Donald McKayle, Photo courtesy of New York Public Library A candid photo of Sol Hurok doing the twist with Nina Danilova of the Leningrad-Kirov Ballet, ca. 1960s. The Russian-born Hurok was able to achieve his life-long dream of bringing major Soviet dance companies to the United States with the liberalizing of Soviet cultural policies following Stalin's death in 1953. The artistic exchange he furthered had a major impact on ballet in America. (Photograph by Lillian Libman. Ann Barzel Dance Research Collection, The Newberry Library, Chicago.)



Flamboyant, self-made, and with an infallible nose for dance fare the American public would buy, impresario Sol Hurok (1888-1974) was born in Ukraine. In 1906 he immigrated to the United States, eventually settling in Brooklyn where he began his managerial career by arranging concerts for labor organizations. In 1916 he was introduced to Anna Pavlova, who became the first of the many dance artists he would manage, and who inspired his love of ballet. The attractions that appeared under the banner "S. Hurok Presents" were legion as well as diverse, including Uday Shankar, Katherine Dunham, Mary Wigman, Vicente Escudero, and Martha Graham. He is best remembered for his promotion of the Ballet Russe companies during the 1930s and 1940s and for presenting Soviet attractions, such as the Bolshoi, Kirov, and Moiseyev companies, at the height of the Cold War. Hurok loved stars and first-night glamour, and he promoted his attractions to the hilt. In so doing, he helped create the large, enthusiastic audiences of the dance boom.


Learn more in Sol Hurok, an essay by Harlow Robinson.