Adolph Bolm Adolph Bolm as Pedro the Hunchback in his ballet The Birthday of the Infanta, 1919. Though sometimes overshadowed by his Ballet Russe colleague Vaslav Nijinsky, Bolm was celebrated for the dramatic power of his performances in both character and leading roles. (from Special Collections, Syracuse University Library)


Born in Saint Petersburg, Russia, Adolph Bolm (1884-1951) studied at Saint Petersburg's Imperial Ballet School and danced, first as a member of the corps and then as a soloist, in its affiliated company. Artistically restive, he partnered Anna Pavlova on her first European tours and in 1909 joined Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, where he created a furor as the Chief Warrior in the Polovtsian Dances. He remained with the company until 1917, when he settled in the United States. Here his choreographic career blossomed. He staged the first U.S. production of Le Coq d'Or and in 1922 the jazz pantomime Krazy Kat, based on the popular comic strip. He created numerous ballets for Chicago Allied Arts and in 1928 staged the world premiere of Igor Stravinsky's Apollon Musag├Ęte at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C. In later years he served as ballet master of the San Francisco Opera, mounted works at the Hollywood Bowl, and choreographed for American Ballet Theatre. He died in Hollywood, California.

Learn more in Adolph Bolm, an essay by Judy Estey.


Adolph Bolm, Photo by Maurice Goldberg A circa 1909 photograph of Adolph Bolm. The restless and artistically bold choreographer drew on diverse influences to expand on his classical Russian training, paving the way for modern ballet and dance. (Photograph by Maurice Goldberg; from the Dance Division, New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.)