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Bolshoi Czar in Stormy Seas

Amid glasnost-era turmoil, Grigorovich draws inspiration from young. DANCE INTERVIEW

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IF there is any ``textbook truth'' in classical ballet, says Russian choreographer Yuri Grigorovich, it is that ``ballet is the art of the young.'' That is a theme song for the Bolshoi Ballet this summer as it tours the United States. ``We're bringing a new generation of young dancers that America hasn't seen yet,'' said dance czar and artistic director of the Bolshoi, sitting with an interpreter in a hotel here.

The brightness of youth brings inspiration to a man who has reigned at the Bolshoi for over 25 years, but who now finds that the art of leading this 210-year-old national treasure is not getting any easier. The company's seven-city tour coincides with heightened political infighting at the Bolshoi Ballet and Opera Theater in Moscow, glasnost-related changes, and persistent criticisms of the Bolshoi's artistic and administrative standards.

``There are a lot of people wanting to take the company away from [Grigorovich],'' says Anna-Marie Holmes, ballet mistress and assistant to the director of the Boston Ballet.

Through it all, Grigorovich appears poised and unflappable, a small but sturdy man with a distinguished silvery crew-cut. His optimism lies with the host of newcomers who grace the stage on this tour - youngsters such as Natalia Arkipova, Nina Speranskaya, Yuri Klevtsov, and American Michael Shannon.

Grigorovich spent his own youthful days at the Kirov Ballet in Leningrad where he was principal dancer for 16 years. The Kirov's refined, graceful style served him well when he joined the more heroic and flamboyant Bolshoi in 1964 as chief choreographer and director.

``He wanted to keep the macho attack and athleticism of the Bolshoi, but he has refined it more,'' says Ms. Holmes, who received much of her training in Russia. His use of counterpoint in dance, imitating musical lines, punctuates his works, she says, which include ``Legend of Love'' (1961), ``Spartacus'' (1968), and ``Ivan the Terrible'' (1975).


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