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.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

A Diaghilev Choreographer: Mikhail Fokine (1880-1942)

Mikhail was born in St. Petersburg on April 25, 1880 and studied at the Imperial School. He graduated at the age of 18, immediately entering the Maryinsky Theatre. He was promoted to soloist in 1904. He started teaching at the Imperial School and choreographed his first ballet, for a student performance, Acia and Galatea in 1905.

Mikhail Fokine is one of, if not the, best known choreographer of the 20th century. His ballets are still performed by ballet companies worldwide. In 1907, he choreographed The Dying Swan for Anna Pavlova, in Carnival of Animals which became her iconic solo. He also created Firebird for Pavlova, but after hearing Stravinsky’s music she refused to dance it, so Tamara Karsavina danced it.

The first ballet Fokine choreographed for the Maryinsky Theatre was Le Pavillon d'Armide. This ballet was included in the repertoire of the first season of Diaghlev's Ballets Russes, in Paris in 1909. He became Diaghlev's chief choreographer, while continuing to dance in Russia until 1918.
Fokine left the Ballets Russes in 1912 because Diaghilev was favoring Vaslav Nijinsky's choreography. He freelanced, finally settling in the United States in 1923. He married Vera Antonova Fokina, they had often been partners in Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Fokine originally choreographed Chopiniana, to later be renamed Les Sylphides, for a performance outside the Maryinsky in 1907. He restaged Les Sylphides for the then Ballet Theatre's, now ABT, inaugural performance in 1940 at New York's Center Theatre.

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