Ballet in Russia. History

Ballet in Russia. During the 1800's, a number of choreographers and dancers settled in Russia. Perhaps the most important was the French choreographer Marius Petipa. He moved to Russia in 1847 and served as the ballet master for the Russian Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg from 1870 to 1903. Petipa helped make St. Petersburg the world center of ballet by the late 1800's. He specialized in creating spectacular choreography for women, notably the leading role in The Sleeping Beauty (1890) and the first and third acts of Swan Lake (1895).

The St. Petersburg company produced some of the greatest dancers in ballet history. The best known include Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky. Pavlova became famous for the graceful, poetic, spiritual quality of her dancing. Nijinsky elevated the status of male dancers and thrilled audiences with his spectacular leaps.

Both Pavlova and Nijinsky later danced with a famous Russian touring company, Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Diaghilev, one of the world's greatest producers of ballets, established the company in Russia in 1909. Diaghilev was interested in new developments in ballet and attracted some of the most important modern artists and composers of his time to collaborate on ballets. His choreographers included George Balanchine, Michel Fokine, Leonide Massine, Nijinsky, and Nijinsky's sister Bronislava Nijinska.

Vaslav Nijinsiky and Anna Pavlova were famous stars of Russian ballet during the early 1900's. He played a slave and she played the heroine, Armide, in Le Pavilion d'Armide (1907)

With Diaghilev's company, Fokine had the opportunity to carry out his ideas. In many ballets of the time, storytelling scenes alternated with pantomime and displays of technical dancing. Fokine wanted all the elements in a ballet to contribute to the story. He urged that all the arts in ballet be blended into a harmonious whole.

For the Ballets Russes, Fokine created such brilliant works as Scheherazade (1910), The Firebird (1910), and Petrouchka (1911). He also created one of the first one-act ballets without a story, Chopiniana (1907), renamed Les Sylphides (1909), to music by Polish composer Frederic Chopin. Nijinsky also choreographed major experimental works for the Ballets Russes, especially Afternoon of a Faun(191 2) and The Rite of Spring (1913). Both works caused a sensation at their premieres in Paris.

The Ballets Russes never actually performed in Russia. However, the company brought a Russian spirit and artistry to dance that thrilled audiences throughout the world. In Europe, its huge popularity revitalized ballet. The company also kindled enthusiasm about ballet in areas that had no strong tradition of ballet, such as South America. The Ballets Russes broke up after Diaghilev's death in 1929. His dancers and choreographers joined companies in many parts of the world, and they influenced ballet wherever they went.

Russia became part of the Soviet Union in 1922, and the Soviet Union maintained a strong reputation for training dancers for much of the 1900's. From the late 1940's to the early 1990's, the Soviet Union and its Communist allies competed with the non-Communist nations of the West for power and international influence. During this period of rivalry, known as the Cold War, the two leading Soviet ballet companies, the Kirov and the Bolshoi, had some of the world's most technically accomplished dancers. They occasionally toured outside the Soviet Union, dazzling Western audiences with their skill. The leading Soviet dancers included Rudolf Nureyev, Maya Plisetskaya, and Galina Ulanova.

In 1961, Nureyev defected to the West while the Kirov was performing in Paris. Ballerina Natalia Makarova defected from the Kirov in 1970, and Mikhail Baryshnikov in 1974. All three refugees became important forces in Western ballet, dancing as guest artists and staging works from the Russian repertory. Nureyev and Baryshnikov eventually became artistic directors of major companies—Nureyev with the Paris Opera Ballet and Baryshnikov with the American Ballet Theatre.

The Soviet Union broke apart in 1991, and economic difficulties undermined the health of ballet in Russia. These difficult conditions led many performers to leave their country and pursue careers in the West.

 






Date added: 2022-12-12; views: 313;


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