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Nikolai Fadeyechev, elegant Bolshoi dancer

NEW YORK — Nikolai Fadeyechev, one of the Bolshoi Ballet’s greatest dancers, who was hailed for his distinctive noble style and his chivalry as a partner to the Russian company’s leading ballerinas from the 1950s to the ’70s, died June 23 in Moscow. He was 87.

His death, from heart failure, was announced by the Bolshoi Theater.

As an artist, Mr. Fadeyechev was one of a kind. In a company acclaimed for its athletic male dancers, he chose to be an elegant and eloquent presence.

When audiences were introduced to the Bolshoi in London in 1956 and New York in 1959, both the public and critics were stunned by the bravura of the male dancers and the virtuosity and emotional depth of ballerinas like Galina Ulanova and Maya Plisetskaya.

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Mr. Fadeyechev was favored as a partner by both, in no small part because he showed off his ballerinas and did not compete with them. In 1968, Clive Barnes wrote in The New York Times that Mr. Fadeyechev’s manner was “essentially self-deprecating,” but that this made his work, “for the connoisseurs, all the more effective.”

Nina Loory, who was a young Russian dancer when she joined the Bolshoi in the 1960, recalled Mr. Fadeyechev’s dancing in an interview: “He was an excellent classical stylist, not at all a character dancer, with a very light and soft jump, soft pliés and a very good partner — not just strong but very careful of his ladies.”