Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

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This Blog is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history and memories of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, its legendary ballet dancers, choreographers, scenery artists, musicians and composers.

Friday, March 26, 2010

From Chopiniana to Les Sylphides

The ballet Chopiniana premiered in 1907 at the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg as Rêverie Romantique: Ballet sur la musique de Chopin. However, this also formed the basis of a ballet, Chopiniana, which took different forms, even in Fokine's hands. The second version was performed in 1908 at the Maryinsky Theatre, danced by Pavlova, Karsavina, Nijinsky and Preobrajenska.

The ballet Chopiniana premiered as Les Sylphides, with Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes on June 2, 1909 at Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris. The Diaghilev premiere is the most famous, as its soloists were Tamara Karsavina, Vaslav Nijinsky (as the poet, dreamer, or young man), Anna Pavlova, and Alexandra Baldina. The London premier, in the first season of the Diaghilev Ballets Russes, was at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden.

With more sylph-like elusiveness, the North American premiere might be dated by an unauthorized version in the Winter Garden, New York, on 14 June 1911, featuring Baldina alone from the Diaghilev cast. However, its authorized premiere on that continent, by Diaghilev Ballets Russes, was at the Century Theater, New York City, 20 January 1916, with Lopokova . Nijinsky danced it with Ballets Russes at the Metropolitan Opera, April 14, 1916.

Les Sylphides has no plot, but instead consists of many white-clad sylphs dancing in the moonlight with the poet or young man dressed in white tights and a black top. New York City Ballet produced its own staging of the standard version, omitting the Polonaise in A major and leaving the Prelude in A major in its original position, under the original title, Chopiniana. The NYCB premiere was staged by Alexandra Danilova and took place 20 January 1972, at the New York State Theater, Lincoln Center. The original cast included Karin von Aroldingen, Susan Hendl, Kay Mazzo, and Peter Martins.

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