A Look into the Exquisite Russian Ballet
Although ballet did not originate in Russia, the country contributed much to its development and today Russian ballet is renowned the world over. A number of outstanding ballet dancers, ballet companies and performances have come out of Russia and Russian ballet theatres attract large crowds every year.
Ballet came to Russia during the 1700s when Peter the Great was instituting his Westernization program. In 1734 Russia's very first ballet school was founded. A few years later the St. Petersburg's Imperial School of Ballet introduced the first ballet company in Russia. At first ballet in Russia was dominated by French and Italian choreographers as well as dances. However, during the 1800s Russia truly made ballet its own even incorporating some ideas from local folk dancing. During this time nobles did much to promote the art by sponsoring serf dance companies. A major figure in Russian ballet history is Marius Petipa, a French choreographer who became renowned for producing Tchaikovsky's ballets.
As the twentieth century rolled in, Russian ballet saw a new era. In 1909 famed Sergey Diaghilev along with Michel Fokine (a choreographer), Alexandre Benois (a designer) and Vaslav Nijinksy (a dancer) established a touring ballet company. By the time of his death in 1929, Ballet Russe dance company was set-up in Paris. Also during this era, exquisite Russian dancer Anna Pavlova was taking the world by storm.
Soon many other dance companies were formed, referring to themselves as Ballet Russe. The 1920s was marked as a period of ballet innovation. During Stalin's dictatorship traditional forms of ballet were promoted. Some of the ballet performances were even adjusted to include a socialist theme. Mikhail Baryshnikov was amongst the greatest known ballet dancers of the 20th century.
Today Russian ballet is known through the world and enjoyed by visitors to the country. A number of Russian ballet companies are in operation. Amongst these are the Imperial Russian Ballet, Kremlin Ballet and Perm Ballet Academy. These are discussed further in this section. Russia's prominent cities have founded their own ballet theatres and symphony orchestras, attended by large numbers of patrons. Your Russian experience is not complete until you have attended a ballet performance at one of the outstanding theatres.