's Le Beau Danube and also performing the ribbon dance in "The Red Poppy" However, I saw him mainly with Ballet Theatre. At th e time he fit beautifully into the Company--there was simply no other Danseur Noble around (my apologies to Anton Dolin!) He had a good, clean technique, but not an elegant one (such as a Malakhov). He was a most wonderful Albrecht to Alonso, and he was the only Albrecht I saw who (in the 2nd Act) would catch in mid-air the lillies Giselle threw over her head. With a lesser dancer it could have looked like a circus act. One had the feeling that anything coming from Giselle must never be allowed to touch the ground. It invariably amuses me when most Albrecht's have to scurry and bend down to retrieve the lillies.

I agree with you completely, Alexandra, about "Theme". Balanchine captured his qualities beautifully. And that wonderful diagonal with the tours and pirouettes was what he was all about. He also took on Tudor in "Shadow of the Wind". The ballet was not a success at the time, although I'd love to see it again.

Also, there is the Gene Kelly (1952) movie with him--"Invitation to the Dance"

A tough question--"Who is most like him today?---I have my eye on Belotserkovsky.

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Thanks, atm for the wonderful memories. Igor Youskevitch has a special place in the way Cuban male dancers created their own style. This is a name that Mme. Alonso has always revered, and I remember countless times during interviews and the like in which she would talk about him with such much passion and, above all, a profound respect. On her eyes there has been no male dancer in history who could compare to him on the subject of partnership. When faced with Mme's visual impairment, he developed the ability to always be right where she was supposed to land, let's say, during a daring fish dive. She had total confidence on him. Sometimes she would start running in a diagonal and wouldn't realize that she wasn't going exactly his way, but instead she was running like in a curve. Well, apparently he would move quickly onstage so the mistakes were not that noticeable, and she says that she always KNEW that he would be there for her. During the formative years of the Cuban ballet she decided that she wanted Youskevitch as a role model for her men to look at and shape their style...masculine, stylized, ATTENTIVE.


Also, there is the Gene Kelly (1952) movie with him--"Invitation to the Dance"

And here it is...

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I never saw Youskevitch on stage, but my husband who did once said that the moment he stepped on stage to start his varition in Theme and Vaariations "you knew that you were going to see a Great dancer". And it's not a description that he (the husband) uses lightly.

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