26 October 2011

Ivan Vasiliev - Rocket Man

There is a name being whispered conspiratorially around ballet circles at the moment.  That name is Ivan Vasiliev, or as the popular press is beginning to call him Rocket Man.  At just 21 he is the crown prince of the Bolshoi Ballet and danced the eponymous lead in Khachaturian's Spartacus in London last year.

What is so special about him? Some would say his leonine grace on stage, others his fabulous looks.  Most, however, would agree that it his simply jaw dropping aerial brilliance that has struck audiences.   This boy can dance.  The jumps that he executes are so dazzling, the turns so punishing that even in rehearsals his ballet colleagues stop and applaud him.

At only five foot eight inches Vasiliev is not the typical size of a male lead ballet dancer – they usually come much taller and are – to put it mildly – more lyrically built. Vasiliev on the other hand is positively stocky but this gives him one advantage.  His short but incredibly powerful legs propel him in to the air like the proverbial rocket – and he jumps further than any dancer in modern ballet.

Energy, boundless energy – that is what Vasiliev us all about.  With no previous Bolshoi training the seventeen year old Vasiliev came fourth in a national dance competition and immediately caught the historic company’s eye.

He is being spoken of, too, as the next Baryshnikov, which is something to live up to indeed.  However, most balletomanes agree that we have here the next great Russian dancer.

If this has piqued your interest about Vasiliev and the Bolshoi in general the below video gives a short history of the company.  Also, it shows Vasiliev in two of the roles that have made his name - Spartacus and Don Quixote - with thanks to Dance Channel TV.

Plus, here he is the Golden Idol in La Bayadere.