lev ivanov

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December 18th 1892: The Nutcracker debuts

On this day in 1892, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker received its debut at the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg. By this point, Tchaikovsky was a noted composer, and had already produced his masterpieces the ‘1812 Overture’, and the ballet Swan Lake, though the latter was not initially a critical success. The Nutcracker told the story of an enchanted Nutcracker doll, which leads its young friend into a magical world where they battle the evil Mouse King. The story was adapted by Tchaikovsky from Alexandre Dumas’ own adaptation of the E.T.A Hoffman story The Nutcracker and the Mouse King. The ballet was choreographed by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. Like Swan Lake, The Nutcracker was not an immediate success, but Tchaikovsky’s score was generally praised. Indeed, ‘Dance of the Sugar-Plum Fairy’ became one of his most famous compositions. Tchaikovsky died the year after the premiere of The Nutcracker, never seeing his ballet become the hugely popular Christmas classic it is today.

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‘It wouldn’t be Christmas without it’ – Why The Royal Ballet never tire of The Nutcracker  

Marius Petipa created the scenario, which is based on a fairytale by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Lev Ivanov provided the choreography. The Nutcracker was first performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. It initially had a poor reception, but its combination of enchanting choreography and unforgettable music has since made it one of the most loved of all ballets.

In Peter Wright’s classic production for The Royal Ballet, the stage sparkles with theatrical magic – a Christmas tree grows before our eyes, toy soldiers come to life to fight the villainous Mouse King and Clara and the Nutcracker are whisked off to the Kingdom of Sweets on a golden sleigh. Tchaikovsky’s score contains some of ballet’s best-known melodies, from the flurrying Waltz of the Snowflakes to the dream-like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – all brilliantly set in Wright’s choreography. Julia Trevelyan Oman’s designs draw upon 19th-century images of Christmas, making this magical production perfect for the festive season. 

Choreographer Peter Wright on what makes The Nutcracker so magical

Choreographer Peter Wright reflects what makes his classic Royal Ballet production of The Nutcracker so magical, more than three decades after its premiere.

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score was commissioned by the director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, following the resounding success of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890. Marius Petipa created the scenario, which is based on a fairytale by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Lev Ivanov provided the choreography. The Nutcracker was first performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. It initially had a poor reception, but its combination of enchanting choreography and unforgettable music has since made it one of the most loved of all ballets.

pedagogical tree of ballet masters
(from my old dance history notes)

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February 20th 1877: Swan Lake debut

On this day in 1877, by the old-style calendar, Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky’s ballet Swan Lake had its debut at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. Tchaikovsky, already a noted composer, was commissioned to compose the ballet by Vladimir Petrovich Begichev, the intendant of the Russian Imperial Theatres. Borrowing from Russian folk tales, Tchaikovsky wrote the ballet in 1875-6, telling the story of princess Odette as she is transformed into a swan by an evil sorceror. The original show - then called The Lake of the Swans - was performed by the famous Bolshoi Ballet, and was choreographed by Julius Reisinger. This first performance was not well received, with its score and choreography criticised as too complex, and Tchaikovsky never saw his ballet achieve the iconic status it now enjoys. Only after the composer’s death in 1893 was Swan Lake eventually revived, with a new version of the music produced by Tchaikovsky‘s brother and others, along with new choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. The 1895 version of Swan Lake was a success, and subsequent productions owe more stylistically to this version than the initial 1877 performance. Swan Lake is one of Tchaikovsky’s most famous compositions - alongside other iconic pieces like The Nutcracker and the 1812 Overture - and remains one of the world’s favourite ballets.

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The Nutcracker at the Royal Ballet.

Alexander Campbell as Hans-Peter/the Nutcracker dances his mime sequence from Act II of Peter Wright’s production of The Nutcracker, recorded live in December 2013.

Pyotr Il’yich Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker score was commissioned by the director of the Russian Imperial Theatres, following the resounding success of The Sleeping Beauty in 1890. Marius Petipa created the scenario, which is based on a fairytale by E.T.A. Hoffmann, and Lev Ivanov provided the choreography. The Nutcracker was first performed in 1892 at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg. It initially had a poor reception, but its combination of enchanting choreography and unforgettable music has since made it one of the most loved of all ballets.

In Peter Wright’s classic production for The Royal Ballet, the stage sparkles with theatrical magic – a Christmas tree grows before our eyes, toy soldiers come to life to fight the villainous Mouse King and Clara and the Nutcracker are whisked off to the Kingdom of Sweets on a golden sleigh. Tchaikovsky’s score contains some of ballet’s best-known melodies, from the flurrying Waltz of the Snowflakes to the dream-like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy – all brilliantly set in Wright’s choreography. Julia Trevelyan Oman’s designs draw upon 19th-century images of Christmas, making this magical production perfect for the festive season.

In this mime sequence from Act II, Hans-Peter recounts to the Sugar Plum Fairy his adventures, and how Clara saved him from the Mouse King.

The cast includes Francesca Hayward as Clara and Gary Avis as Herr Drosselmeyer.

Iana Salenko (and Dinu Tamazlacaru) (Staatsballett Berlin), “Swan Lake” (pdd) choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov, 2015 Gala des Etoiles, Grand Théâtre Luxembourg, Luxembourg City, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg (May 15-16, 2015)

Photographer Jack Devant

© Valeria Komissarova Валерия Комиссарова

Joy Womack and Maxim Afanasev Максим Афанасьев, “Swan Lake Лебединое Озеро” choreography by Lev Ivanov, Marius Petipa, Alexander Gorsky, The Kremlin Ballet, The Kremlin Palace (April 29, 2016)

© Irina Tuminene

The Saint-Petersburg State Academic Leonid Yacobson Ballet Theatre 

Swan Lake ( choreography by Marius Petipa and Lev Ivanov. )