Aleksey Nikolayevich Yermolayev (23 February [O.S. 10 February] 1910 – 12 December 1975) was a Soviet ballet dancer, choreographer, and teacher. He played an important role in the development of Russian ballet between 1920 and 1950, and he was considered an outstanding actor.
Aleksey Yermolayev was born in Saint Petersburg in 1910 (the name of the city was changed to Petrograd in 1914 and to Leningrad in 1924). At the Leningrad Choreographic School he completed the required eight years of training in only five years, graduating in 1926, aged only 16; his teacher there was Vladimir Ponomaryov. He sent four years with the Gosudarstvenniy Akademicheskiy Teatr Opery i Baleta (GATOB) at the Mariinsky Theatre in Leningrad, and made his name in modern roles. He spent the years 1930-1938 as Principal Dancer at the Bolshoi Ballet in Moscow.
Yermolayev demonstrated impressive athletic strength, and a vivid personality in his acting. His roles included the God of the Wind (Le Talisman), Basilio (Don Quichotte), Albert (Giselle), Siegfried (Swan Lake), Abderakhman (Raymonda), Ripafratta (Mirandolina), and Gireï (La Fontaine de Bakhchissaraï).
He created roles in:
- Lopukhov's The Ice Maiden (1927)
- Lopukhov, Ponomaryov, and Leontiev's The Red Poppy (1929)
- Jerome in Vainonen's Moscow version of The Flames of Paris (1933)
- Ripafrata in Vainonen's Mirandolina (1949)
- Tybalt in Lavrovsky's Moscow version of Romeo and Juliet (1946)
- Yevgeny in Zakharov's The Bronze Horseman (1949)
- Severyan in Leonid Lavrovsky's The Tale of the Stone Flower (1954).
In 1951 he created Piece Will Win War at the Belorussian National Bolshoi Opera and Ballet Theatre. He arranged the music and performed all the roles.
In the 1955 Soviet film of the Romeo and Juliet ballet, Yermolayev danced Tybalt, the role he created in 1946.
Among his choreographies were:
- Nightingale (the first Belarussian ballet; 1939, with Lopukhov; mus. M. Kroshner; for the Byelorussian Theatre of Opera and Ballet in Minsk), and
- Burning Hearts (or Fiery Hearts) (1955; mus. V. Zolotarev).
He became a teacher and coach at the Bolshoi Ballet in 1960, remaining there until his death in 1975. From 1968 to 1972 he was also artistic director of the Moscow Choreographic School. Among his pupils were Alexander Godunov, Vladimir Vasiliev, Māris Liepa, U. Vladimirov and M. Lavrovsky.
He was a National Artist of the USSR and Belarus, and a laureate of State Prizes of the USSR. These included Stalin Prizes in 1946, 1947 and 1950, and the Order of the Red Banner of Labour and the Badge of Honour.
Aleksey Yermolayev died in Moscow in 1975, aged 65.