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George Zoritch (June 6, 1917 – November 1, 2009) an international star in the rival Ballet Russe companies who stood out for his matinee-idol looks and bold stage presence and who later became one of American ballet's respected teachers, died in Tucson, where he lived, on November 1, 2009. He was 92. (Picture: George Zoritch by Carl Van Vechten, 1942)

The acclaimed 2005 documentary "Ballets Russes" offered filmgoers here and abroad a taste of Mr. Zoritch's vivid personality. At one point in the film he and the ballerina Nathalie Krassovska, both in their 80s, relived their past partnership in a segment from "Giselle," punctuating their mime with spicy comments.

In his memoir, "Ballet Mystique" (2000), Mr. Zoritch readily recognized that he was not a bravura technician. He felt that artistry was more important than technique for dancers like him, who joined the Russian migr troupes that succeeded Serge Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in the 1930s. Often they used variations on that company's name.

"What made the Ballet Russe so successful was that it was composed of half-starved ballet-craving dancers who gave everything from their inner souls," he told The Los Angeles Times in 2007.

Mr. Zoritch opened a ballet school in West Hollywood in 1964, two years after the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, in which he was the mainstay, was dissolved. He taught at the University of Arizona in Tucson from 1973 to 1987 and more recently served on the jury at the Perm ballet competitions in Russia.

George Zoritch by George Platt-Lynes

Born in Moscow on June 6, 1917, he moved after the Russian revolution with his mother and brother to Kovno, Lithuania, where he first studied ballet. Mr. Zoritch, who leaves no immediate survivors, then settled in Paris at 14 and studied with the Maryinsky ballerina Olga Preobrajenska, who also trained the "baby ballerinas" promoted by George Balanchine.

Mr. Zoritch's career took a peripatetic path through the companies led by other Russian migr s. After dancing with Ida Rubinstein's troupe in 1933, he performed with the Russian Classical Ballet, organized by Anna Pavlova's widower, Victor Dandr , then joined Bronislava Nijinska's Ballets Russes de Paris in 1935.

His declared mentor was the choreographer Leonide Massine. Mr. Zoritch starred in Massine's works with both Col. W. de Basil's Ballets Russes, which he joined in 1936, and the rival Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, which he joined in 1938. He remained with that troupe until 1962, one of its last veterans. He had also been a principal in the 1940s and 1950s with the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. Along the way he appeared in Broadway musicals and a few Hollywood films, like "Samson and Delilah" (1949).

With his good looks, elegant line and charismatic projection in title roles in "Afternoon of a Faun" and "Le Spectre de la Rose," he never went unnoticed. In a typical comment in the 1950s, the French critic Irine Lidova compared him to the "Greek youths sculpted by Praxiteles."

Burial: Cremated, Ashes scattered at sea.

Source: http://groups.google.com/group/alt.obituaries/browse_thread/thread/9b39dc1cc6387479?pli=1

George Zoritch in Rouge et Noir, 1939

George Zoritch and NiniTheilade in Rouge et Noir, 1939

George Zoritch in L'Apres-midi d'un Faune by Vaslav Nijinsky, 1937

George Zoritch in L'Apres-midi d'un Faune by Vaslav Nijinsky, 1937

Further Readings:

Ballet Mystique, Behind the Glamour of the Ballet Russe by George Zoritch
Hardcover: 306 pages
Publisher: Cynara Editions; 1ST edition (2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0967833914
ISBN-13: 978-0967833910
Amazon: Ballet Mystique, Behind the Glamour of the Ballet Russe

"Told in the voice of one of its most respected exponents, this is the amazing story of a life in the era of the Russian Ballet after Diaghilev. The struggles and triumphs, intriques and creative insights of George Zoritch constitute the personal testament of a distinguished dance artist whose career spanned the great years of ballet in the twentieth century." "This First Edition is Limited to One Thousand Copies."

Dying Swans and Madmen: Ballet, the Body, and Narrative Cinema by Adrienne L. McLean
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Rutgers University Press (May 30, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0813542804
ISBN-13: 978-0813542805
Amazon: Dying Swans and Madmen: Ballet, the Body, and Narrative Cinema

From mid-twentieth-century films such as Grand Hotel, Waterloo Bridge, and The Red Shoes to recent box-office hits including Billy Elliot, Save the Last Dance, and The Company, ballet has found its way, time and again, onto the silver screen and into the hearts of many otherwise unlikely audiences. In "Dying Swans and Madmen", Adrienne L. McLean explores the curious pairing of classical and contemporary, art and entertainment, high culture and popular culture to reveal the ambivalent place that this art form occupies in American life.Drawing on examples that range from musicals to tragic melodramas, she shows how commercial films have produced an image of ballet and its artists that is associated both with joy, fulfillment, fame, and power and with sexual and mental perversity, melancholy, and death. Although ballet is still received by many with a lack of interest or outright suspicion, McLean argues that these attitudes as well as ballet's popularity and its acceptability as a way of life and a profession have often depended on what audiences first learned about it from the movies.

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