National Geographic : 1966 Mar
Bolshoi Ballet: big and beautiful T RADITIONALLY, the ballet enjoys tremendous esteem in Russia, which has produced some of the world's foremost dancers-Pavlova, Nijinsky, Ulanova, Nureyev. The celebrated Bolshoi com pany features extravagant productions and extraor dinary physical feats. Bolshoi means "grand," and the troupe justifies its name in classics like "Swan Lake," performed here in the Kremlin's Palace of Congresses before a capacity audience of 6,000. The Bolshoi's 250 dancers, supported by their own orchestra and an army of technicians, live in a world apart. Wards of the Ministry of Culture, solo ballerinas like Yekaterina Maximova (below) begin their careers at age 9 or 10. Each year 30 youngsters, chosen from 1,500 applicants, enter the Bolshoi's school for nine years of rigorous training. To make the picture below and others of Russian artists and professional people (pages 320, 336-7, and 339), pho tographer Conger had the assistance of the Institute of Soviet-American Relations, a government agency dealing with American visitors.