Bolshoi Ballet (bōl´shoi, bôl´–), one of the principal ballet companies of Russia; part of the Bolshoi Theater, which also includes Russia's premier opera company. The Bolshoi Ballet began as a dancing school for the Moscow Orphanage in 1773. The Bolshoi Theatre, which opened permanently in 1856, in its early decades competed for preeminence with the Maryinsky Theatre of St. Petersburg (see Kirov Ballet). Aleksandr Gorsky revitalized the dance company in the early 20th cent. and introduced a new dramatic realism to the classical ballets. Igor Moiseyev experimented with folk-dance ballets at the Bolshoi in the 1930s. The company is internationally acclaimed for its superb ensemble skills and for the spectacular realism of its scenery and costumes. During the 1960s, Maya Plisetskaya was the company's prima ballerina. In 1964, Yuri Grigorovich became chief choreographer and later, artistic director, serving until 1995. His productions included a very successful version of Khachaturian's Spartacus. Aleksei Fadeyechev was the ballet's artistic director from 1998 to 2000, when Boris Akimov was named to the post. The company is internationally acclaimed and regularly tours with such classics as Giselle and Swan Lake. A major renovation and restoration of the Bolshoi Theatre was completed in 2011.
See study by Y. Grigorovich and V. Vaslov (1984).