Oleg Briansky, Star Dancer Turned Star Teacher, Is Dead at 91

Oleg Briansky, who distinguished himself first as a global ballet star after which as an influential ballet trainer, died on July 7 in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He was 91.

His dying was confirmed by his spouse and solely quick survivor, the French ballerina Mireille Briane, by Yelena Demikovsky, a household pal and the director of a documentary about Mr. Briansky and Ms. Briane. She stated that Mr. Briansky, who lived in Manhattan, was visiting Florida along with his spouse and had been hospitalized as a result of he was not feeling properly. He had been ill for a few 12 months.

As a dancer, Mr. Briansky was tall, darkish and good-looking, filled with verve and power — and versatile.

He was as prepared to caper round a stage portraying a jester as he was to deliver down the home by blazing virtuosity within the “Don Quixote” pas de deux with the tempestuous ballerina Tamara Toumanova.

Mr. Briansky excelled as a accomplice to quite a few world-class ballerinas along with Ms. Toumanova, as soon as an early protégée of George Balanchine. The checklist of feminine stars who typically invited Mr. Briansky on particular excursions reads like a Who’s Who of Great Ballerinas, all totally different. They ranged from Alicia Markova and Margot Fonteyn to Violette Verdy, and in addition included Maria Tallchief, Melissa Hayden, Nathalie Krassovska, Mary Ellen Moylan, Patricia Wilde and Beryl Grey, the British ballerina Mr. Briansky partnered on a five-month tour of South Africa.

To many others within the dance world, Mr. Briansky and his spouse, Ms. Briane, have been generally known as the administrators of the Briansky Saratoga Ballet Center in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., which they based in 1965 and the place they taught for 42 years. A summer time college, it turned probably the most prestigious ballet academies in America.

Mr. Briansky and his spouse, Mireille Briane, as seen within the acclaimed 2008 documentary “Happy to Be So.”Credit…by way of Red Pallette Pictures

Born on Nov. 29, 1929, in Brussels as Oleg Borisovich Kayoukoff, Mr. Briansky was the son of Boris and Nina Kayoukoff, Russian émigrés who met in Brussels shortly after the Russian Revolution.

His father had been a businessman in Petrograd and had fought within the anti-Bolshevik White Army. His mom got here from a provincial city close to Kursk and helped her husband when he opened a Russian restaurant in Brussels.

She additionally took Oleg as a baby in 1941 to a Russian émigré trainer, Leonide Katchourovsky, ballet grasp at the Brussels Opera House. The younger dancer made his skilled debut with a live performance in 1945 after which left at 16 to review in Paris with different Russian lecturers, together with Rousanne Sarkissian (generally known as Madame Rousanne), then the principle trainer for the teenage Violette Verdy, a future star at New York City Ballet and different troupes.

Changing his stage title to Briansky, he joined Roland Petit’s Les Ballets des Champs-Élysées in 1946. There he met Mireille Lefebvre, a Paris-born graduate of the Paris Opera Ballet college who had already been a principal dancer within the Bordeaux Ballet. She was nonetheless generally known as Lefebvre when she and Mr. Briansky carried out in New York in 1951 with Petit’s new troupe, Les Ballets de Paris. She turned generally known as Mireille Briane after they joined Festival Ballet in London, the place they married in 1953.

“Happy to Be So,” a 2008 documentary by the Russian-born American filmmaker Yelena Demikovsky that was a success at Lincoln Center’s Dance on Camera Festival, explores why the Brianskys settled within the United States in 1963. “We became teachers,” he says within the documentary, as a result of he had by no means totally recovered from a knee damage when he was 19: “I danced on a bad knee and it caught up with me. I had to stop dancing.”

Mr. Briansky impressed Princess Grace of Monaco, whom he met as dance adviser to “The Children of Theater Street,” a 1977 documentary concerning the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet, of which she was a narrator. In 1979 she was the visitor of honor at a fund-raising profit for the scholarship fund of the Briansky Center in Saratoga Springs — “because,” she advised The New York Times, “Oleg is a friend of mine and I’m a friend of the ballet.”

Although his profession change was not deliberate, Mr. Briansky’s true legacy could be as a trainer. For a few years he and his spouse taught at different faculties, typically as visitor lecturers outdoors New York City and overseas. From 1994 to 2006 they have been creative administrators of the Pennsylvania Youth Ballet and its college in Bethlehem, Pa. In the Demikovsky movie, he’s proven reaching out to the kids in a category there with mild humor, asking them to recollect which is their proper foot and which is their left.

Ellen Weinstein, who’s now creative director of the National Dance Institute, based by Jacques d’Amboise, recalled in a telephone interview that Mr. Briansky was her first ballet trainer, when he taught a weekly class in Binghamton, N.Y.

“Even as child, I knew I was in the company of greatness,” she stated. “Oleg taught with joyful rigor.”

She later attended the couple’s summer time college in Saratoga Springs. Noting that she now heads a dance program that teaches youngsters, she added: “Oleg and Mireille had a commitment to excellence that was supportive and loving. Oleg had an influence on the course I took.”