Ballet Calendar: May

Ballet Calendar: May

The warmest spring month gave the world of dance premieres of iconic performances, dancers, teachers and a great composer - ballet today wouldn’t be the same without them. Let us tell you more.

On May 2, 1857, ballerina Lydia Geiten was born. From 1870 to 1893, she danced almost all the title roles at the Bolshoi Theater, including Medora in Le Corsaire, Odette-Odile and Giselle. After the ballet troupe was downsized, Geiten refused to move to St. Petersburg as she wanted to preserve the Moscow school traditions and created her own ballet company as an entrepreneur.

On May 4, Vyacheslav Lopatin, the principal dancer with the Bolshoi Theater, will be 37 years old. Vyacheslav joined the Bolshoi Ballet company in 2003 and since then has performed dozens of roles on the country's main ballet stage, including Prince Désiré in The Sleeping Beauty and Romeo in Romeo and Juliet by Alexei Ratmansky.

On May 5, 1931, the first performance of the Royal Ballet of Great Britain took place in London. Although this name was officially confirmed only in 1957. At the time of debut the troupe was called the Vic-Wells Ballet. The theater created on the basis of the London Academy of Choreographic Arts was founded by the ballerina and choreographer Ninette de Valois. Ninette was inspired by Diaghilev's ballets and ballet classics, and was a fan of the Russian educational system.

On May 7, 1840, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born. He was the great Russian composer, a representative of romanticism in music, without his grandiose music we wouldn’t have such significant ballets as The Nutcracker, Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty.

On May 15, 1920, the ballet Pulcinella performed by Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet premiered at the Paris Grand Opera. The libretto was created jointly by Diaghilev himself, composer Igor Stravinsky, choreographer Leonid Myasin and set designer Pablo Picasso. The production features music by G.B.  Pergolesi and other 18th century composers; in one of the acts you can hear Stravinsky singing.

On May 21, 1943, in besieged Leningrad, the ballerina and Honored Artist of the RSFSR, Lyudmila Filina, was born. After graduating from the Vaganova Choreographic School, she joined the troupe of the Mikhailovsky Theater, where she worked for 22 years. Her track record includes leading roles in the ballets Swan Lake, Vain Precaution, Coppelia, Paquita, Antony and Cleopatra and many others.

On May 23, 1907, the Bolshoi Theater soloist and one of the founders of the Soviet ballet school, Alexander Rudenko, was born. He worked with the Bolshoi company from 1925 to 1948. His dance was distinguished by a combination of lightness and masculinity. On stage, the artist's partner was Marina Semenova. From 1931 to 1967, Rudenko taught at the Moscow Choreographic School, where he raised many future ballet stars. At the same time, he worked with the Stanislavsky and Nemirovich-Danchenko Theater and the Berezka ensemble.

On May 25, 1870, the ballet Coppelia, staged by the choreographer Saint-Léon to the music of Delibes, who had previously composed Le Corsaire and Sylvia, premiered at the Paris Opera. The libretto was based on Hoffmann's short story The Sandman. Coppelia is the last big ballet retaining all the traditional features of romanticism, as well as the last production by Saint-Saens - the choreographer died four months after the premiere.

On May 29, 1913, The Rite of Spring ballet by composer Igor Stravinsky and choreographer Vaclav Nijinsky premiered at the Théâtre des Champs-Élysées in Paris. The set design for the new performance by Diaghilev’s Russian Ballet was created by the artist Nicholas Roerich. Back then, the revolutionary production was booed by the audience, who appreciated neither the music nor the complex choreography on the topic of pagan rites. This didn’t prevent Diaghilev from considering this ballet one of the best. The entrepreneur believed that the audience would still appreciate his production, and today The Rite of Spring is rightfully believed to be a masterpiece and staged in the best theaters around the world.