Valery Matveevich Panov (Russian: Валерий Матвеевич Панов; born 12 March 1938) is an Israeli dancer and choreographer. Born and raised in the Soviet Union, he trained in Leningrad and performed with the Kirov from 1964 to 1972. He and his second wife Galina, who was a ballerina at the Kirov, came to international attention in 1972 when they applied for exit visas to emigrate to Israel, which they were given in 1974. Panov worked with the Berlin Opera Ballet, as well as companies in other western European and North American countries, during the late 1970s and 1980s. He formed the Ashdod Art Centre in 1993, and five years later founded the Panov Ballet Theatre, also in Ashdod.
Valery Panov was born in Vitebsk, Byelorussian Soviet Socialist Republic (present-day Vitebsk, Belarus) in 1938. He studied at the Vaganova School in Leningrad, which is the present-day Academy of Russian Ballet, St. Petersburg. Panov attended the Moscow and Leningrad Ballet Schools, graduating from the latter in 1957.
He danced with the Maly Ballet in Leningrad (1957–64), where he created roles in Lopukhov's Ballad of Love (1959), in Davitashvili's Daphnis and Chloe (1960) and Bolero (1960), and in Boyarsky's Petrushka (1961), Orpheus (title role, 1962), and The Lady and the Hooligan (1962). In 1964 he joined the Kirov, where he remained until 1972. There he created roles in Jacobson's Land of Miracles (1967), Vinogradov's Gorianka (1968), Sergeyev's Hamlet (title role, 1970), and Kasatkina's and Vasiliov's Creation of the World (1971).
Panov came to international attention when, in 1972, he and his second wife, Kirov ballerina Galina (née Ragozina), applied for exit visas to Israel. The Panovs were expelled from the Kirov, imprisoned briefly and forbidden from taking class for two years. Artists in the West (including Laurence Olivier) appealed to the authorities on their behalf. Finally, in 1974, the Panovs were allowed to leave Russia. They settled in Israel, making frequent guest appearances abroad as a couple. In Israel, the Panovs danced with the Bathsheva and Bat-Dor dance companies from 1974 to 1977.
Panov was guest choreographer and principal dancer with the Berlin Opera Ballet between 1977 and 1983. There he choreographed several ballets, including Cinderella, Sacre du printemps, The Idiot, and War and Peace. He also staged Heart of the Mountain for the San Francisco Ballet (1976), Scheherazade and Petrushka for Vienna State Opera Ballet (1981), The Three Sisters for the Royal Swedish Ballet (1983), and Hamlet to music by Shostakovich for the Norwegian National Ballet (1984).
- To Dance (New York, 1978) ISBN 9780394498829
A musical theatre production of To Dance is scheduled to have its world premier August 18-30 at The New York International Fringe Festival. Book and lyrics are by Kyra Robinov and music is by Tibor Zonai. The musical has been under development since 2011, and was previewed at the Santa Fe Musical Theatre Festival in August 2014.
- Valery Panov was awarded the Lenin Prize (1969).
- Valery Panov is an honorary citizen of New York City and San Francisco.