Zaglavlje biografije

Irène Lidova

Milorad Miskovitch belongs to that fortunate generation which, although still close to the teachings of the past masters, represents the new dance and faces up to the ballet of the future. Whilst one of the rare danseurs nobles in the classical ballet, he is also an impassioned and sensual interpreter of the modern repertory. His name is thus associated equally with the subtle romanticism of Giselle and the heroic power of Maurice Béjart's Prométhée. A tireless researcher, an artist of integrity and inspiration, Milorad Miskovitch occupies a very special place in the constellation of great dancers of our time. Trained by two Russian ballerinas of the imperial age, Nina Kirsanova and Olga Preobrajenska, as one of their last students, Miskovitch discovered while still quite young, the repertory of Fokine and Massine in the Ballets Russes du Colonel de Basil, worked in London with Nicholas Sergeyev, the undisputed heir of Petipa's grand style and was initiated into the romantic nuances and grace with the prestigious couple Markova-Dolin in the London Festival Ballet. Having accumulated an invaluable artistic baggage during his brilliant career Miskovitch has become a true master of the academic style which he knows how to adjust intelligently to the requirements of modern ballet. When he arrived in France at the age of eighteen, without luggage or money, he already bore the title of a soloist of the Belgrade Opera. His remarkable physique, strong personality and the already acquired qualities of an exceptional dancer opened all the doors for him in no time. After a short time with the Ballets des Champs- Elysées, he was taken on as a soloist by the Ballets Russes du Colonel de Basil in London, following in the steps of Diaghilev's company and then the International Ballet Mona Inglesby, a brilliant British ballerina, to then become the principal dancer, the star of the Ballet de Monte Carlo Marquis de Cuevas where he made brilliant debuts in Giselle with Rosella Hightower and Romeo and Juliet with very young Ethéry Pagava. Roland Petit who had just founded his Ballets de Paris, was looking for a new star dancer. In Miskovitch he found the rare bird which he needed: a very handsome dancer, of pure and harmonious lines, endowed with an amazing stage presence. Without hesitation Roland Petit turned over to him a large portion of his roles, such as the Mariner in Adame Miroir by Jean Genêt, Hussar in Massine's Beau Danube, Young Man in Rendez-Vous by Prevert. Miskovitch conquers "tout-Paris" and is definitively crowned in New York thanks to his memorable creation of Le Combat by Dollar-Banfield, with Colette Marchand. For this ballet he was awarded the title of the best young dancer of the year in the United States. His debuts with Roland Petit, passionate and promising, were, alas! interrupted by a grave illness and he was bed-ridden for many months. This abrupt and enforced rest nevertheless allowed him to reflect on his art and deepen his personality. After he returned to the stage, still fragile but as impassioned and spirited as ever, he was sought by all the great ballerinas and the great ballet companies. He toured France with Lycette Darsonval, danced with Yvette Chauviré in Ballet de Marigny and accompanied her during their concerts in the capital, Portugal and Brazil. During several seasons he danced with the company of Janine Charrat and became her favourite partner. In 1951 Anton Dolin introduced him to London in Giselle during a season of Festival Ballet in the Stoll Theatre with an illustrious partner: his compatriot Mia Slavenska whom he knew only by her reputation. His success in London suddenly changed the course of his career: Impressed by this young dancer of outstanding qualities, Alicia Markova, then at the height of her glory, invited him to be her partner during a recital tour in England, France and the United States. Dancing with Markova was a chance and a great honour. In spite of the difference in age, they were superb and with a repertory including fragments from Giselle, Les Sylphides, The Nutcracker, always accompanied by a symphony orchestra, they conquered the audiences in London's Albert Hall as well as in Palais de Chaillot in Paris and in Hollywood, Owing to the contact with this great romantic artist Miskovitch's interpretations gained in depth. He danced with her also in The Afternoon of a Faun which he learned from Marie Rambert and Lydia Sokolova who had created this ballet with Vaslav Nijinsky in London, and it was to become one of his great successes. The experience gained with Markova enriched the young dancer who felt ready for new challenges because his roles in the classical repertory and the title of prince de la danse no longer satisfied him. It needs to be recognised that his desire for independence and the bubbling inspiration always pushed him towards new horizons and experiences. He decided, therefore, to found his own company and communicate to it his ardour and passion. He always demonstrates extraordinary tenacity when he has a project close to his heart. It was thus that in June 1956 at the Festival de Lyon-Charbonnières he first presented his new company with the efficient help of the set designer Bernard Daydé and in cooperation with me. His first programme brought together names as famous as those of the choreographers Maurice Béjart, Walter Gore and Victor Gsovsky, set designers Lila de Nobili, Bernard Daydé and François Ganeau, avant-garde composers Maurice Ohana and Zdenko Turjak. Miskovitch also gave the first chance to his friend Milko Sparemblek who thus began his career of a choreographer with a very successful ballet L'Echelle, done in cooperation with very young Dick Sanders. Six young soloists, all good-looking and with strong personalities, guaranteed the production: Claire Sombert, Tessa Beaumont, Veronika Mlakar, Milko Sparemblek, Vassili Sulich and, of course, Miskovitch himself who captivated the audiences as Maurice Béjart's Prométhée done by Pierre Rhallys and based on the original score by Ohana. Prométhée was the undisputable highlight of this first programme of Miskovitch's company. He received for it the Noël Boyer Award which the Parisian critics accord to the most interesting work of the year. With Prométhée Miskovitch triumphed on all the continents; he astounded Latin America and moved deeply North Africa and the Middle East. The complex role of this "bearer of sacred fire" suited perfectly his generous and inspired nature and his harmonious plastic for which he was often compared with ancient Greek sculptures.
To maintain for over ten years the quality of his company without any financial aid was indubitably a tour de force which brought Miskovitch major artistic reputation. During the performances at the Monte Carlo Opera and at the Festival in Enghien, he could enrich his repertory with new works: he had three seasons in Paris and was the first to give performances in a Paris suburb with Liane Daydé and Rosella Hightower. His company was particularly successful in London, Germany, Spain, Italy to which he often returned. In 1959 Miskovitch shared in Maurice Béjart's success at La Monnaie in Brussels with his memorable creation of The Rites of Spring by dancing Señor de Mañara, one of his great successes and another ballet which made his name as a great dramatic interpreter and won him the award of the Brussels critics. Absorbed by travels and rehearsals for a number of years, he nevertheless left his company now and then to dance with foreign companies or find again some of his famous partners. With Yvette Chauviré he created memorable Romeo and Juliet at the Festival du Marais, met again with Janine Charrat at the Théâtre des Champs-Elysées in 1965 during the International Dance Festival in Paris; he was one of the princes in Cinderella produced by Raimundo de Lorrain for the Ballet du Marquis de Cuevas. At the Marseille Opera he danced triumphal Giselle with Rosella Hightower, toured the United States with the Chicago Ballet and Sonia Arova and Melissa Hayden as his partners. In Sweden, in response to the invitation by Elsa Marianne von Rosen, he created a piece inspired by the youth of Karl Marx. His presence impressed the Scandinavian press which found that his personality was a combination of those of Erik Bruhn and Nureyev. Always in pursuit of new formulas for his company Miskovitch studied the singing which he introduced in a charming tableau inspired by commedia dell' arte, Lelio, at the Théâtre Montansier in Versailles. In 1962 at the Spoleto Festival he came up with his first important choreography, Le Jugement de Pâris, a refined and subtle reconstitution of the age of Taglioni, danced by Carla Fracci and himself as Pâris to the music by Spontini. This first contact with the great Italian ballerina and her famous husband, director Beppe Menegatti marked the beginning of a long and lasting cooperation which allowed Miskovitch to make his name in Italy. Meanwhile, he renewed the relations with his country of origin and in 1966 he returned as a big star to the Belgrade Opera to dance Giselle and Romeo and Juliet, and in 1968 Dimitrije Parli} especially for him created the ballet Joan de Zarissa. His return was greeted with true enthusiasm and led to numerous television programmes and films. He participated in the Dubrovnik Festival with Le Combat de Tancred by Monteverdi and presented his own one-man show, made of songs and dances, in an ancient palace. With the Yugoslav ballerina Vesna Butorac he was invited to tour the Soviet Union where he danced Giselle and Swan Lake. In 1972, tempted by an American offer, he stayed for two years in the United States as the art director, first in Dallas at the invitation of George Skibine, and then in Alabama where he inaugurated the Choreography Department at the High School of Performing Arts. The next year he became the artistic co-director of the Ballet West USA in Salt Lake City (Utah). His lively temperament and his sensible nature, however, did not agree with the conventions of the American life. In 1974 Miskovitch returned to Europe, relieved and happy.
He created another legendary hero, Orestes by Aeschylus, for the Athens Festival, with the Greek national drama theatre and the choreographic group of Ralou Manou. It was a total spectacle of poignant force in which Miskovitch once again found a hero to his measure.
Maurice Béjart who appreciated particularly his gifts as an educator and presenter, entrusted to him his company on several occasions, including a tour in the United States and his Brussels seasons. Béjart's dancers were amazed by the perspicacity of their new teacher whose vigilant eye did not miss a single, be it the slightest, mistake in style or error in execution.
Miskovitch increasingly turns to choreography. His new version of Giselle in the Arena di Verona with Carla Fracci and Paolo Bortoluzzi is hugely successful and he returns to the Arena with The Nutcracker and with the same protagonists. He creates other full-length ballets for Carla Fracci, Le Creature di Prometeo, La Figlia di Jorio, Hommage romantique (which after Italy was staged in Paris, at the Espace Cardin where Miskovitch also created ballets Schéhérazade and Diable boiteux).
In Florence he choreographed Swan Lake with Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vassiliev and shortly after that in Zagreb choreographed the big choreographic symphony De veritatae by the famous Croatian composer Stjepan [ulek. It was a major cultural event in Yugoslavia.
The next year he was invited by Robert Hossein to Reims to manage a new ballet company of the Théâtre Populaire. There he staged Mosaïque, an evocation of Persian miniatures.
As of 1978 he worked in Naples, Milan, Genoa and created a romantic ballet based on Chopin's ballads and yet another, Werther, a work considered the best work of the year, for Teatro Nuovo in Turin. After that he created for the same company the full-length ballet Cléopatre which was awarded as the best dance-dramatic work during a tour in Moscow. He also prepared two big productions in Italy, the choreography of Mephistopheles by Boito, turned into an opera-ballet and the revival of his triumphal Nutcracker in the Arena in Verona.
Towards the end of 1979 Mr M'Bow Amadou Mahtar, UNESCO Director General offered Miskovitch the place of the art director in that world organisation. His job was to organise events and anniversaries of notable personalities the world over, concerts, exhibitions, operatic, ballet and drama events, symposiums and seminars addressing ballet and dance, days of culture of all nations-members of this world organisation. At the time UNESCO was like an international theatre. Of the major gala performances, let us mention only Dance Gala dedicated to the legendary Cuban ballerina Alicia Alonso in the UNESCO Palace, the choreographic oratorio Korak (The Step)in honour of the 21st UNESCO General Conference in Belgrade at the Centre Sava, the big Hommage to Galina Oulanova, another legendary ballerina, in the Salle Pleyel in Paris and the Gala in Moscow at the Bolshoi Theatre on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of UNESCO. Ballet stars from all five continents participated in all these major festivities. The events were transmitted by Eurovision and Mondovision. After ten years on the job he retired as a senior UNESCO official and at the request of Bengt Hager, the then president of CID and the colleagues on the UNESCO International Dance Council agreed to take over the chair and continue with the on-going and new projects for the seasons to come. He organised many seminars and symposiums addressing dance, dancers and ballet. CID UNESCO was in a way a catalyst and also a bridge between nations. Thanks to this organisation the artists and authors of different nations could cooperate, exchange and jointly participate in major national and international projects.
At this new job, in his new role, he won brilliantly yet another battle and here he is now as the honorary president for life of the International Dance Council, a prestigious international figure continuing to be present and ready to help all that is art, the development of young artists and their future.
And he has forever preserved his forceful personality and his charm of a danseur noble.