The Widow of Igor Moiseyev: “My Husband Played Chess Brilliantly”

On January 21st, the legendary choreographer, founder and artistic director of famous ensemble, that bears his name now, would have turned 110 years old.

Igor Moiseyev has created the world's first professional folk dance ensemble. In 1966, the Moiseyev troupe performed at the stage of the French Grand Opera and Milan's La Scala. In 1961 and 1974 Igor was awarded the American Dance Oscars. In Soviet times he was awarded the USSR State Prizes three times and in 1994 awarded State Prize of Russia. Igor died two months prior to his 102 anniversary. His widow - the teacher-tutor of the State Academic Folk Dance Ensemble named after Igor Moiseyev, Honoured Artist of the RSFSR - Irina Moiseyeva told us about what a man he was.

- Irina Alekseevna, please tell us what is the reminiscent of the famous husband in your home today?

- Everything. All remains the same as it was with him. Everything is still at all the same places in his study. I did not change anything.

- Igor has lived up to 101 years. How did he usually celebrate his birthdays?

- Of course, his centennial celebration was the most memorable one. It was very solemn and spread over the whole year. Usually Igor celebrated his birthdays with relatives. Guests could enjoy the food and drinks. The housework assistant always baked delicious pies.
- Do people who devoted their life to dance let themselves to eat bakery?
- Of course. The trick is not to eat much, then it would cause one no harm.
- What is the secret of longevity of your spouse?
- It was in his way of life. He got up early - at eight o'clock in the morning. Unless, of course, it was the night before the concert.   If we went out for some evening events, then, surely, he would wake up later. He did his special gymnastics that he had developed for himself. After that he drank tea or coffee with milk or cream. I served Igor what he asked for breakfast: porridge, pancakes, eggs ... Also, my husband loved yogurt.
In general, he always ate with pleasure. After breakfast we went to work. After the rehearsal we had lunch at three o'clock. The schedule was broken only in exceptional cases. For example, if visitors came from abroad, we could sit at the table earlier or later. Igor loved borscht, broth with noodles and cabbage soup ... Sometimes he liked the pies with cabbage. He loved the simple homemade food.
As for dinner, my husband tried not to eat late. Usually in the evening, if there were no rehearsals or concerts, we went out to the theatre, cinema or visited friends. We used to walk in the park or go out to the summer cottage.
- Did Igor drink alcohol?
- He could drink a glass of good dry wine on very rare occasions. He always knew when to stop.
- It is known that he worked almost until his last days. Perhaps one of the secrets of his longevity was his love for work?
- He really adored it.
- Additionally, he was a man of wide interests. For example, he brilliantly played chess ...
- It's true. He could spend hours playing chess on tours. His opponents changed but Igor never got tired. Following his example, many of his ensemble had learned to play chess. My husband also collected stamps. He had unique albums that he collected himself. He read a lot. He always brought books from every country we visited. It was very interesting to be with him at all times.
- Did Igor Aleksandrovich tell you about his outstanding childhood? It is known that he was born in Kiev in the family of gentry- a lawyer and a milliner of French-Romanian descent. He lived in Paris for a few years and on his return to Russia he lived in Poltava with his aunts who were teachers. Sorochintsy and Dykanka made ​​indelible impression on him that he carried through his whole life ...
- Yes, he was fond of it. I knew his mother. It was an interesting family. Igor Aleksandrovich was a unique person. He spoke and read perfect French. He did not need an interpreter when we were on tour in Paris. He spoked freely. He was talented in everything. He did even write poems. They were very good and mostly dedicated to me!
- Igor Aleksandrovich often visited Kiev on tours. Have you been to the Ukrainian capital as well?
- Well, of course. I always accompanied him. My husband loved Kiev, where the audience greatly welcomed the ensemble. We always visited some interesting places on tour that we had read about before the trip. We went to museums, theatres, concerts. Living with Igor was a joy for me.  I was really happy with him.
- How did you meet?
- After the ballet school, I joined the ensemble. That’s how we met. We have lived for more than forty years together. Igor Aleksandrovich was married before. He had a daughter, Olga from his previous marriage. She used to dance and now works as a teacher in the ensemble.
- The career of your husband is astonishing. At the age of 24 he became the soloist and choreographer of the Bolshoi Theatre and at age of 31 - the creator and director of the Ensemble of the folk dance of the USSR.
- It was not easy to create it. There were no professionals in the folk dance at that time. Igor Aleksandrovich himself chosen the staff from the common dancers and taught them the basics of classical dance ... Moreover, he did it all with great interest and pleasure.
- They say, he was called a Dad in the ensemble?
- It’s natural, he was the most oldest. In addition, Igor Aleksandrovich always cared about the performers. However, when it concerned the work, he was most demanding and rigorous. He would not tolerate when someone was abusing alcohol or after a whole night party could not work as he should in the morning.  He was very fond of his vocation.
- I remember the words of Igor Moiseyev: "When the dancer says that such movement cannot be done, I get up and show how to do it."
- It was exactly as he said.
- There is another very impressive point: when Argentina locals watched his performance of the Argentine dance, they could not believe that it was not made by their compatriot.
- Yes, Igor Aleksandrovich created true masterpieces by thoroughly delving into the details of his profession.
 - Did he believe in fate?
- I do not know. But I never heard that he was unhappy with the path he had chosen. Igor Aleksandrovich started dancing at the very young age; he was well versed in music. All his performances were special. They masterfully captured the spirit and character of every country and its people.
- Is it true that after Moiseyev ensemble performed the Ukrainian dance in Paris, the red boots became fashionable among Parisians?
- Yes, and it was no accident. The Ukrainian dress is very beautiful. Parisians liked red boots. They are bright, elegant and comfortable.
- What concert tours were the most memorable for you?
- My first tour to Paris in 1955 and three years later - to the United States. In general, we were met very warmly and enthusiastically everywhere. They always gave us huge bouquets of flowers.
- What kind of gifts did Igor Aleksandrovich like to get for his birthday?
- I would give him a nice suitable cup, as he loved to drink tea. Sometimes I would present a beautiful flower vase. He was always pleased with my gifts.
- What was the most memorable gift that you received from your spouse?
- A diamond ring.
- It must be something special?
- Igor Aleksandrovich did not buy the common things. He presented me with some beautiful earrings. For example, the ones with the colour of gold. I wore them at work just today.
- Did he pay any attention to what to wear?
- He had a very good taste. He wore what was becoming and suited him well. Besides, he was a very neat person.
- Where did Igor Aleksandrovich like to spend holidays?
- One of his favourite destinations was Lake Issyk-Kul in Kyrgyzstan. Igor swam well and used to do a lot of walking.
- Had he a desire to stay and live abroad?
- He never even talked about it. He liked to travel around the world and to see how his ensemble was welcomed with delight everywhere. On the way back home, he always said that he was happy.
- Did he die suddenly?
- People always die unexpectedly. Igor Aleksandrovich was at very advanced age. However, I must confess, I tried not to think about the negative, trying to drive away the thoughts of death.
- What would you say to your husband, if he could hear you?
- "Honey, I've always loved you and love you still!" I am thankful that I had lived with a genius for so long time.