Bolshoi Ballet
The Bolshoi Ballet is an internationally renowned classical ballet
Classical ballet
Classical Ballet is the most formal of the ballet styles, it adheres to traditional ballet technique. There are variations relating to area of origin, such as Russian ballet, French ballet, British ballet and Italian ballet...

 company, based at the Bolshoi Theatre
Bolshoi Theatre
The Bolshoi Theatre is a historic theatre in Moscow, Russia, designed by architect Joseph Bové, which holds performances of ballet and opera. The Bolshoi Ballet and Bolshoi Opera are amongst the oldest and most renowned ballet and opera companies in the world...

 in Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. Founded in 1776, the Bolshoi is among the world's oldest ballet companies, however it only achieved worldwide acclaim by the early 20th century, when Moscow became the capital of Soviet Russia. Along with the Mariinsky Ballet
Mariinsky Ballet
The Mariinsky Ballet is a classical ballet company based at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Founded in the 18th century and originally known as the Imperial Russian Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet is one of the world's leading ballet companies...

 in St. Petersburg, the Bolshoi is recognised as one of the foremost ballet companies in Russia.


The earliest origins of the Bolshoi Ballet, can be found in the creation of a dance school for a Moscow orphanage in 1773. In 1776, dancers from the school were employed by Prince Pyotr Urusov and the English theatrical entrepreneur Michael Maddox
Michael Maddox
Michael Maddox was an English entrepreneur and theatre manager active in Imperial Russia...

, to form part of their new theatre company. Originally performing in privately owned venues, they later acquired the Petrovsky Theatre, which, as a result of fires and erratic redevelopment, would later be rebuilt as today's Bolshoi Theatre.

The early history of the Bolshoi Ballet is very sketchy and, despite staging many famous ballets, it struggled to compete with the reputation of the Imperial Russian Ballet, today's Mariinsky Ballet
Mariinsky Ballet
The Mariinsky Ballet is a classical ballet company based at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Founded in the 18th century and originally known as the Imperial Russian Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet is one of the world's leading ballet companies...

 of St. Petersburg. It was not until the appointment of Alexander Gorsky as Ballet Master in 1900 that the company began to develop its own unique identity, with acclaimed productions of new or restaged ballets including, Don Quixote
Don Quixote (ballet)
Don Quixote is a ballet originally staged in four acts and eight scenes, based on an episode taken from the famous novel Don Quixote de la Mancha by Miguel de Cervantes. It was originally choreographed by Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus and was first presented by the Ballet of the...

(1900), Coppélia
Coppélia is a sentimental comic ballet with original choreography by Arthur Saint-Léon to a ballet libretto by Saint-Léon and Charles Nuitter and music by Léo Delibes. It was based upon two macabre stories by E. T. A. Hoffmann, Der Sandmann , and Die Puppe...

(1901), Swan Lake
Swan Lake
Swan Lake ballet, op. 20, by Pyotr Tchaikovsky, composed 1875–1876. The scenario, initially in four acts, was fashioned from Russian folk tales and tells the story of Odette, a princess turned into a swan by an evil sorcerer's curse. The choreographer of the original production was Julius Reisinger...

(1901), La fille mal gardée
La Fille Mal Gardée
La Fille mal gardée is a comic ballet presented in two acts, inspired by Pierre-Antoine Baudouin's 1789 painting, La réprimande/Une jeune fille querellée par sa mère...

(1903), Giselle
Giselle is a ballet in two acts with a libretto by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges and Théophile Gautier, music by Adolphe Adam, and choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot. The librettist took his inspiration from a poem by Heinrich Heine...

(1911), Le Corsaire
Le Corsaire
Le Corsaire is a ballet typically presented in three acts, with a libretto originally created by Jules-Henri Vernoy de Saint-Georges loosely based on the poem The Corsair by Lord Byron. Originally choreographed by Joseph Mazilier to the music of Adolphe Adam, it was first presented by the ballet of...

(1912) and La Bayadère
La Bayadère
La Bayadère is a ballet, originally staged in four acts and seven tableaux by French choreographer Marius Petipa to the music of Ludwig Minkus. La Bayadère was first performed by the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on...


Former Dancers

  • Natalia Bessmertnova
    Natalia Bessmertnova
    Natalia Igorevna Bessmertnova was a Soviet prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet and a People's Artist of the USSR .-Life:...

  • Yekaterina Geltzer
    Yekaterina Geltzer
    Yekaterina Vasilyevna Geltzer was a prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Ballet who danced in the theatre from 1898 to 1935. She worked with Marius Petipa, Sergei Diaghilev, and Reinhold Glière. After the Russian Revolution of 1917, she helped to preserve the art of ballet in Russia...

  • Alexander Godunov
    Alexander Godunov
    Alexander Borisovich Godunov was a Russian-American ballet danseur and film actor, whose defection caused a diplomatic incident between the USA and the USSR.-Biography:...

  • Olga Lepeshinskaya
  • Maris Liepa
    Maris Liepa
    Māris Rūdolfs Liepa was a Soviet Latvian ballet dancer. He graduated from Riga Choreography School where he was taught by Valentīns Bļinovs. He performed in Moscow for the first time in 1950...

  • Ekaterina Maximova
    Ekaterina Maximova
    Ekaterina Sergeevna Maximova was a Soviet and Russian ballerina of international renown.-Career:Maximova was born in Moscow, Soviet Union. An artist who combined great technical prowess with piquant prettiness, Maximova enjoyed her greatest successes in Giselle, Don Quixote, Cinderella and The...

  • Irek Mukhamedov
    Irek Mukhamedov
    Irek Mukhamedov OBE is a Soviet-born ballet dancer of Tatar origin who has danced with the Bolshoi Ballet & the Royal Ballet He trained at the Moscow Choreographic Institute under the guidance of Alexander Prokofiev between 1970 and 1978. Upon graduation he joined the Classical Ballet Company, ...

  • Maya Plisetskaya
    Maya Plisetskaya
    Maya Mikhailovna Plisetskaya , born is a Russian ballet dancer, frequently cited as one of the greatest ballerinas of the 20th century. Maya danced during the Soviet era at the same time as the great Galina Ulanova, and took over from her as prima ballerina assoluta of the Bolshoi in 1960...

  • Ludmila Semenyaka
    Ludmila Semenyaka
    Ludmila Semenyaka is a Soviet ballerina, born in Leningrad. She studied at the Vaganova School as a pupil of Nina Belikova. She joined the Kirov Ballet in 1970 and later the Bolshoi Ballet in 1972, where she was a prima ballerina. She was named People's Artist of the USSR in 1986 and received the...

  • Marina Semyonova
  • Vasily Tikhomirov
    Vasily Tikhomirov
    Vasiliy Dmitriyevich Tikhomirov was a dancer and a choreographer with the Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow, Russia. His most distinguished production was The Red Poppy , with his wife Yekaterina Geltzer in the main role. He and Geltzer were buried in the Novodevichy Cemetery....

  • Galina Ulanova
    Galina Ulanova
    Galina Sergeyevna Ulánova is frequently cited as being one of the greatest 20th Century ballerinas. Her flat in Moscow is designated a national museum, and there are monuments to her in Saint Petersburg and Stockholm....

  • Vladimir Vasiliev
    Vladimir Vasiliev (ballet dancer)
    Vladimir Viktorovich Vasiliev , a Russian ballet dancer, was principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, and was best known for his role of Spartacus and his powerful leaps and turns.-Biography:Born in Moscow in 1940, the son of a truck driver, Vasiliev graduated from the Moscow Ballet School in 1958...


  • Rostislav Zakharov
    Rostislav Zakharov
    Rostislav Vladimirovich Zakharov was a Russian choreographer, dancer, ballet and opera director. He was a professor of Russian Academy of the Arts in Moscow...

  • Leonid Lavrovsky
  • Fyodor Lopukhov


Today the Bolshoi Ballet remains one of the worlds foremost ballet companies, as well as being the largest, with approximately 220 dancers. The company operates a hierarchical system, similar to those used by other leading European ballet companies, with senior dancers ranked as Principals, and descending in order of importance through Lead Soloist, First Soloist, Soloist and finally Corps de Ballet. Due to its size, the company operates two troupes of corps de ballet.


The performance style of the Bolshoi Ballet, is typically identified as being colourful and bold, combining technique and athleticism with expressiveness and dramatic intensity. This style is commonly attributed to Gorsky
The Bolshoi has an historical rivalry with St. Petersburg heritage ballet company, the Mariinsky. Both have developed very different performing styles: the Bolshoi has a more colourful and bold approasitych, whereas the Mariinsky is associated with pure and refined classicism.

Principal dancers

  • Maria Alexandrova
  • Maria Allash
  • Anna Antonicheva
  • Dmitry Belogolovtsev
  • Semen Chudin

  • Dmitry Gudanov
  • David Hallberg
  • Mikhail Lobukhin
  • Svetlana Lunkina
  • Vladimir Neporozhny

  • Natalia Osipova
  • Marianna Ryzhkina
  • Ruslan Skvortsov
  • Galina Stepanenko
  • Nikolai Tsiskaridze

  • Andrei Uvarov
  • Ivan Vasiliev
    Ivan Vasiliev
    Ivan Vasiliev is a principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet. Born in Vladivostok, he graduated from the Belorussian Ballet School and won first prize at the Moscow International Ballet Competition in 2005...

  • Alexander Volchkov
  • Svetlana Zakharova
    Svetlana Zakharova
    Svetlana Zakharova is the principal dancer with the both the Bolshoi Ballet and the Teatro alla Scala.Zakharova was born in Lutsk, Ukraine, on 10 June 1979. At age six, her mother took Svetlana to learn folk dancing at a local studio. At age 10, Svetlana auditioned for and was accepted into the...

Lead Soloists

  • Yelena Andrienko
  • Yan Godovsky
  • Yekaterina Shipulina

  • Nina Kaptsova
  • Yekaterina Krysanova
  • Anastasia Yatsenko

  • Vyacheslav Lopatin
  • Andrei Merkuriev

  • Anastasia Goryacheva
  • Melissa-Ann Delph

First Soloists

  • Anna Antropova
  • Andrei Bolotin
  • Morikhiro Ivata
  • Kristina Kretova

  • Vladislav Lantratov
  • Anna Leonova
  • Ilze Liepa
  • Yuliana Malkhasyants

  • Denis Medvedev
  • Anna Nikulina
  • Artem Ovcharenko
  • Alexander Petukhov

  • Ruslan Pronin
  • Anastasia Stashkevich
  • Gennadi Yanin
  • Irina Zibrova


  • Chinara Alizade
  • Vitaly Biktimirov
  • Pavel Dmitrichenko
  • Georgy Geraskin
  • Yulia Grebenshchikova
  • Maria Isplatovskaya

  • Yegor Khromushin
  • Olga Kishnyova
  • Nelli Kobakhidze
  • Alexei Loparevich
  • Andrei Melanyin

  • Anastasia Meskova
  • Anna Rebetskaya
  • Denis Savin
  • Irina Semirechenskaya
  • Andrei Sitnikov
  • Olga Smirnova

  • Olga Suvorova
  • Anna Tikhomirova
  • Alexander Vorobiyov
  • Alexander Voytyuk
  • Victoria Yakusheva (Osipova)
  • Andrei Yevdokimov

Corps de Ballet

The Bolshoi Ballet operates two troupes of corps de ballet, with approximately 120 dancers in total.
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