Mikhail Fokine’s Firebird and Petruchka- ‘We did stagger the world’.

I particularly like Nina Ananiashvilli as The Firebird  because she  is a wild bird- like creature.

On this site I have shown the exotic pas de deux from Fokine’s Sheherazade. Fokine’s ability to contribute ballets about the Russian soul leaves us with arguably ballets richest legacy. While Petipa borrowed ‘Sleeping Beauty’ from the Brothers Grimm, who collected folklore and did research into cultural history from the turn of the Eighteenth Century, Fokine  was to look closer to home. in keeping with the Romantic period, of which they were part, the Grimm brothers tales were dark and violent. Fokine’s later explorations were part of a Russian movement at the turn of the Nineteenth Century to establish a national identity.

Fokine is often considered Romantic but this is a mistake. ‘Here was a new dance drama of the twentieth century, shorn of the automatic trappings of the old ballet of Imperial Russia, reaching out directly to the public in movement that told the story through the actions of the dance rather than the gestures of conventional mime. The choreography spoke, and created a world through collaboration with its music and design. This new expressivity was owed to Mikhail Fokine.’ [Clement Crisp in ‘Mariinsky Ballet, 50th Anniversary Season’ in London]

Designer Alexandre Benois and choreographer Fokine wrote the scenario for ‘The Firebird’ which was an adaptation of two old Russian fairytales, ‘The Firebird’ and ‘Kostchei the Immortal’ . Stravinsky put aside other work between September 1909 and March 1910 to work on the score. The premier choreographed by Fokine with designs by Leon Bakst and Alexandre Golovine  premiered at the Paris Opera on 25 June 1910. Karsavina and Fokine danced the original roles.

Margot Fonteyn  captures the spirit of the Firebird:

Ekaterina Kondaurova is technically beautiful but doesn’t seem a firebird. I think the music may be played more slowly which reduces the impact of Stravinsky:

In 1911, Fokine, Benois and Stravinsky jointly created ‘Petrushka’ for Diaghilev. In this ballet , they sought to recreate the Petersburg Butterweek Fairs. I will show you the versions I prefer.

Nureyev and Pontois in 1976:

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