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Igor Moiseyev, 101; led folk dance to professional stage

Email|Print| Text size + By Maria Danilova
Associated Press / November 4, 2007

MOSCOW - Igor Moiseyev, who transformed folk dance into a legitimate genre of choreographic art that won worldwide acclaim, died Friday in Moscow. He was 101.

Mr. Moiseyev had been unconscious for the past three days and died in a Moscow hospital, said Yelena Shcherbakova, director of the Moiseyev Dance Company, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported.

Mr. Moiseyev, called the king of folk dance, attracted the West to Russian culture at a time of deep political hostility and won standing ovations around the world.

He brought traditional folk dance onto the professional stage by combining ethnic moves with classic ballet. His numbers, from the Russian peasant girl dance to the Greek Sirtaki, were hailed as promoting peace and tolerance by showing that each culture is unique. He amazed Americans with his take on rock 'n' roll and square dance.

Mr. Moiseyev had been in poor health in recent years and was rarely seen in public. Looking very frail, he made an appearance at a Moscow concert to celebrate his 100th birthday last year.

President Vladimir Putin has expressed his condolences, the Kremlin said.

Mr. Moiseyev was born Jan. 21, 1906, in Kiev, Ukraine, and enrolled in a dance school at age 14. He showed outstanding talent and was transferred to the Bolshoi Theater choreography school in Moscow, where he became a Bolshoi dancer in 1924.

In 1937, he founded the Moiseyev Dance Company. Its first performance was an exploration of the music, culture, traditions, and costumes of the numerous ethnic groups of the former Soviet Union.

Moiseyev leaves his wife. A funeral is planned for Wednesday.

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