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Andre Prokovsky, dancer and ballet choreography

Andre Prokovsky performed with Melissa Hayden in a stage version of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,’’ as well as many other productions for the New York City Ballet. Andre Prokovsky performed with Melissa Hayden in a stage version of Tchaikovsky’s “The Nutcracker,’’ as well as many other productions for the New York City Ballet. (Martha Swope)
By Jack Anderson
New York Times / August 22, 2009

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NEW YORK - Andre Prokovsky, who performed and choreographed around the world and was a former principal dancer with the New York City Ballet, died yesterday near Beausoleil, the village in the south of France where he lived. He was 70.

The cause was cancer, for which he had been hospitalized, said Mark Kappel, his agent in New York.

Solidly built, Mr. Prokovsky could move with tremendous energy on stage and be a secure, attentive partner. As a principal dancer with the New York City Ballet from 1963 to 1967, he created roles in George Balanchine’s “Pas de Deux and Divertissement’’ (1965) and “Brahms-Schoenberg Quartet’’ (1966); Melissa Hayden was his ballerina in both.

Born of Russian parents in Paris on Jan. 13, 1939, Mr. Prokovsky studied ballet with various Parisian teachers and made his stage debut stage in 1954 with the Comedie-Francaise, in a production of Moliere’s “Amants Magnifiques.’’ He danced in troupes directed by important French choreographers including Janine Charrat and Roland Petit before going to London and joining the London Festival Ballet as a soloist in 1957. After attracting attention as the Prince in “The Nutcracker,’’ he was promoted to principal dancer in 1958.

Mr. Prokovsky became a principal dancer of the Grand Ballet of the Marquis de Cuevas in 1960, went on to the New York City Ballet in 1963, and returned to London Festival Ballet in 1967. There he established a popular and much-praised dancing partnership with the ballerina Galina Samsova, who was also his wife at the time; their marriage ended in divorce.

In 1962 he and Samsova formed the New London Ballet, which toured extensively through Britain and elsewhere in Europe, Asia, South America, and parts of the United States. The troupe’s varied repertory included Prokovsky’s first choreographic efforts.

After the company disbanded in 1977, Mr. Prokovsky was ballet director of the Rome Opera House in 1977 and 1978, and then pursued a career as a freelance choreographer. He was especially known for evening-long productions that choreographically retold familiar stories from literature or opera, among them “Anna Karenina’’ (Australian Ballet, 1979), “The Three Musketeers’’ (Australian Ballet, 1980), “Dr. Zhivago’’ (CAPAB Ballet, South Africa, 1983), “Romeo and Juliet’’ (London City Ballet, 1985), and “La Traviata’’ (London City Ballet, 1989).

He also staged his own versions of “Swan Lake,’’ “The Nutcracker,’’ and “Sleeping Beauty,’’ as well as dance sequences in operatic productions by the Paris Opera and the Washington National Opera.

Mr. Prokovsky leaves his wife, Elvire, and a son, Alexandre.