Adolph Bolm (1884-1951)

Two of the male stars of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in 1909 were Adolph Bolm and Mikhail Mordkin. Bolm was a student at the Imperial School in St. Petersburg and Mordkin was trained at the Bolshoi, in Moscow. They both joined Diaghilev for his Paris season as leading dancers although they ranked above Nijinsky. Diaghilev made sure that the press wrote more about his young favorite.

Bolm was an outstanding character dancer and scored great successes as the chief warrior in Mikhail Fokine's Polovtsian Dances and Pierrot in his Le Carnival. He did not join the 1910 tour, but in 1911 he left the Maryinsky to become a regular member of the new Diaghilev Ballet. After the company's second American tour in 1916 he decided to stay in the United States. In 1918 he was the choreographer for the New York Metropolitan Opera and the Chicago Civic Opera in 1920. Bolm toured South America in 1928 and took up residence in Hollywood where he choreographed many movies. He was the guest choreographer for the first season of the San Francisco Ballet (America's longest performing ballet company) in 1933, and choreographed Peter and the Wolf for Ballet Theatre in 1940. Bolm was one of the pioneers of native American ballet.

(First published April 1995)

Next: Ruthanna Boris (1918 - 2007)