News / Arts & Entertainment

David Hallberg Joins The Bolshoi Ballet as a Premier Dancer

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Bernard Shusman

An American ballet star has joined the Bolshoi Ballet as what's called a premier dancer. David Hallberg is the first American to achieve such a distinction.

They call him the Prince, that's the Prince of Ballet.   He is 29 year-old David Hallberg of Rapid City, South Dakota.

American ballet dancers David Hallberg, right, and Tiler Peck perform at the 2010 World Science Festival opening night gala performance at Alice Tully Hall on Wednesday, June 2, 2010 in New York.
American ballet dancers David Hallberg, right, and Tiler Peck perform at the 2010 World Science Festival opening night gala performance at Alice Tully Hall on Wednesday, June 2, 2010 in New York.

This young dancer, who hails far from the cultural centers of the U.S.,  is now the first American to enlist permanently with the world-renowned Bolshoi Ballet of Moscow.  It has special meaning for him.  “For me the responsibility is large," he said. "The pressure is, of course, quite large.  So is the responsibility to represent a new generation, a new era in ballet.”  

Hallberg will have a starring role with the Bolshoi.  Over the last 10 years he has made tremendous strides.  In 1999, he trained at the Paris Opera Ballet School and in 2000 he joined American Ballet Theater in New York.  

He's now a principal dancer with ABT and will continue to dance with Ballet Theater from time to time.   

Kevin McKenzie is artistic director of ABT. He says he never doubted Hallberg's potential.  “We knew right away that we had a talented boy on our hands," he said.

“It was just evident when it was time to open the gates and let him go and he took off like a meteor."

The move comes 50 years after Rudolf Nureyev's historic defection from the Soviet Union.  That turned the world of dance upside town.

Then, in 1974, the great Mikhail Baryshnikov defected.   

Now, the journey is in reverse.

Hallberg believes the collaboration will be positive. “I will be like a sponge trying to absorb everything around me and trying to see all the other dancers, the ballets and the repertoire.  And on the other hand, I feel the dancers can be influenced by the way I dance as well," he said.

Kevin McKenzie, of ABT, is proud. “Until this very moment in time it was always American companies or American audiences looking for validation -- to have a guest Russian dancer with them.  And now the shoe is on the other foot," he said.

Hallberg will debut in “Giselle” at the Bolshoi in early November.

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