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KIROV OPERA - The Ballet - Swan Lake

The St.Petersburg school of classical ballet has existed for more than two hundred years, without showing any signs of artistic decline. The consistently high standard it has maintained is truly amazing, especially when compared to the ups and downs experienced by other European schools (Paris, Milan and even Copenhagen) over a similar period of time. The Dannish ballet might have been the most fortunate in preserving its traditions, but it was largely achieved at the expense of isolation, reaching the point of monastic seclusion. The principal failures at the Grand Opera were extreme openness, leading to a loss of the sensation of the splendid isolation of ballet art. Balletomanes were allowed to visit classes and backstage areas. In other words, the Street invaded the Sacred Temple of the Academie de Danse. In St.Petersburg the Vaganova Academy of Ballet (as the ballet school is now called) also faces the street. Yet here it is the Academy that shapes and animates the street on which it is located - the famous Rossi Street. Its two identical facades face one another, like two dancers in front of the studio mirror, forming a hallowed sanctuary, open yet closed.

The same can be said of the enigmatic nature of St.Petersburg ballet. Here the correct balance between openness and seclusion has been found. While the door is almost always locked, the way in is never blocked. It is locked only to balletomanes and dilettantes, and above all to the false prophets and overturners of tradition. But it is always open to masters of all schools, generations and nationalities, as it has been since the days of Petipa, the golden age of ballet in St.Petersburg.

The St.Petersburg school of ballet is one of exacting mastery. It does not recognize the distinction between art and mastery. Here a master of ballet is also an artist, a magician and a wizard. The cult of mastery is closely bound up with what the ballet of St.Petersburg has always cultivated - the art of classical dance. Classical dance in St.Petersburg ballet is something precious, its key component, form and language. The dramatic content of a ballet performance, all its beauty, meaning and secrets, are revealed in classical compositions. It is an art which has passed through the centuries without ever losing its identity, borrowing something from each era as it travels its long road. An art which has tried on many guises, while always retaining the smiling face of eternal youth. An art that can be reduced to one simple formula: the awaking of the soul in classical dance.

It was above all the art of the city, not the influence of European culture and history, that shaped the St.Petersburg school of ballet. Classicism, baroque, romanticism and, for a short but dazzling period during the reforms of Fokine, Art Nouveau and the "World of Art" group, all played their part. Classicism and romanticism - at odds in all other branches of the art - always come together in Russian ballet. This is what raised it and made it truly multinational: its ability to absorb different art trends, the old and the new, the permanent and the fleeting. A coherent synthesis of arts, based on academicism, gave birth to the world-renowned St.Petersburg school of ballet.

There is something profoundly human in the love of the city for its dancers. It is like the pride of humble parents when their children, in the face of adversity, make good in the world. When Avdotya Istomina, Anna Pavlova and Mikhail Baryshnikov soared through the air, they were slipping the chains of the common fate, resolved not to be shattered by the bonds of meaningless existence. They followed their hearts. And their city applauded them, rejoicing with them. In St.Petersburg the ballet leap was always interpreted as an escape bid, the refusal to submit. The ballet theatre in Russia has over the years eschewed both Imperial courts and Party committees. Faithfulness to a noble ideal helped it to escape the chains of degradation and come into contact with the great Russian culture.

The St.Petersburg ballet theatre was conceived from "golden dreams" and first made its name in the world with its "flying ballets", created by Didelot, who affirmed the tradition of poetic theatre. Half a century later this tradition was developed by Petipa, who did away with the machinery and brought the performance back down to the ground, instilling the ballerinas and corps de ballet with energy and inspiration. And then in our century Pavlova and Nijinsky, armed with the latest techniques from Italy, returned ballet to open elevation, resurrecting the legendary era of Didelot and giving mighty impetus to the creative searchings of the following generation and the art of the twentieth century.

Kirov Opera
t o p   o f   p a g e  
Complete playbill of all St. Petersburg,Russia theatres, shows, concerts, etcComplete playbill of all St. Petersburg,Russia theatres, shows, concerts, etc. !
World-known music festival "The Stars of the White Nights". Artistic director - Valery Gergiev (Mariinky (Kirov) Opera and Ballet)World-known music festival "The Stars of the White Nights".
Artistic director - Valery Gergiev (Mariinky (Kirov) Opera and Ballet)

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