Staging folk dances with a twist of ballet

The highly acclaimed Moiseyev Ballet returns to Athens – after successful performances many years ago – for four shows at the Arts Center of Halandri, starting tonight and running to Saturday. The company specializes in blending folk dances from around the world with more traditional ballet techniques, reflecting the vision of its founder, Igor Moiseyev, still active today at the age of 98. The Athens performances will feature dances from Russia, Moldova, Mexico, Argentina, Finland and Ukraine among other countries – the company will then travel to northern Greece for more shows at Thessaloniki’s Macedonian Studies Society (December 20 and 21), Veria’s Arts Hall Theater (December 23) and Volos’s Municipal Theater (Christmas Day and Boxing Day). Igor Moiseyev founded the company in 1937, a year after he was appointed ballet master at the Bolshoi Theater, where he was already principal dancer and choreographer. The foundation came shortly after Moiseyev directed the first Festival of Folk Dances, which featured dances from all the provinces of the then Soviet Union. Its success convinced him of the need to form a professional dance company to not only preserve, but also further develop, folk dancing. The company started out with dances from the USSR and then expanded to dances from other countries. «Igor Moiseyev has dedicated his life to the study of all civilizations on all continents,» said current Moiseyev Ballet Director Elena Shcherbakova at yesterday’s press conference. «Despite his age, he is still present at all rehearsals and performances, but was banned by doctors from traveling two years ago,» she added. To this day, the company has toured more than 60 countries and counts an historic performance at New York’s old Metropolitan Opera in 1958, while its current repertoire includes about 300 dances from all over the world. It also boasts a ballet school, founded in 1943, which remains the company’s main source of recruitment. Igor Moiseyev is the recipient of many awards, including the award for «Merit in Developing Cultural Ties between the USA and Russia» (the pianist Van Cliburn and cellist/conductor Mstislav Rostropovich are the only other recipients of this award). Arts Center of Halandri, 53 Garyttou, tel 210.639.3341.