Mansur Kamaletdinov (1926–2012)

June 5, 2012

Courtesy Vaganova Summer School


A dancer and teacher known for bringing out the passion in his students, Mansur Kamaletdinov passed away April 19. He was a character dancer and teacher with the Bolshoi Ballet and taught widely in the United States as well.

At the age of 9, Kamaletdinov was recruited for the Vaganova Ballet Academy (then Leningrad Choreographic Institute) while living in a Russian orphanage in Ufa, southeast of Moscow (the same area where Nureyev was from). While at the Vaganova Academy, he was the student of Aleksandr Shiriaev, who had been Marius Petipa’s assistant. (Learn about the amazing ballet choreographer and animation inventor, Shiriaev, here.) Kamaletdinov first joined the Maryinsky (Kirov) Ballet and later the Tbilisi Ballet and Opera Theater, where he worked with the legendary Vakhtang Chabukiani (who was also Nina Ananiashvili’s teacher). He had a feature role in the film The Ballet Dancer, starring the great Soviet ballerina Galina Ulanova. Reportedly he was good friends with Maya Plisetskaya, and one of his students was Vladimir Vasiliev.

In 1951, he was invited to join the Bolshoi as a principal character dancer, ballet master, and teacher. While at the Bolshoi, he held a host of positions, including chair of the character dance department, choreographer, ballet master, assistant to the artistic director Leonid Lavrovsky, and acting artistic director in Lavrovsky’s absence.

Kamaletdinov emigrated from the Soviet Union in 1976, first living in Rome and then settling in the United States in 1977. He began teaching at the Joffrey Ballet School, but he also taught at the Richmond Ballet School, and finally Point Park College, where he became a professor of dance. The companies where he has been a guest teacher include Ballet Nacional de Cuba. Kamaletdinov became the director of the Vaganova Summer School in Pittsburgh since its founding in 1994. —Rachel Rizzuto