Bolm, Adolf, 1884-1951

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Adolph Bolm (b. Sept. 25, 1884 in St. Petersburg, Russia; d. April 18, 1951 in Hollywood, Calif.) was a ballet dancer, choreographer, ballet master, and dance teacher.

From the description of Adolph Bolm collection, 1895-1982 (bulk 1908-1948). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 671239720

Biographical Note

Adolph Bolm was born in St. Petersburg in 1884, entered the Imperial Ballet School in 1894, and became a dancer with the Maryinsky Theatre in 1903. Bolm spent less than a decade with the company, during which time he led Maryinsky tours to Scandinavia and Europe, and served as partner to ballerina Anna Pavlova. In 1909, he began performing with Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, excelling in character roles such as Pierre in Michel Fokine’s Le Carnaval (1909) and the Moor in Petrouchka (1911). Perhaps his most vivid role was that of the Chief Warrior in Fokine’s “Polovtsian Dances,” from Act 2 of Aleksandr Borodin’s opera Prince Igor, a ballet remembered for its particularly savage and exotic choreography. While dancing with the Ballets Russes, Bolm often partnered with ballerina Tamara Karsavina. He danced the Tsarevitch role to her Firebird in The Firebird (1910). Bolm left the company in 1917 after sustaining an injury and because Diaghilev was unwilling to allow Bolm to create ballets for the company (Diaghilev instead promoted Vaslav Nijinsky as choreographer). Bolm went to America where he established the touring company Ballet Intime. It was known for its Eastern dance styles and featured such dancers as American Ruth Page, Roshanara, and Michio Ito. In the 1930s, Agnes de Mille and Martha Graham performed as guest artists for the company. In 1918, Bolm choreographed and danced in the ballet Falling Leaves for the Broadway revue Miss 1917 . In 1918-1919, he staged and performed in two Ballets Russes de Serge Diaghilev works, Le Coq d’Or and Petrouchka, at the Metropolitan Opera House. He later staged these works, as well as other Ballets Russes ballets, in Buenos Aires and San Francisco.

Bolm spent most of the 1920s in Chicago where he worked as ballet master, premier danseur, and choreographer for the Chicago Civic Opera and the Chicago Allied Artists organization. Two significant ballets that he choreographed during this period were The Birthday of the Infanta from 1919, with music by frequent collaborator John Alden Carpenter, and the 1922 ballet Krazy Kat based on the cartoon by George Herriman. He created several one-act ballets, often using designs by Nicolas Remisoff, both for the Chicago company and for his own Adolph Bolm Ballet company. The Bolm Ballet toured the United States and frequently featured Ruth Page and guest artist Vera Mirova. Louis Horst provided musical direction. In 1928, the Library of Congress, under the patronage of Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, commissioned Igor Stravinsky’s score Apollo Musagète for Bolm. Bolm also premiered the ballets Arlecchinata, Alt-Wien, and Pavane pour une Infante Défuncte at the Library of Congress that year.

During the 1930s Bolm worked in California, acting as ballet master for the San Francisco Opera, and unofficially establishing the San Francisco Ballet, from 1933-1936. He was hired to stage the dance scenes for the film The Mad Genius (1930), directed by John Barrymore. It is for this film that Bolm first created his ballet, Le Ballet Mécanique . In 1922, Bolm had collaborated on an experimental short film, Danse Macabre (to Camille Saint-Saëns’ score of the same name) with dancer Ruth Page and director Dudley Murphy. In 1941 he would work on two more films, The Men in her Life and The Corsican Brothers . Bolm frequently re-mounted and re-choreographed Le Ballet Mécanique, presenting it in 1930 at the Hollywood Bowl as The Spirit of the Factory, and later under its original title with the San Francisco Opera. He continued to choreograph for the San Francisco Opera, creating works such as Danse Noble (1934) and the three-part work, Bach Cycle (1936). In 1940, Bolm joined the newly-established Ballet Theatre where he choreographed Peter and the Wolf to Sergei Prokofiev’s score. He also served as company regisseur from 1942-1943, and staged his version of Firebird in 1945. He choreographed his last ballet, Mephisto, for the San Francisco Civic Ballet in 1947.

Besides choreographing and staging Ballets Russes works throughout the United States, Bolm also taught, opening studios in Chicago and Hollywood and instructing a generation of American dancers such as Cyd Charisse. He died in 1951 in Hollywood, leaving behind a legacy as dancer, choreographer and teacher.

From the guide to the Adolph Bolm Collection, circa 1895-1982, (bulk 1908-1948), (Music Division Library of Congress)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Chicago Allied Arts, Inc. Chicago Allied Arts, Inc. records, 1922-1929. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Bolm, Beatrice. Correspondence to and performance memorobilia of Adolf Bolm, 1915-1928. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Flowers, Verla. Verla Flowers scrapbook, 1921-1942. University of Washington Libraries
creatorOf Bolm, Adolf, 1884-1951. Adolph Bolm collection, 1895-1982 (bulk 1908-1948). Library of Congress
creatorOf Bolm, Adolf, 1884-1951. Correspondence and contracts. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Serge Koussevitzky Archive, 1920-1976, (bulk 1924-1951) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Metropolitan Opera (New York, N.Y.). Ballet. [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Bolm, Adolf, 1884-1951. Correspondence and contracts, 1949. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Bolm, Adolf, 1884-1951. [Clippings] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Barzel, Ann. Ann Barzel papers, 1912-2005. Newberry Library
referencedIn Turbyfill, Mark, 1896-1990. Mark Turbyfill papers, 1911-1985. Newberry Library
referencedIn Saddler, Donald,. Interview with Donald Saddler. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn American Ballet Theatre records, 1936-ca. 1967 The New York Public Library. Jerome Robbins Dance Division.
creatorOf Prokofiev, Sergey, 1891-1953. [Letters, 1919-1922] / S[ergei] Prokofiev. Northwestern University
referencedIn Stella Bloch papers, 1914-1991. Harvard Theatre Collection, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University.
creatorOf Bolm, Adolf, 1884-1951. Letters to Ruth Page, 1929-1972. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Leslie, Caird. Papers, 1915-1965. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Ballet Intime (Adol'f Bolm). [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Lundgren, Harriet, 1907-1996. Harriet Lundgren papers, 1917-1991, bulk 1920-1938. Newberry Library
referencedIn Leslie, Caird. Letter, 1969 Aug. 26, New York, to Marian Horosko, [New York] [7] p. on 6 l. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Bolm, Adolf, 1884-1951. The Adolph Bolm Collection. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Grassi, Amata. Amata B. Grassi papers, 1878-1971. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Toscanini, Walter, 1898-1971,. The Walter Toscanini Collection of research materials in dance: A. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Maloof, Alexander. A trip to Syria / A. Maloof ; orchestrated by Charles T. Griffes. New York Public Library System, NYPL
referencedIn Wentink, Andrew Mark,. Interview with Walter Camryn and Bentley Stone. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Bolm, Adolf, 1884-1951. Miscellaneous manuscripts. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Bolm, Beatrice. Miscellaneous manuscripts. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Welles mss., 1930-1950, (Bulk 1936-1947) Lilly Library (Indiana University, Bloomington)
referencedIn Idzikowski, Stanislas,. Interview with Stanislas Idzikowski. New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
referencedIn Page, Ruth. [Programs] New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
creatorOf Adolph Bolm Collection, circa 1895-1982, (bulk 1908-1948) Library of Congress. Music Division
referencedIn Sproule, Ann. Scrapbooks: Clippings, programs, and photographs, New York Public Libraries for the Performing Arts, Dance Collection
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Adolph Bolm Ballet. corporateBody
associatedWith American Ballet Theatre corporateBody
associatedWith Ballet Intime. corporateBody
associatedWith Ballet Intime (Adol'f Bolm) corporateBody
associatedWith Ballet Intime (Adol'f Bolm) corporateBody
associatedWith Ballets russes. corporateBody
associatedWith Ballet Theatre (New York, N.Y.) corporateBody
associatedWith Barzel, Ann. person
associatedWith Bloch, Stella. person
associatedWith Bolm, Beatrice. person
correspondedWith Carpenter, John Alden, 1876-1951 person
correspondedWith Chicago Allied Arts, Inc. corporateBody
associatedWith Chicago Civic Opera (Chicago, Ill.) corporateBody
associatedWith Dougherty, John. person
associatedWith Flowers, Verla. person
associatedWith Grassi, Amata. person
associatedWith Idzikowski, Stanislas, person
associatedWith Karsavina, Tamara person
associatedWith Karsavina, Tamara person
correspondedWith Koussevitzky, Serge, 1874-1951 person
associatedWith Leslie, Caird. person
associatedWith Lundgren, Harriet, 1907-1996. person
associatedWith Maloof, Alexander. person
associatedWith Metropolitan Opera (New York, N.Y.). Ballet. corporateBody
associatedWith Page, Ruth. person
associatedWith Pavlova, Anna, 1881-1931. person
associatedWith Prokofiev, Sergey, 1891-1953. person
associatedWith Saddler, Donald, person
associatedWith San Francisco Opera. corporateBody
associatedWith Sproule, Ann. person
associatedWith Toscanini, Walter, 1898-1971, person
associatedWith Turbyfill, Mark, 1896-1990. person
associatedWith Welles, Orson, 1915-1985 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Russia
United States
Subject
Choreographers--United States
Ballet dancers--United States
Ballet companies
Ballet
Ballet dancers--Russia
Dance schools--United States
Dance teachers--United States
Ballet companies--Russia
Ballet--Russia
Ballet dancers
Choreographers
Ballet--United States
Dance teachers
Choreographers--Russia
Ballet programs
Ballet companies--United States
Dance schools
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1884-09-25

Death 1951-04-16

Americans

English,

Multiple languages,

Russian

Information

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