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The Russian Ballet. Courtney Jackson Russian 1001 9 December 2002. Introduction. Russian ballet is filled with a unique history as well as an equally unique style. Some of the most well known ballets owe their fame to Russia.

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The Russian Ballet

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The Russian Ballet

Courtney Jackson

Russian 1001

9 December 2002


  • Russian ballet is filled with a unique history as well as an equally unique style.

  • Some of the most well known ballets owe their fame to Russia.

  • Some examples of great ballets popularized in Russia are Swan Lake and The Nutcracker. These ballets were composed by Ilich Tchaikovosky.

  • Ballets such as these have made the art of Russian ballet one that is a timeless classic, and unlike many other European ballets, has survived throughout the centuries.

History of Russian Ballet

  • The first known dancing company established in Russia was the Vaganova Ballet Academy, named after its founder Jean Baptiste Lande in 1738.

  • Russian ballet and the realization of dancing as a form of art during this time existed only among the common people.

  • Before the reign of Peter the Great, Russia was under the influence of a strict Orthodox Church that believed dancing was satanic and sinful.

The Royal Influence

  • However, Peter the Great’s daughter Anna introduced the first Russian Dance at one of her father’s balls.

  • Since Anna was surrounded by nannies and other such servants she learned the dance styles of the common people.

  • She also attended Lande’s Ballet Academy, meaning that she was also skilled in serious ballet.

  • Anna formed the first true Russian dance by combining the two different forms of dance.

  • When Empress Yelizaveta ascended to the throne in 1741, she furthered her passion for dance and ordered that an Opera House be built in Moscow.

  • This meant that for the first time Russian dance was being performed by Russian ballerians on the Russian court stage.

Russian Giselles

  • In the second half of the ninteeth century, ballet began to decline in Western Europe.

  • Only Russia mantained a completely professional school.

  • The premiere of Giselle in St. Petersberg occurred on December 18, 1842, with Yelena Andreyanova dancing the leading role.

  • Others Russians who have played this role are Marfa Muracyeva, Anna Pavlova,and Tamara Karsavina.

  • These dancers helped to keep the image of Giselle young and fresh and Russianizing her.

The Nutcracker

  • The Nutcracker Ballet is based on the book called ``The Nutcracker and the Mouse King" written by E.T.A. Hoffman. 

  • In 1891, the legendary choreographer Marius Petipa commissioned Tchaikovsky to write the music for the Nutcracker Ballet.

  • In 1892, the first showing of the Nutcracker took place at the Mariinsky Theatre of Russia, home of the Kirov Ballet.

  • Almost everyone knows the story of “The Nutcracker”, however the original Nutcracker was not near as lively and childlike.

  • Although this piece is widely known, Tchaikovsky’s and Petipa’s greatest work was yet to come.

Swan Lake

  • “Swan Lake” took place on January 15, 1895 in St. Petersberg.

  • Never before had Russian ballet presented so clearly the shift between different cultural eras and artistic styles.

  • Composed by Tchaikovsky, this play has historical importance to Russia because until this time ballet had rarely embodied the artistic thinking of the times.

  • French Petipa and Russian Ivanov were the two great architects of Russian ballet. These men turned ballet into theatre.

  • In fact, this work became one of the seminal influences in the entire development of ballet as an art form.

  • The classical motif has remained unchanged, and because of this, the date of Swan Lake’s premiere in St. Petersburg is immortalized in history.

Some Great Names Of Russian Ballet

  • There are many great names in Russian Ballet, here is a list of some of the most famous:

  • Yuri Nikolayevich Gringorovich

  • Anna Pavlova

  • Olga Preobrazhenskaya

  • Nicholas Sergeyev

  • Tamara Karsavina

  • Glaina Sergeyevna Ulanova and many more.

  • All of these artists greatly contributed to the techniques and style of ballet, not only in Russia, but everywhere.


  • The influence of Russia on ballet cannot be denied, and continues to live on today.

  • Through the royal family and Peter the Great’s desire to westernize Russia, dancing was once again brought back to Russia, despite the notion that dancing was sinful.

  • Because of people like Tchaikovsky, Petida, and Lande Russian ballet and dance was forever changed; not to mentionthe impact that they had on the rest of the world.

  • The beauty of Russian ballet is one that is breathtaking and remarkable and will continue to grow with the changing of the times.

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