Three generations of Fokine’s Dying Swan and Costume Design by Karl Lagerfeld.

Karl Lagerfeld designs a costume for The Dying Swan.

Fokine’s ‘The Dying Swan’ to solo cello ‘Le Cygne’ from Saint-Saens’s ‘Carrnival of Animals’. The idea for the dance originated with Palova’s reading of Tennyson’s poem, ‘The Dying Swan’. It was first performed by Pavlova in St. Petersburg (1905).

Fokine remarked in Dance Magazine (August 1931):

It was almost an improvisation. I danced in front of her [Pavlova], she directly behind me. Then she danced and I walked alongside her, curving her arms and correcting details of poses. Prior to this composition, I was accused of barefooted tendencies and of rejecting toe dancing in general. The Dying Swan was my answer to such criticism. This dance became the symbol of the New Russian Ballet. It was a combination of masterful technique with expressiveness. It was like a proof that the dance could and should satisfy not only the eye, but through the medium of the eye should penetrate the soul.

The dance is technically more difficult than it may appear. The dancer moves constantly using  different bourrees. The feet must be beautiful, expressing a trembling. All pauses in sus-sous must show legs brought to one point. The arms and the back work independently of the feet which continue to move regularly.

Here is Anna Pavlova, 1905 Kirov ballet:

Each ballerina has a personal interpretation. I have chosen films I especially love. I could not find one for Fonteyn which was a great disappointment. So I used this clip from Fonteyn and Nureyev in ‘Swan Lake’:

An extraordinary version with Nina Ananiashivili ballerina of the Gerogia State Ballet:

Svetlana Zakharova dancing:

Zakharova in class:

A simple elegance and sense of design with Uliana Lopatkina:

Finally, Nuria Moreno from The Lindsay Kemp Company performing choreography by Marco Berriel:

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