Vladimir Viktorovich Vasiliev, a Russian ballet dancer, was principal dancer with the Bolshoi Ballet, and was best known for his role of Spartacus and his powerful leaps and turns.CareerBorn in Moscow in 1940, the son of a truck driver, Vasiliev graduated from the Moscow Ballet School in 1958 and joined the Bolshoi Ballet. He became a premier dancer who made enormous contributions to the development of classical male dance; he came to embody the strong new Bolshoi male.He was the first dancer to be given the award la médaille d’or du meilleur danseur du Monde ; subsequently Mikhail Baryshnikov and Patrick Dupond were also awarded the distinction. Russia’s influential ballet critic and choreographer Fyodor Lopukhov called him “God of the dance … A miracle in art, perfection”.Numerous roles were created for him, and he performed throughout the world, usually partnering his wife, Bolshoi prima ballerina Ekaterina Maximova. Among the most notable were those created by Yuri Grigorovich, who gave him the principal roles in his original productions of The Stone Flower, Spartacus, The Nutcracker, the ballet version of Ivan the Terrible, Valery Gavrilin's Anyuta, and Yakov Eshpay's Angara . Besides Maximova, Vasiliev’s famous partners included: Galina Ulanova, Maya Plisetskaya, Alicia Alonso, Carla Fracci, Rita Poelvoorde and Ambra Vallo.