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Just Plain Folk.


With more than sixty dancers and hundreds of costumes, the great Moiseyev Dance Company was back in town, paying its first visit to New York in three years. The truly legendary 96-year-old Igor Moiseyev is still very much in hands-on control of the company he founded in Moscow in 1937, although, for the first time, ill health has kept him from the 2002 six-week U.S. tour.

The Moiseyev Dance Company is the granddaddy of all the innumerable folklorist dance ensembles that have since flourished all over the world, right up to Ireland's Riverdance and beyond. Yet the Moiseyev Company is still the best, while the sprightly nonagenarian Moiseyev remains by a long chalk the greatest choreographer ever to immerse himself in the dances of the people. His imaginative stylizations of their dances, first Russian, but later taking dances from all over the world--including the American square dance, traditionally the troupe's final encore --as his artistic oyster, are matchless in their style and theatricality.

The company first came to America in 1958, to New York's old Metropolitan Opera House--and there was a twenty-five-minute ovation at its final curtain. It's now on its eleventh tour; though it used to give long seasons at Lincoln Center, it has given only two performances in New York since the 1991 death of its former American impresario, Sol Hurok. This is a small tragedy for New York dance lovers, as there is no ensemble in the world like it. This current troupe, packed with young, fantastically talented dancers and led by Lev Golavanov and Victor Nikitouchkin, is at the top of its game, dancing like a dream. Moiseyev has added a few new dances, at least new to New York, including a hilarious sailor's dance called A Day on Board a Ship, as well as adaptations from Venezuela and Argentina and a sprightly Spanish jota.

But when a thing's not broken you don't mend it, so most of the program effortlessly turned back the clock with beloved favorites. These, of course, included such classic Moiseyeviana, all present in that first 1958 outing, as The Partisans, with its startling images of horsemen and wartime combat, the amusing pomposity of Old City Quadrille, the delightfully surprising Two Boys in a Fight, and finally, the ceaselessly amazing powerhouse virtuosity of the Gopak.

It was great to have the Moiseyev back--but, even though it gave an additional four performances in the area, two at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center in Newark and a couple at the Tilles Center on Long Island, why so briefly?
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Title Annotation:The Partisans; Old City Quadrille; Two Boys in a Fight
Author:Barnes, Clive
Publication:Dance Magazine
Article Type:Dance Review
Date:Jun 1, 2002
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