Described as "a Pre-Raphaelite angel posing as a punk-rock idol", this tall (6'3"), blond star of the Bolshoi Ballet staged a dramatic, front-page defection from the Soviet Union in 1979. A Russian da...
The revered director, who founded Moscow's Pyotr Fomenko Workshop Theatre in the 1990s, staged more than 60 plays in Russian and foreign theatres during a career which spanned half a century.
Paying tribute to the late svengali, Russian leader Vladimir Putin has called Fomenko's death "a huge, irreplaceable loss for Russian culture and for the theatre that he created and devoted his life to serving".
He was working on a new production of poet Alexander Pushkin's play Boris Godunov when he passed away.
The cause of death is unknown.
Attended and taught at Lichine Ballet Academy in Beverly Hills
Made film debut, played Vronski in the ballet version of "Anna Karenina"
Became a US citizen
Defected while the Bolshoi was on tour in New York
Raised in Latvia
Made debut at Bolshoi Ballet, Moscow, in "Swan Lake"
Mother took him to Bolshoi School at age nine; was selected with 12 others out of 250 applicants
Joined the American Ballet Theatre, New York; three year contract was not renewed by ABT artistic director Mikhail Baryshnikov (official company statement said his repertory was too limited and the company could not afford his $5,500 per week salary)
Moved to Moscow and became principal dancer with the Bolshoi Dance Company
Final feature, cast as an Amish dad in Rob Reiner's "North"
US feature debut, played an Amish farmer in "Witness"
Danced with the Moiseyev Ballet Company
Performed as guest artist with several dance companies; formed his own temporary dance troupes for tours including "Godunov and Stars"
US TV debut on PBS special, "Godunov: The World to Dance In"
Described as "a Pre-Raphaelite angel posing as a punk-rock idol", this tall (6'3"), blond star of the Bolshoi Ballet staged a dramatic, front-page defection from the Soviet Union in 1979. A Russian dance star since 1971, Godunov, a colleague of Mikhail Baryshnikov, became a principal with the American Ballet Theatre and in 1982, after he left under a cloud of bad feelings, danced as guest artist with various troupes. Spotted by director Peter Weir on a 1983 PBS special, "Godunov: The World to Dance In", he made his US acting debut as a somber Amish farmer in the thriller, "Witness" (1985).
Unlike Baryshnikov, Godunov chose not to appear in dance films. Perhaps due to this--or to the alcoholism which eventually killed him--Godunov's film career fizzled. His lion's mane of long blond hair and his intimidating presence did help him get roles as an arrogant symphony conductor in "The Money Pit" (1986), a villain in "Die Hard" (1988) and an incestous madman in "Waxwork II" (1991). Godunov's final role was in the comedy "North" (1994). As an in-joke, he portrayed an Amish father, married to "Witness" co-star Kelly McGillis.
Bolshoi ballet dancer who returned to Russia without Godunov when he defected in 1979; divorced in 1982
Riga Music School
Riga Choreography School
Stella Adler Conservatory
"I had offers to play dancers, defectors, whatever -- my own story. It was actually before 'Witness'. But ...I didn't want to do it. I'm not saying the ballet movies are bad and shouldn't be done. But my personal feeling about me is that I don't want to mix this up. And I thought I would probably dominate stories about ballet with my ability in ballet. So I stayed away. And now, it's too late for me! But I wouldn't do it anyway." --Alexander Godunov discussing his decision not to appear in dance films as Baryshnikov did at the beginning of his film career from LOS ANGELES TIMES CALENDAR, September 8, 1991
"It's a stange thing to say about dancers who come from a country that is completely consumed by communism, but they have a very imperial air. I think they've dance one too many princes." --Evelyn Shriver, Godunov's publicist since 1981 to LOS ANGELES TIMES CALENDAR, September 8, 1991