Les Sylphides, composed by Frederic Chopin, is considered the very first ballet without a story line. Although originally choreographed by Michel Fokine, the most famous interpretation of the ballet premiered in Paris by Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes Company, in 1909. Diaghilev incorporated the most famous and accomplished dancers of the time: Tamara Karsavina, Vaslav Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, and Alexandra Baldina. Les Sylphides’ first accredited performance in the United States was performed in New York in 1916.
Les Sylphides is a “ballet blanc” which means the corps and female soloists all wear white costumes, and usually fairies or other supernatural creatures are represented. Les Sylphides is also a romantic ballet. The stylistic aspects of this ballet are distinctly different from ballet performed today. See if you can discern the differences in this performance.
The impact of Sleeping Beauty is difficult to convey. Considered the first truly Russian Ballet, Sleeping Beauty refined ballet and elevated it to a classical art form. Choreographed by Maurice Petipa, and first performed in 1890, Sleeping Beauty is considered his greatest achievement. It was and still is a luxurious ballet with extravagant sets and costumes.
Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky composed three ballets and although Swan Lake was the first, the version we know today, did not exist until after Sleeping Beauty. Sleeping Beauty is older than The Nutcracker (Tchaikovsky’s last composition for ballet). His music, considered revolutionary, changed ballet and created a new vocabulary because it challenged the physical aspects and range of the body. Dancers originally struggled with these challenges and were opposed to dancing to Tchaikovsky’s music. As the Choreographer, Petipa was faced with the task of refining ballet’s movements to fit the music. Reforming ballet in both style and execution, his choreography is considered as revolutionary as Tchaikovsky’s music. Tchaikovsky was the first composer of real stature to see ballet as a substantial art form. Although originally his music was considered too difficult by the public to understand, and dancers resisted his music in the beginning, he elevated classical music and ballet to a new level which is still recognized today.
Attending Ballet’s; Etiquette
- Dance performance etiquette is different than orchestra or piano concerts. During dance performances feel free to clap, hoot, and holler when something moves you. Dancing is hard work and the dancers thrive off of the audience energy!
- Bringing young children; we do ask that if you bring young children they will be able to remain seated and quiet during the performance so that others around you may also enjoy the performance. If they do become disruptive or distracting please excuse yourself and your child to the lobby.
- As with all performances and shows, live video and/or photography is NOT allowed. Use of cell phones and camera’s is extremely distracting to those around you and all dance productions by RMSA/RMDT is copyrighted.
- Please silence your phones and refrain from using them during performances.
- If you have to excuse yourself during the production, please do so when there is a break in the scenes or performance. There will be a 15 minute intermission.