Petipa creates Le Corsaire, Sergeyev invents Choreographic Notation and lifts develop in breathtaking Anyuta.

“Louis Merante and Marfa Muravieva in  Paris in 1863.”

Arthur St. Leon in 1865.

Although Saint-Leon was Petipa’s superior, they were treated as equals by the critics and by balletomanes, and the Imperial Ballet flourished through their rival efforts in the 1860s.The  two Ballet Masters (Petipa was the ‘Second Maitre de Ballet’ ) each had his audience following and worked with specific ballerinas. Petipa mounted most of his works for his wife, while Saint-Leon choreographed for Marfa Muravieva. Despite their rivalry, they both set their ballets to music by Cesare Pugni. I (n 1868 Petipa revived ‘ Le Corsaire’ for the visiting ballerina, Adele Grantzow, for which he included the famous scene, ‘La Jardin Anime’.

Joseph Mazilier in 1860.

‘Le Corsaire’ had first been staged in St. Petersburg in 1858 by Jules Perrot, the ballet master of Romantic Ballet. The male lead had been danced by a young Petipa. Joseph Mazilier (1801-1868) French dancer, ballet master and choreograher, who had originally created the ballet in 1856, had come out of retirement to mount a revival for the 1867 Exposition Universelle. Adele Grantow had performed in that production before her guest appearance in the same role in St. Petersburg.

In 1894 the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres began a project to document the ballet. A method of choreographic notation was devised by Vladimir Sergeyev (1866-1896). Petipa’s most important revival was in 1899.

 ‘A page of the Stepanov choreographic notation from the Sergeyev Collection for the Petipa/Minkus ‘La Bayadere’ circa 1900′.

Today the ballet is performed in two different versions of the old:

1.A version staged by Pyotr Gusev for the Kirov’s 1977 production.

2. A version staged by the ballet master, Konstantin Sergeyev for the Kirov in 1973, and later for the Bolshoi in 1992.

The word to describe the first film of ‘Le Corsaire’ is ‘beautiful’ in choreography, costumes and Zakharova’s  feet. The music is by Delibes.

My next offering I stumbled upon by mistake and I do not want to lose it. So here is the pas de deux from ‘Anyuta’. It is based on a story by Chekhov  (1860-1904), ‘Anna On the Neck’. The choreographer is Vladimir Vasiliev, designer, Bella Manevich,composer, Valery Gavrilin. Yekaterina Maximova and Vasiliev dance. It brought tears to my eyes- Maximova’s performance. This piece is modern; it had its premier at the Bolshoi in May 1982. It is interesting to compare the choreography with Petipa’s, especially look how lifts have developed.

Tanaquil Leclercq: ‘Anyuta: Pas de Deux’ with Maximova and Vasiliev  dancing.

To finish today, we have Karsavina in ballet class. Many of the ballerinas seen here have been brought up on such exercises.

Tamara Kasavina of course wrote her autobiography, ‘Theatre Street’. I was most impressed by the fact that malaria was rampant in St. Petersburg, and she had to hide the fact that she had caught it from the ballet school. She looks abit chubby but that may just be old cameras.


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