Evgenij Polyakov – born in Moscow on April 27, 1943 – joined the Academy of the Bolshoi Theatre, where he graduated with the Maestro Alexej Yermolaev, former dancer of the Kirov Theatre in Leningrad. He worked as a Primo Ballerino with the Novosibirsk Opera and Ballet Theatre – where he danced in the most important titles of the great repertoire (Giselle, Le Corsaire, Swan Lake, Cinderella, Romeo and Juliet, Sleeping Beauty) and had his first experiences as a choreographer (Variations on a Theme of Purcell, Songs Without Words).
In 1970 he returned to Moscow as a teacher at the Academy of the Bolshoi Theatre, where he stayed until 1976.
Moved to Italy, Polyakov began his activities as Maître de ballet and choreographer at the Teatro La Fenice in Venice, where he was commissioned for the new productions of Le Spectre de la Rose, titled Spectre du Spectre de la rose, Francesca da Rimini, and Giselle, with Elisabetta Terabust and Rudolf Nureyev, who immediately recognized the value of the young Maestro.
Between 1977 and 1978, he was the main choreographer of Maria Grazia Garofoli’s company “Viva la Danza”, in Rome. He arrived in Florence shortly thereafter.
For the Corps de Ballet of the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino, he created the ballets Tema con variazioni (1979), Andante pomeridiano (1980), Rideau réversible (1980), Computer Valzer (1981), La Favorite (1981), Studio (1982), Le Baiser de la fée (1982), Le Chant du rossignol (1982), and Fogli d’album (1983).
He also brought back some of the classics of dance, including The Marriage of Aurora (1980) and Giselle (1980), which were performed several times in Florence with, over the years, dancers such as Ghislaine Thesmar, Carla Fracci, Sylvie Guillem, Alessandra Ferri, Florence Clerc, Alexander Godunov, Rudolf Nureyev, Gheorghe Jancu, Umberto De Luca, and Charles Jude. In 1983 he curated a new and successful version of The Nutcracker, with major interpreters Elisabetta Terabust and Patrick Dupond.
During the years of his first stay in Florence, he also worked as a choreographer for the Collettivo di Danza Contemporanea of Cristina Bozzolini (Correspondances — co-choreographed with Susana Zimmermann —, Memento amoris, Grand cru, una serata da Franca, Guardami da vicino).
During the same period, he collaborated with the Teatro dell’Opera di Roma, for whom he staged in Caracalla the Pas de Dix of Raymonda and Swan Lake.
In 1983, he became the Maître de ballet and répétiteur at the Opéra National de Paris, invited by Massimo Bogianckino and Rudolf Nureyev, who wanted Polyakov to stay next to him for his six-year direction of the Corps de Ballet. With their work and common artistic vision, they formed a new generation of great talents; keeping high the academic tradition, while also opening up the company to many different styles of new dance.
After Nureyev left, Polyakov, along with Patrice Bart, took over for one year the direction of the Corps de Ballet – that was becoming, with all its young stars, one of the greatest references in the world of dance.
Still in Paris, in 1985, he participated as Artistic Director of the Foundation of the Ballet du Louvre, for whom he mounted his Giselle – represented for the first time in the Seychelles (1986).
During the same period he was commissioned to choreograph Percorsi di una passeggiata (1986) and Sintonie (1987), as the main choreographer of the Balletto di Toscana.
In September of 1988 he returned to the the Maggio Musicale Fiorentino Corps de Ballet, which he renamed MaggioDanza. For this company he created: The Lady of the Camellias (1990), Follia (1991), Cinderella (1991), Melodramma (1992). In the autumn of 1992 he realised Coppélia for the MaggioDanza – starring Florence Clerc and Eric Vu-An –, with an original staging created by the Spanish painter Siegfried Martin Begué that had great success with audiences and critics of Italy and Spain. In the winter of 1993 he set up Swan Lake, and in February of 1995 he reinterpreted La Ronde – freely adapted from Arthur Schnitzler and with original music by Matteo D’Amico – which was repeatedly performed by the MaggioDanza in the following years.
In 1991, at the Opéra in Paris, he created with Patrice Bart a new adaptation of Giselle that is still today in the company’s repertoire. Focused only on the second Act, Polyakov created Comme on Respire for Florence Clerc and Charles Jude.
Throughout his career, he staged classical ballets including Raymonda and Don Quixote of Nureyev, and even created his own choreographies in Monaco, Beijing, Vienna, Melbourne, Wellington, Berlin, London, Stockholm and Milan.
He continuously worked with important directors, choreographing many Opera seasons of Florence, Chicago and Paris.
In December 1995, he left the artistic direction of MaggioDanza and returned to Paris for a new assignment as Maître de ballet and répétiteur at the Opéra.
In 1996, he was called at the Teatro alla Scala in Milan by Elisabetta Terabust – the director of the Corps de Ballet – to do a staging of Stravinsky’s Petrushka.
He died in Paris on October 24, 1996.