Anatole Vilzak (published 1982)


Vilzak talks about learning and dancing the classical ballet repertory in tsarist Russia. The principal works discussed are Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake and Sleeping Beauty.

In the interview clip, Vilzak reminisces about watching dancers perform from the wings as a student and learning through this observation and later discussion with other students. Newman theorizes it was Vilzak's mime training that lent his dancing such authenticity and physicality.

Biographical note:

Born in Vilnius, Lithuania, though some sources say St. Petersberg in 1896, Vilzak graduated from the Imperial Ballet School into the Maryinsky Theatre in 1915. He performed there until he left Russia in 1921. He danced as premier danseur for Sergei Diaghilev's legendary Ballets Russes until 1925 and was a principal dancer with George Balanchine's American Ballet in New York from 1936 to 1937. Vilzak began devoting himself to teaching, when in 1940 he became an instructor at Balanchine's School of American Ballet. Vilznak became one of the most important teachers of the Russian style in America. He passed way in San Francisco on August 15, 1998.




New York, NY




“Anatole Vilzak (published 1982),” Dance Dialogues: Interviews by Barbara Newman, 1979-Present, accessed September 22, 2020,