Yuri Soloviev, the real-life dancer Sergei Polunin portrays in "The White Crow"
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Yuri Soloviev / Соловьев, the real-life dancer Sergei Polunin portrays in the film "White Crow," a bio pic about Rudolf Nureyev.
The mention of the name of Yuri Soloviev arouses great excitement from those who were fortunate enough to see him on stage. He was a premier danseur of the Kirov Ballet. A contemporary of Rudolf Nureyev and Mikhail Baryshnikov, Yuri partnered Natalia Makarova, Alla Sizova, among others.
Yuri Vladimirovich Soloviev was born in Leningrad on August 10, 1940. He entered the Leningrad State Choreographic Institute (renamed for Vaganova in 1957) at the age of 9 in his hometown in 1949. His talent was recognised very early on at the school.
He was in the same graduating class at the academy as Rudolf Nureyev. Initially, Soloviev joined the Kirov as a corps member but quickly rose to the rank of soloist. He was Rudolf Nureyev’s roommate during the company’s tour to Paris when that dancer defected to the west during which Soloviev also received rave reviews from the French and British dance critics. In later years Nureyev would often express admiration for Soloviev’s dancing, despite their rivalry.
Soloviev made his debut at the Kirov in the pas de trois from Swan Lake (with Alla Sizova and Natalia Makarova) at a pregraduate performance. Following his performance of the Bluebird pas de deux from The Sleeping Beauty at his graduation in 1958, which caused a sensation and would remain of one his finest achievements, he was immediately accepted into the Kirov Theatre.
He was known as Cosmic Yuri by Western and Soviet audiences for his soaring leaps and Slavic-featured resemblance to Russian Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space. He was compared to Vaslav Nijinsky for his technique, particularly his elevation. In 1961 and 1964, he toured the US and Europe with the Kirov Ballet. His most famous roles were the Bluebird and Prince in The Sleeping Beauty and Solor in La Bayadère. He also originated several roles in new ballets including “Icarus” in the ballet of the same name.
Yuri Soloviev’s mastery was genuinely unique. He had perhaps the most remarkable elevation of any dancer of his generation, but more than the sheer height of these flights, they were combined with a softness, clarity, and ballon seemingly defying gravity. There seemed to be no technical difficulty he was unable to master completely. Soloviev was a sensitive and gifted actor, a master of understatement and taste.
Fortunately his dancing is well preserved on film. There are many archive films of his work in Russia but to most people he will be familiar in the film of The Sleeping Beauty with Alla Sizova, which provides an excellent record of his dance accomplishments, the delicacy of his manner, and a wonderful souvenir of a great ballet partnership.
In 1963 he was awarded the Nijinsky Prize by the Paris Academy of Dance. He was a Gold Medal winner at the Paris International Dance Competition in 1965, and was made a People’s Artist of the USSR in 1973. Despite considerable pressure from the KGB and Kirov management, Soloviev never joined the Communist Party.
He was an intensely private and reserved individual. After Nureyev defected, the pressure on Yuri escalated. He was interrogated by the Soviet authorities numerous times as they figured that he had information concerning the exact circumstances of the defection.
On January 12, 1977 he was found dead from a shotgun wound to his head, presumably self-inflicted. His death, ruled a suicide, devastated his colleagues at the Kirov. He was survived by his wife, ballerina Tatiana Legat and their daughter, dancer Elena Solovieva.
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This is a ballet|балет iMovie by Pam Boehme Simon.