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. • 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.
Conclusion • 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.