Gorskii, Aleksandr Alekseevich

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Gorskii, Aleksandr Alekseevich


Born Aug. 6 (18), 1871, near St. Petersburg; died Oct. 20, 1924, in Moscow. Soviet ballet dancer, choreographer, and teacher. Honored Artist of the Imperial (later State Academic) Theaters (1915).

Upon graduating from the St. Petersburg Theatrical School, Gorskii joined the Mariinskii Theater, where he danced from 1889 to 1900. In 1900 he became ballet director. From 1902 to 1924 he was ballet master of the Bolshoi Theater. Having become head of the Moscow ballet troupe, Gorskii began a reform in ballet, drawing substantially on the experience of dramatic theaters (the Moscow Art Theater and others). He sought to overcome many conventions of 19th-century academic ballet (the canonical structure, the separation of dance and pantomime). He began with the re-staging of an old production (Minkus’ Don Quixote, 1900) and then went on to rework many classical ballets, revising their dramaturgy and replacing abstract corps de ballet ensembles with dances justified by the action, striving for a historical authenticity of presentation: Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake, Pugni’s The Humpbacked Horse, Adam’s Giselle and Le Corsaire, Minkus’ La Bayadère Gorskii fulfilled his creative goals completely in his own works: Simon’s Gudul’s Daughter (1902), Arends’ Salammbo (1910), Love Is Swift with music by Grieg (1913), Eunice and Petronius with music by Chopin (1915), and Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker (1919). Gorskii marked the first anniversary of the October Revolution by staging the ballet Sten’ka Razin with music by A. K. Glazunov and the fifth anniversary by a ballet for children on a modern theme, Flowers That Live Forever, with music by B. V. Asaf’ev (with additional numbers by other composers). Gorskii taught in St. Petersburg (1896–1900) and Moscow (from 1902). Among his pupils were A. M. Messerer, M. M. Gabovich, A. I. Abramova, and L. M. Bank.


Bakhrushin Iu. Aleksandr Alekseevich Gorskii, 1871–1924. Moscow-Leningrad, 1946.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.