Ballet Calendar: June

Ballet Calendar: June

The first summer month gave the world a galaxy of talented ballet dancers and several iconic premieres, and we are going to tell you about them!

June 1, 1923, is the day of the choreographic debut of Georgiy Balanchivadze, the future George Balanchine - his Young Ballet performed at the experimental theater.

A few years later, Sergei Diaghilev invited Georgy to his Ballets Russes company. He gave him a new name and an opportunity to demonstrate his talent as a choreographer in Europe and then in America. Balanchine staged about 150 performances for the New York City Ballet troupe, became the founder of the American ballet school and shaped its style.

On June 4, 1910, the audience saw the premiere of the Scheherazade ballet by Mikhail Fokine. Ida Rubinstein and Vaslav Nijinsky danced to the music by Rimsky-Korsakov on stage of the Paris Opera. Marcel Proust, who was among the audience, claimed never to have seen anything so beautiful.

Fokine's production is considered a classic, although many ballet masters after him tried to interpret the material based on 1001 Nights.

On June 6, 1903, the composer Aram Khachaturian was born. His ballet debut was the music for the Gayane production. It was there that the famous Sabre Dance, one of the brightest examples of modern symphonic music, appeared. The Spartacus ballet brought world fame to Khachaturian, it premiered at the end of 1956 at the Leningrad Opera and Ballet Theater.

On June 7, 1934, Natalia Kasatkina, a ballerina and choreographer, was born. For over two decades she was a soloist with the Bolshoi Theater. Having completed her dance career, together with Vladimir Vasiliev, she staged The Rite of Spring to the music by Igor Stravinsky at the Bolshoi - it was the USSR premiere of the ballet.

June 10, 1979, is the birthday of Svetlana Zakharova, the famous ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater. A year after graduating from the Vaganova Academy, she became a soloist with the Mariinsky Theater. In 2003, she joined the Bolshoi ballet company and made her debut here as a soloist in the production of Giselle. Zakharova's international career began even earlier, in 1999. At different times, she danced with the troupes of the Argentine and New York theaters, London, Tokyo, the Bavarian and Roman Operas.

On June 12, 1908, Marina Timofeevna Semyonova, a ballerina of the Mariinsky and Bolshoi, was born. Her debut role was the part of Nikiya in La Bayadere, and at the peak of her dance career, Semyonova was called “the 20th century Taglioni” (Maria Taglioni was the famous Italian ballerina - note by IngoDance). Until 1960, the former prima ballerina of the Bolshoi Theater was teaching. In 1997, she became a professor at the Russian Institute of Theatre Arts.

On June 13, 1911, the premiere of the ballet Petrushka by Mikhail Fokine took place on stage of the Théâtre du Châtelet in Paris. The music was composed by Igor Stravinsky and the main part was performed by Vaslav Nijinsky. The vulgarity and musical accompaniment of the performance wasn’t appreciated by everybody, so Petrushka received rave reviews from Europeans and contradictory assessments from compatriots.

On June 15, 1926, Alexander Lapauri, the Bolshoi Ballet soloist, choreographer and teacher, was born. He made his debut as Hindu in Cinderella in 1945 and finished his dance career in 1967. Lapauri was teaching and acted in movies, and ballets The Forest Song and Lieutenant Kijé, staged in the 1960s together with Olga Tarasova, brought him fame as a choreographer.

On June 16, 1961, a ballet dancer, teacher and head of the Bolshoi Ballet Company, Makhar Vaziev was born. His stage career began at the Leningrad Opera and Ballet Theater named after S.M.  Kirov. The audience remembered his brilliant roles of Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Basil in Don Quixote, Count Albert in Giselle, etc.

From 1995 to 2008, Makhar Khasanovich directed the ballet troupe of the Mariinsky Theater; from 2008 to 2016, he headed the ballet company of La Scala Theater in Milan. In 2016, he was appointed Artistic Director of the Bolshoi Theater Ballet Company.

 June 17, 1882, is the birthday of the composer and conductor Igor Fyodorovich Stravinsky. Starting from the premiere of The Firebird in 1910, Stravinsky's music became an integral part of Diaghilev's Russian Seasons and was heard all over the world. In his works, the composer delicately combined folk and national motives with the techniques of musical modernism, added the sounds of the street and the crowd, experimented with both the form and the content of ballet music.

On June 23, 1927, Leonid Zhdanov, a ballet dancer, teacher and photo artist, was born. Being a soloist of the Bolshoi Theater he danced with Galina Ulanova, Marina Semyonova, Maya Plisetskaya and Raisa Struchkova. His stage career lasted until 1966.

In addition to ballet, photography became a great hobby of Zhdanov. He owns, probably, the largest private archive of ballet photographs in the world amounting to about 400,000 pictures.

June 26 is a big date for the Russian ballet. On this day, in 1879, Agrippina Yakovlevna Vaganova was born. An artist, choreographer and teacher, she founded the theory of Russian classical ballet. Among her best graduates are Marina Semyonova, Tatiana Vecheslova, Galina Ulanova and many others. Vaganova's method is known all over the globe, and the choreographic school named after her is still one of the main ballet talent pipelines in the country.

On June 28, 1841, the first performance of the ballet Giselle, directed by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot, took place at the Royal Academy of Music in Paris. The ballet was staged especially for the dancer Carlotta Grisi, who, by a happy coincidence, celebrated her birthday on that very day.

On June 30, 1902, Anastasia Abramova, one of the most famous Soviet ballerinas of the 1920s, was born. Since 1918, she was dancing on stage of the Bolshoi Theater and became famous for the roles of Pierrette in Vladimir Ryabtsev's production of The Harlequin’s Millions and the Tsar Maiden in Cesare Pugni's ballet The Little Humpbacked Horse, or The Tsar Maiden.