In commemoration of Vladimir Vasiliev


In the title part in Spartacus. Photo by Elena Fetisova.

27 May 1962
Vasiliev performed Basil for the first time.

This debut can boldly top up the list of virtues of our Don Quixote (and we could count so many – comedy-ballet of all time, major Moscow classic ballet staged at the Bolshoi Theatre by Petipa, and others). There was such enormous work put into the part that repetiteur of a young Vasiliev, outstanding dancer virtuoso Alexei Ermolaev, was so nervous to the extent of not being able to join the audience to see the result. Instead, he wandered around in the neighborhood. Meanwhile, a new Basil was born. He legitimized complex pyrotechnics, which were incorporated into the text of the role. He has also launched the tradition of dancing this part wearing black costume, which made the pattern of dance more graphically enhanced.

“On May this year, Vladimir Vasiliev performed in Don Quixote for the first time, and I won't’ be mistaken to say that he opened a new era in the history of male classic dance... He introduced a new benchmark which became classic worldwide, not just in our country. So much was written about Vasilev’s Basil. I would like to use just one quote: “Powerful, exultant jump, honed mastery of virtuoso, dynamics and expressive movements”. These words belong to Vakhtang Chabukiani. Vasiliev birthed new criteria not only for Don Quixote, but in regards to the male dance in general” (Yury Grigorovich).

12 March 1966
Premiere of the famous version of the Nutcracker by Grigorovich. First performers of the leading parts – Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev.

Grigorovich, leaving for a journey into the country of a Christmas tree, chose courageous and trustworthy companions who fulfilled all planned twists of the plot and emotional nuances. Fragility of a childhood dream, inevitability of growing old, joy of the first fascination and the bitterness of the first disappointment, readiness to come to a rescue, to rush into the battle and to go down the aisle... It can be easily extracted from their dance – delicate, virtuosic, filled with passion and very sincere for expression of the feelings.

9 April 1968
Premiere of the famous Spartacus by Grigorovich.
Vladimir Vasiliev – first Spartacus, Ekaterina Maximova – first Phrygia.

On the eve of his 28th birthday, Vladimir Vasiliev had performed both his key and fateful role. This ballet immediately became a sensation of the theatre season, and in the following years it acquired the status of a must see among broad viewers segments. Spartacus' fame spread around the Globe. The fact is that even now, throughout different epochs and times, despite the “ideological” type of questions, which the critics tend to raise, this ballet is still in demand among international viewers. Huge merit of this belongs to the first performer of the title part. His flight full of will for the victory, his passion and pain in the battle scenes, his incredible tenderness in dialogues with Phrygia left the footprint forever for this part and made it a benchmark. Boris Godunov is one of the most repertory Russian operas in the West not only because it is a great opera, but also because the Western audience watched it for the first time with Shalyapin in the main role. Such alliances of performers and scores are indeed made in heaven. “Every time I picture Volodya, I see him flying. That is not only because he has an amazing jump. His heroes themselves are soured into the sky. They possess such a hope, such a pursuit to the light, and they surpass themselves in order to walk all the way till the end despite whatever happens in life – doubts, troubles or fights” (Galina Ulanova).

7 September 2020
And The Eternal Light Will Shine

World premiere – Tatar State Opera and Ballet Theatre. Vladimir Vasiliev, stage director, choreographer, performer of the title role: “I am not sure how to identify the genre of this performance. Is it even important anyway? It absorbs all the strengths of the music theatre. Mozart’s Requiem is not only a brilliant piece of the great musician; it is the confession of the Painter. In addition, it is not only Farewell with the hope to find eternal peace, but also a hymn to a contemplating life.”