No leaps from the dance legend's path

Russia's renowned Moiseyev Dance Company will be onstage at the Cerritos Center for the Performing Arts on Friday and Saturday as part of a tour dedicated to the 50th anniversary of its first visit to the United States -- and to the memory of its pioneering founder, Igor Moiseyev, who died in November at 101.

The company, which will also appear Sunday at Escondido's California Center for the Arts, is carrying on the legacy of the legendary choreographer, who earned international acclaim with his theatricalized blend of folk dance, classical ballet and sheer spectacle.

Among the program's signature selections will be the Russian "Polyanka," Gypsy dances, the comic "Two Boys in a Fight" and the sailor-themed "Yablotchko." Another dance, "Tatarochka," based on the village life of the Tartars of the Crimea, hasn't been seen before in the U.S., said Moiseyev director Elena Shcherbakova.

Shortly before his death, the ailing founder planned the program himself, "especially for this tour," she said. "For us, Mr. Moiseyev is not dead. He's with us all the time, because we dance all his repertoire."

Indeed, the company and its school have no plans to deviate from Moiseyev's vision. No new artistic director will be appointed, Shcherbakova said.

Instead, ballet masters chosen by Moiseyev are guiding the company as "an artistic collegium," said John Pendleton, manager for the company's American tour.

Each one is responsible for different repertoire, as decided by Moiseyev, who during the last two years of his life, Pendleton said, followed the company's progress via video, offering "a lot of intelligent and detailed plans and advice."

All new choreography will adhere to the Moiseyev style, "because there is nobody who can do the Russian dances like Moiseyev," Shcherbakova said. "Like Tolstoy, Chekhov, like Dostoevsky, there's only one Mr. Moiseyev. He's the person who brought folk dance to the professional stage and proved around all the world that folk dance can be professional art."

-- Lynne Heffley

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World