20 Facts About Todd Bolender


Todd Bolender was a renowned ballet dancer, teacher, choreographer, and director.

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Todd Bolender was an instrumental figure in the creation and dissemination of classical dance and ballet as an American art form.

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In 1931, when he was 17, Todd Bolender went to New York, which he said in an interview in 2002 seemed to him like a “kind of heaven”, to study theatrical dance.

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Under Balanchine's supervision, Todd Bolender studied at the fledgling School of American Ballet with such Russian teachers as Pierre Vladimiroff, Felia Dubrovska, Anatole Oboukhoff and Ludmilla Schollar.

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Todd Bolender trained with Muriel Stuart and, pursuing a strong interest in modern dance, studied with Louis Horst and Harald Kreutzberg.

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Todd Bolender performed with Les Ballets Russe de Monte Carlo for one season and with Ballet Theatre for four months in 1944 before being sidelined with an injury.

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Todd Bolender was a versatile dancer, originating roles in the work of Balanchine — most notably Four Temperaments, Renard, and Agon — and in much of the choreography of Jerome Robbins as well.

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Mother Goose Suite, made in 1943, was the first of some three dozen ballets Todd Bolender made in the course of his long career, eleven of them for New York City Ballet.

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Todd Bolender's choreography is in the repertoires of Kansas City Ballet, New York City Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo, San Francisco Ballet, Pacific Northwest Ballet, The Joffrey Ballet, and the Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater.

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Todd Bolender's best known works, both of which are still in active repertoire, are Souvenirs and The Still Point, both made in 1955.

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In Turkey, where he worked in the seventies, Todd Bolender choreographed My Fair Lady, Fiddler on the Roof, Man of La Mancha, and Showboat.

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Todd Bolender taught throughout his career in New York and as a guest teacher all over the United States as well as in Turkey, Japan, Austria, and Germany.

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Confident that a broader community support for classical ballet might be found, Todd Bolender had a vision to build a company, a repertoire, and a school in the nation's heartland.

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Todd Bolender did all three and at an age when most people have retired.

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Todd Bolender became Artistic Director Emeritus in 1996 when he retired from Kansas City Ballet and William Whitener took over as Artistic Director.

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Todd Bolender who created the role of the Fox in the original 1947 production of Renard, resurrected this piece, which initially vanished for a half century, in 2001 for Kansas City Ballet.

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Todd Bolender has built a foundation of quality and grand proportion, scarcely imaginable in 1981 and now can enjoy the fruits of his own continuing creativity.

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Todd Bolender was active in the preservation of Balanchine's work, coaching dancers in his roles in the repertoire for the Balanchine Foundation's Film Archive and reconstructing Renard for the Kansas City Ballet in 1998 as part of the Stravinsky Festival.

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In 2006, Todd Bolender was awarded the Dance Magazine Award for his lifetime achievement in dance.

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Just weeks before he was to receive the award, Todd Bolender died on October 12,2006 at age 92 from complications related to a stroke.

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