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.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Choreographer Marius Petipa's Passing - July 14, 1910

Marius Petipa was a French ballet dancer, teacher and choreographer who is noted for his long career as Premier Maître de Ballet of the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres, a position he held from 1871 until 1903. Marius Petipa created over fifty ballets and is considered to be the most influential ballet master and choreographer of ballet that has ever lived.

Petipa revived a substantial number of works created by other Ballet Masters. Many of these revivals would go on to become the definitive editions from which all subsequent productions would be based. The most famous of these revivals are Le Corsaire, Giselle, La Esmeralda, Coppélia, La Fille Mal Gardée (with Lev Ivanov), The Little Humpbacked Horse and Swan Lake (with Lev Ivanov).

Marius Petipa was born in Marseilles, France on March 11,1818. His mother Victorine Grasseau was an actress and drama, teacher, while his father, Jean Antoine Petipa was a renowned Ballet Master and teacher. At the time of Marius's birth, Jean Petipa was a Premier danseur to the the Opéra de Marseille, and in 1819 he was appointed Maître de Ballet to that theatre.

Petipa spent his early childhood travelling throughout Europe as his parents' professional engagements took them from city to city. By the time Marius was 6 years old his family had settled in Brussels, where his father was appointed Maître de Ballet and Premier danseur to the Théâtre de la Monnaie. Petipa received his general education at the Grand College in Brussels, while also attending the Brussels Conservatory where he studied music and learned to play the violin. Jean Petipa began giving Marius ballet lessons at the age of seven. At first the young boy resisted, caring very little for dance. But Marius soon came to love dance so much, and he excelled quickly. In 1827, at the age of 9, Marius performed for the first time in a ballet production in his father's staging of Pierre Gardel's 1800 ballet La Dansomani.

In 1834 the Petipa family relocated to Bordeaux, France. While in Bordeaux, Marius completed his ballet training under the great Auguste Vestris. By 1838 he was appointed Premier danseur to the Ballet de Nantes in Nantes, France. During his time in Nantes the young Petipa began to try his hand at choreography by creating a number of one-act ballets and divertissements.

By 1840, Petipa had made his début as a dancer with the famous Comédie Française in Paris, and during his first performance with the troupe he partnered the legendary Ballerina Carlotta Grisi in a benefit performance. In 1847, Petipa accepted the position of Premier danseur to the Imperial Theatres of St. Petersburg. The position was available due to the departure of the French danseur Emile Gredlu.

For Petipa's début, the director of the Imperial Theatres Alexander Gedeonov commissioned Petipa and the Ballet Master Pierre-Frédéric Malevergne to mount the first Russian production of Joseph Mazilier's ballet Paquita, first staged at the Paris Opéra in 1846. The ballet was given for the first time in St. Petersburg on October 8, 1847 with the Prima ballerina Yelena Andreyonova as Paquita and Petipa in the role of Lucien d’Hervilly.

The following season Petipa and his father staged a revival of Mazilier's 1840 ballet Le Diable amoureux which premiered as Satanella on February 22, 1848. The Prima Ballerina Andreyonova performed the title role, with Petipa as Fabio.

During his career, Petipa choreographed ballets and revivals including:

*Paquita (1847, *1881),*Le Corsaire (1858, 1863, 1868, 1885, 1899),The Pharaoh's Daughter (1862, *1885, *1898), Le Roi Candaule (1868, *1891, *1903), Don Quixote (1869, *1871), La Bayadère (1877, *1900), *Giselle (1884, 1899, 1903), *Coppélia (1884), *La fille mal gardée (1885), *La Esmeralda (1886, 1899), The Talisman (1889), The Sleeping Beauty (1890)
The Nutcracker (1892), Cinderella (1893), The Awakening of Flora (1894),*Swan Lake (1895)
*The Little Humpbacked Horse (1895), Raymonda (1898), The Seasons (1900), Harlequinade (1900).

Marius Petipa died on July 14, 1910 at the age of ninety-two, and was interred three days later in the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg.(Petipa's funeral - photo above)

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