Danielian, Leon, 1920-1997

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American ballet dancer and teacher, Leon Danielian (1920-1997) enjoyed an especially varied career as a performer, but is best known for his long association with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo.

Danielian, a native New Yorker of Armenian ancestry, studied ballet as a child with an influential teacher, Madame Seda, who later sent him to Mikhail Mordkin for additional training. He joined the Mordkin Ballet in 1937 and when that troupe was refashioned into Ballet Theatre in late 1939, Danielian became an original member of the company. He performed solo roles in such pieces as the revival of Michel Fokine's Carnaval, in which he appeared as the Harlequin. During this period, Danielian also would dance on Broadway and Colonel Wassily de Basil's Ballet Russe company, before joining Sergei Denham's rival Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Danielian was active with the company from 1943 to 1961, appearing in a wide-ranging repertory, which displayed his versatility in both classical and character parts. Among his most constant and celebrated roles were the Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty and the comedic Peruvian tourist in Leonide Massine's Gaîté Parisienne. Throughout his many years with the company, Danielian partnered all of its leading ballerinas, including Alexandra Danilova, Yvette Chauviré, and Nina Novak. Perhaps his most frequent partner, however, was fellow American, Ruthanna Boris, who also featured Danielian in her own original choreography, including Cirque de Deux (1947) and Quelques Fleurs (1948). He toured extensively with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and also appeared as a guest artist and on tours with the San Francisco Ballet during the late 1950s and early 1960s, until worsening arthritis ended his performing career. Following his retirement from the stage, Danielian taught ballet for nearly thirty years. He became co-director of the School of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in New York City for several years and served as director of the American Ballet Theatre School in that same city from 1967 to 1980. In 1983, Danielian joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught in the Department of Theatre and Dance until his retirement in 1991, later becoming a professor emeritus. In 1993, a dance studio and endowed scholarship at the University of Texas were named in his honor.

From the description of Leon Danielian papers, 1930-1994. (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 99659039

American ballet dancer and teacher, Leon Danielian (1920-1997) enjoyed an especially varied career as a performer, but is best known for his long association with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. Danielian was a native New Yorker of Armenian ancestry, who, with his sister Hercelia, studied ballet as a child with an influential teacher, Madame Seda. She later would send the Danielians to Mikhail Mordkin for additional training and both would join his troupe, the Mordkin Ballet, when it was formed in 1937 (Danielian’s sister appeared under the name, Hercelia Danielova). The Mordkin Ballet, which had been partly sponsored by Lucia Chase, was refashioned into Ballet Theatre in late 1939 and Leon became an original member of the company, performing in such pieces as the revival of Michel Fokine’s Carnaval, in which he appeared as the Harlequin. During this period, Danielian also would dance on Broadway, with Ballet Theatre, and Colonel Wassily de Basil’s Ballet Russe company, before joining Sergei Denham’s rival Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo as a principal dancer.

Danielian was active with the company from 1943 to 1961, appearing in a wide-ranging repertory, which displayed his versatility in both classical and character parts. Among his most constant and celebrated roles were the Bluebird in The Sleeping Beauty (generally performed as part of the excerpt, Aurora’s Wedding ), the comedic Peruvian tourist in Leonide Massine’s Gaîté Parisienne, and El Bonito in Antonia Cobos’ Madroños . Throughout his many years with the company, Danielian partnered all of its leading ballerinas, including Alexandra Danilova, Yvette Chauviré, and Nina Novak. Perhaps his most frequent partner, however, was fellow American, Ruthanna Boris, who also featured Danielian in her own original choreography, including Cirque de Deux (1947) and Quelques Fleurs (1948). Danielian toured extensively with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo and also appeared as a guest artist and on tours with the San Francisco Ballet during the late 1950s and early 1960s, until worsening arthritis ended his performing career.

Following his retirement from the stage, Danielian taught ballet for nearly thirty years. He became co-director of the School of the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo in New York City for several years and served as director of the American Ballet Theatre School in that same city from 1967 to 1980. In 1983, Danielian succeeded Igor Youskevitch and joined the faculty of the University of Texas at Austin, where he taught in the Department of Theatre and Dance until his retirement in 1991, later becoming a professor emeritus. In 1993, a dance studio and endowed scholarship at the University of Texas were named in his honor.

From the guide to the Leon Danielian papers, 1930-1994, (The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Page, Ruth. Scrapbooks: v. 14, New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Danielian, Leon, 1920-1997. Correspondence and contracts, 1942-1963. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Danielian, Leon, 1920-1997,. Interview with Leon Danielian. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Leon Danielian papers, 1930-1994 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
creatorOf Danielian, Leon, 1920-1997. Leon Danielian papers, 1930-1994. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Danielian, Leon, 1920-1997,. Interview with Leon Danielian. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Danielian, Leon, 1920-1997. Correspondence and contracts. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Danielian, Leon, 1920-1997,. [Scrapbooks] New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Danielian, Leon, 1920-1997. Miscellaneous manuscripts. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith American Ballet Theatre. corporateBody
associatedWith American Ballet Theatre. School. corporateBody
associatedWith American Ballet Theatre. School. corporateBody
associatedWith Armstrong, Jocklyn, person
associatedWith Astaire, Fred, 1899-1987. person
associatedWith Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo. corporateBody
associatedWith Ballet Theatre corporateBody
associatedWith Ballet Theatre (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Boris, Ruthanna. person
associatedWith Chase, Lucia, 1897-1986. person
associatedWith Chauviré, Yvette, 1917- person
associatedWith Danilova, Alexandra, 1907- person
associatedWith Denham, Sergei, 1896-1970. person
associatedWith Dolin, Anton, 1904-1983. person
associatedWith Fehl, Fred person
associatedWith Fehl, Fred. person
associatedWith Fokine, Michel, 1880-1942. person
associatedWith Franklin, Frederic, 1914- person
associatedWith Gruen, John, person
associatedWith Loring, Eugene, 1911-1982. person
associatedWith Loring, Eugene, 1914- person
associatedWith Massine, Leonide, 1896- person
associatedWith Mordkin, Mikhail, 1881-1944. person
associatedWith Novak, Nina person
associatedWith Novak, Nina. person
associatedWith Original Ballet Russe. corporateBody
associatedWith Page, Ruth. person
associatedWith Penn, Irving. person
associatedWith San Francisco Ballet. corporateBody
associatedWith Saroyan, William, 1908-1981. person
associatedWith Seawell, Wallace. person
associatedWith Suny, Seda. person
associatedWith Vollmar, Jocelyn person
associatedWith Vollmar, Jocelyn. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Subject
Dancers--United States--20th century
Male dancers--20th century
Dancers--20th century
Ballet--Study and teaching
Ballet dancers--United States--20th century
Male dancers--United States--20th century
Dance teachers--20th century
Ballet--20th century
Dance teachers--United States--20th century
Ballet--United States--20th century
Ballet dancers--20th century
Occupation
Dancers
Compilers
Dance teachers
Ballet dancers
Function

Person

Birth 1920-10-31

Death 1997-03-08

Spanish; Castilian,

English,

Russian

Information

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