Milorad Miskovitch (1928–2013)

Miskovitch and Alicia Markova in the Nutcracker. Photo by Serge Lido, Dance Magazine Archives

 

A star in the firmament of French ballet in the 1940s and ’50s, Milorad Miskovitch died in Nice on June 21. His good looks and charisma earned him the label Prince of Dance, and he was stopped in the streets by fans. He danced all over Europe, directed his own group for 10 years, and choreographed or restaged many full-length ballets for larger companies.


Dance critic and producer Irène Lidova wrote that Miskovitch was noted for both “the subtle romanticism of Giselle and the heroic power of Maurice Béjart's Prométhée.” Serge Lifar said that his dancing was like “lightness of the air.” Alicia Markova called him “the ideal partner” and praised his “grace and nobility.” Maurice Béjart said he had “a brilliant aura.”


Born in Yugoslavia as Milorad Mišković, Michka as he was sometimes called, danced as a soloist with the Belgrade Opera Ballet. At 18 he left for Paris and the famed Studio Wacker, where Olga Preobrajenska and Boris Kniaseff taught. He passed through de Basil’s Ballet Russe, London Festival Ballet (now English National Ballet), and the Grand Ballet du Marquis de Cueva before joining Roland Petit’s Ballets de Paris.

 

With Janine Charrat. Photo by Serge Lido, Dance Magazine Archives


He toured with French choreographe Janine Charrat and with the British group Ballet International, along with Danish ballet classicist Erik Bruhn. He also danced briefly with Paul Szilard, who choreographed a Salomé for him and Colette Marchand. He worked with many other choreographers including Merce Cunningham, William Dollar, John Taras and Ruth Page. One of his most successful roles was the lead in Nijinsky’s Afternoon of a Faun, which he learned from Marie Rambert.


Miskovitch was a favored partner of great ballerinas, including Alicia Markova, Yvette Chauviré, Zizi Jeanmaire, Mia Slavenska, Carla Fracci, Melissa Hayden, and Rosella Hightower.


Lidova, who had produced Roland Petit and Janine Charrat when they were unknowns in the early 1940s, helped Miskovitch form his own troupe, Les Ballets 1956. The group danced works by Béjart and Victor Gsovsky as well as his own.

 

 

With Janine Charrat. Photo by Serge Lido, Dance Magazine Archives


 


Miskovitch also choreographed a new version of Giselle for Carla Fracci and Paolo Bartolucci, and made a new Swan Lake for Ekaterina Maximova and Vladimir Vasiliev.


In the ’60s Miskovitch returned to Yugoslavia often to stage and choreograph ballets. From 1972 to ’74 he made a foray into the ballet scene in the U.S. that included a six-month stint  as "artistic collaborator" of Ballet West under Willam Christensen.


In 1980 he became artistic advisor to UNESCO and served as president of its international dance council from 1988 to 1994. According to Lidova, he was then named “honorary president for life.” —Wendy Perron

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