Ballet Calendar: December

Ballet Calendar: December

December is the time when we are waiting for the New Year's miracle, the time of The Nutcracker! But this is not the only reason why the first month of winter is important for ballet.

On December 1, 1976, the ballet Isadora, created especially for Maya Plisetskaya, premiered in Monte Carlo. After the performance was over, the audience didn’t let the brilliant ballerina go for over half an hour, giving her a standing ovation!  

On December 7, 1732, the Royal Theatre Covent Garden in London opened its doors to the public. It is currently the home stage for the Royal Opera and the Royal Ballet of Great Britain. 

On December 7, 1905, Mikhail Gabovich was born. The great dancer performed the lead roles in almost all Soviet ballets on stage of the Bolshoi Theater. The brightest were his duets with Galina Ulanova. Later, Gabovich studied the history of ballet, wrote articles and ballet scripts, and taught.  

On December 14, 1869, the Russian premiere of the ballet Don Quixote by Marius Petipa took place at the Bolshoi Theater. The performance was a huge success!   

On December 15, 1927, Nikolai Simachev - a soloist of the Bolshoi Theater, choreographer and teacher - was born. Since 1968, he had been working as a repetiteur with the Bolshoi Theater. Among his students are Natalia Bessmertnova, Sergei Filin, Nikolai Tsiskaridze. 

On December 16, 1932, is the birthday of Rodion Shchedrin, one of the most famous authors of opera, ballet and symphonic music. He wrote the main parts in the ballets for his brilliant wife Maya Plisetskaya: The Little Humpbacked Horse, Anna Karenina, The Seagull, The Lady with the Lapdog, Carmen. 

On December 18, 1892, Lev Ivanov's ballet The Nutcracker premiered at the Mariinsky Theater. Music especially for this ballet was ordered from Tchaikovsky. All the students of the Imperial Ballet Theater School performed in the ballet. The plot of the production was based on Hoffmann's fairy tale. Until now, New Year's Eve is the time of The Nutcracker in almost all opera and ballet theaters!  

On December 21, a hundred years ago, Alicia Alonso, a star of the Cuban ballet, was born. She began her professional career with the Ballet Theater in New York. Later, in Cuba, Alicia Alonso created a ballet company that was transformed into a state structure and became the National Ballet of Cuba after the revolution. 

On December 21, 1969, is the birthday of Nadezhda Gracheva, a People's Artist of Russia, laureate of the State Prize of the Russian Federation, winner of the Benois de la Danse prize. In 2011, Nadezhda Gracheva finished her stage career and became a teacher-repetiteur of the Bolshoi Ballet Company. 

On December 22, 1907, Anna Pavlova performed the dance of the dying swan for the first time. The concert number was staged by Mikhail Fokine to the music by Saint-Saens at the request of the ballerina. The Swan became so famous throughout Europe that Anna Pavlova performed it about 4,000 times. 

On December 24, 1948, Mikhail Messerer - a Russian ballet repetiteur, teacher, representative of the famous ballet dynasty - was born. He performed solo roles in the Bolshoi Theater ballets. Since the 1980s, he has been teaching at the American Ballet Theater, the Paris National Opera, the Teatro alla Scala in Milan and many other ballet companies around the world.  

On December 28, 1946, the first performance of the ballet Romeo and Juliet staged by Leonid Lavrovsky took place at the Bolshoi Theater. This ballet has been given on stage of the country's major theater more than 200 times. 

On December 28, 1929, is the birthday of Pyotr Pestov, who is an Honored Artist of the RSFSR and Honored Artist of the Russian Federation. Pestov is one of the leading male dance teachers not only in Russia, but also in the world. Mikhail Baryshnikov wrote about him as follows: 

"If you look at the outstanding galaxy of his students, it becomes obvious that Mr. Pestov has a special gift to recognize a dancer's hidden talent and the ability to reveal this talent."

On December 31, 1986, Artem Ovcharenko was born. In 2007, he was admitted to the Bolshoi Ballet Company. Now, Artem Ovcharenko is a principal dancer with the country's major theater, laureate of the Russian National Theater Award “The Golden Mask", Honored Artist of the Russian Federation. His repertoire includes The Winter's Tale, Anna Karenina, The Seagull, The Pharaoh's Daughter, Spartacus, Swan Lake, Giselle. 

On December 31, Nikolai Tsiskaridze will turn 48 years old. In 1992, Nikolai joined the Bolshoi Ballet Company. In 1997, he became an Honored Artist of Russia; in 2000, a member of the Union of Theater Workers of Russia; in 2001, a People's Artist of the Russian Federation. Today, Nikolai Tsiskaridze is the rector of the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet  and a member of the Presidential Council for Culture and Art of the Russian Federation.