Asaf Messerer

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Messerer, Asaf Mikhailovich


Born Nov. 6 (19), 1903, in Vilnius. Soviet ballet dancer, choreographer, and teacher. People’s Artist of the USSR (1976) and Honored Art Worker of the Lithuanian SSR (1953). Member of the CPSU since 1944.

Upon graduating from the Moscow Choreographic School in 1921, Messerer was accepted into the ballet company of the Bolshoi Theater where he was a student of A. A. Gorskii and V. D. Tikhomirov. He has contributed much to expanding the technique of male dancing, thus enriching and making more complex the “vocabulary” of ballet dancing. His best roles included Colin in Hertel’s La Fille mal gardee, Basil in Minkus’ Don Quixote, Philippe in Asaf ev’s The Flames of Paris, the Acrobat in Gliere’s The Red Poppy, and the title role in Stravinsky’s Petrouchka. His concert divertissement The Soccer Player (or The Football Player), to the music of A. N. Tsfasman, was particularly popular.

Messerer choreographed his first work in 1926. He began teaching in 1921 and from 1923 to 1960 taught at the Moscow Choreographic School. Since 1946 he has been conducting a classe de perfectionnement for ballet dancers of the Bolshoi Theater. A recipient of the State Prize of the USSR (1941, 1947), Messerer has been awarded three orders and various medals.


Uroki klassicheskogo tantsa. [Moscow] 1967.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
In 1930 she joined the Bolshoi Ballet where, according to Asaf Messerer, "Semyonova sparkled and dazzled, asserting the value of classical dance."
Asaf Messerer helped found the Bolshoi school of Ballet.
In Budapest she worked with Soviet ballet masters Asaf Messerer, Rostislav Zakharov, and Vasily Vainonen.
His teachers, Nikolai Tarassov and Alexei Varlamov, were direct links to the traditions of Russia's Imperial Ballet School, and Plissetski's uncle, Asaf Messerer (also one of Plissetski's teachers), wrote Classes in Classical Ballet, a comprehensive study of ballet technique that is still in use today.
In the Russian program I did Spring Waters (pictured, with Yury Yanowsky) by Asaf Messerer, a pas de deux with scary lifts and running around the stage with exuberant passion.
When I got stuck, I looked for ideas in books like Classical Ballet Technique by Gretchen Ward Warren and Classes in Classical Ballet by Asaf Messerer. I thought about my teachers at San Francisco Ballet School and American Ballet Theatre's School of Classical Ballet (open during Mikhail Baryshnikov's tenure as artistic director.) I recalled the combinations that I appreciated most, those that transferred weight and forced me to get up on my legs and center.
Every year the Paris Opera holds promotion examinations for its dancers--apart from the etoiles and the senior soloists--with a jury consisting of the Paris Opera administration, a delegation of dancers, and a few foreign outsiders, who in 1977 consisted of Kenneth MacMillan, Asaf Messerer, and myself.
Her mother was Rakhil Messerer, the film actress; her uncle was Asaf Messerer, one of the Bolshoi's leading teachers.
Rowan credits the high Russian attitude she developed under Pereyaslavec's tutelage as one of the reasons she was invited in 1975 to study with Asaf Messerer at the Bolshoi as an exchange ballerina to Russia.
Starting with barre work, demonstrating the students' perfect placement and grave concentration, the classic exhibition moved, in the manner of Harald Lander's Etudes or Asaf Messerer's Bolshoi imitation, into the cool bravura of center work.
My fellow foreign judges on this occasion were Asaf Messerer from the Bolshoi Ballet and Kenneth MacMillan from the Royal Ballet.