Nikolay Tsiskaridze PAR (Russian: Николай Максимович Цискаридзе), also spelled Ziskaridze, was a premier dancer of the Bolshoi Ballet for 21 years (1992-2013). His performances have delighted audiences around the globe and made him the most famous and decorated dancer in Russia.
Ethnically Georgian, he was born in Tbilisi on 31 December 1973. He began his studies at the Tbilisi ballet School in 1984 and joined the Moscow Ballet School in 1987. This graceful, refined, diligent and dedicated young student continued to perfect his professional skills throughout his school years. A unique combination of natural abilities such as flexibility, musicality, charisma and superlative lyrical expressiveness distinguished the young dancer as a rare talent, and in 1992 he graduated at the top of his class, having studied under the renowned pedagogue Professor Peter Pestov. In 1992 Tsiskaridze joined the ballet company of the Bolshoi Theater. The then artistic director Yuri Grigorovich saw Nikolai at the graduation exam and as he could not pronounce his surname, he said: “The Georgian gets an A. He’s got the job.” At the theater he had the good fortune to enter the class of prominent ballerina Marina Semyonova, and as Nikolai says, she became his second mother. The legendary Galina Ulanova also assisted him. She taught him to give meaning to every single movement and gesture and to fill the dance with emotion. “Don’t shout with your hands when dancing a prince.”, she used to say. “A noble man only needs to bow his head to make his wish fulfilled immediately.” Young Tsiskaridze soon earned a reputation for his nobility, stage presence and perfect technique.
Over the course of his dance career he performed more than 70 roles in major classical works. One of the best ballet princes, he was equally convincing in modern choreographies. Roland Petit, who staged “La Dame de Pique” in 2001, created the role of Hermann especially for Tsiskaridze.
While dancing, Tsiskaridze continued his education and in 1996, he completed his studies at the Pedagogical faculty of the Institute of Choreography (today College and Institute have been amalgamated into the Moscow Choreographic Academy) and was awarded a diploma with the classification of first-rank soloist, as well as teaching credentials. Since 2003 he was teaching a daily ballet class at the Bolshoi Theatre. Besides, since 2004 he was also teaching at the Moscow Ballet Academy.
In October 2003 Tsiskaridze had to face his first major injury which threatened to end his career - the devastating knee injury sustained during his rehearsal at Opera de Paris. After the very first operation when doctors changed the ligament in his knee he got staphylococci infection into his body and for some period he was in a critical state. With further 9 operations doctors succeded to save not only his life, but his leg as well. Finally, he started learning to walk. He entered the stage after 9-month intermission.
He became the youngest person to be named a People's Artist of Russia (2001). He received the State Prize of the Russian Federation in 2001 and 2003 and the Prix Benois de la Danse in 1999. During his career he received many honours - Silver medal at the Osaka Ballet Competition (1995), Golden medal at the Moscow Ballet Competition (1997), Honoured Artist of Russia (1997), Russian Golden Mask theatrical prize (1998, 2000, 2003),Benois de la Danse (1999), Order of Honour of the Republic of Georgia (2003), Danza&Danza award as best dancer of the year 2003, Triumph prize (2004), Chevalier de l'Ordre des Arts et des Lettres de la République Française (2006), People's Artist of North Osetia —Alania Republic (2013).
As a dancer, Tsiskaridze possessed the purity of Russian dance training and the regality and mystery of royalty. His extremely long legs moved with masculine power, yet also with feminine grace. His arms could at one moment be strong and forceful, and at the next soft and elegant. His feet were well arched for a man and his beats were pristine. As a product of the Russian ballet school, which emphasizes dramatic expression hand in hand with technique from a very early stage in training, Tsiskaridze was an effortless actor with the ability to mesmerize the audience. There were no small parts for Tsiskaridze where his profession was concerned. Preparation for any role was very important for him. The dancer says, “It is desirable to know everything about the ballet, about the character, the composer, the choreographer – everything.” There is a huge collection of videos and books about ballet in his house and some ballet critics envy his knowledge of this art. He doesn't get tired of studying and researching something new in the subjects that have already been well explored by him.
Tsiskaridze is a well-known figure in Russia beyond the world of ballet, having appeared as a judge on Russia's version of Dancing with the Stars and other reality shows.
Following months of legal disputes and scandals, Tsiskaridze left the Bolshoi when his contracts (as a premier dancer and as a ballet teacher) expired on 30 June, 2013 and the theater´s management decided not to prolong any of them. His relationship with the directors of the theater was rocky long time ago - he openly criticized the theater’s management for soiling the Bolshoi’s repertoire of classics with contemporary works from abroad, for shoddy work during a recent renovation, for favoritism and bad taste. As a result of his endless criticism, Tsiskaridze claimed he and his students were denied roles, docked pay and prevented from advancing their careers.
In 2014, Tsiskaridze graduated as a Master of Law at Kutafin Moscow State Law University. On 29 Nov, 2014 Tsiskaridze was elected as Rector of Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in Saint Petersburg, est. in 1738.
- Nutcracker Suite : Prince, Poupée Française
- La Belle au bois dormant : Prince Désiré, l'Oiseau Bleu, Fée Carabosse, Prince Fortune
- Romeo and Juliet : Mercutio, a troubadour
- La Sylphide : James
- Swan Lake : Prince Siegfried, Rothbart, the King
- La Bayadere : Solor, Bronze Idol
- The Legend of Love : Ferkhad
- Giselle : Albrecht
- The Spectre of the Rose : Le Spectre
- Raymonda : Jean de Brienne
- La Fille du pharaon : Taor
- La Dame de pique : Hermann
- Notre-Dame de Paris : Quasimodo
- Le Clair Ruisseau : Danseur classique
- Le Songe d'une nuit d'été : Thésée
- Le Corsaire : Conrad
- "Деятели культуры России — в поддержку позиции Президента по Украине и Крыму". Ministry for Culture of Russian Federation.
- Page on the Bolshoi Theater official website
- Biography of Nikolay Tsiskaridze @ Russiapedia
- Photographs with Ulanova, Grigorovich and Roland Petit
- A propos de... Tsiskaridze
- Informal site
- Photo Tsiskaridze's in "Photo gallery of masters of musical theatre"