Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet – Still Famous Over A Hundred Years Later

le spectre de la rose ballet
le spectre de la rose ballet
Photo of Nijinsky and Karsavina in the first performance of “Spectre de la rose”, 1911

Le Spectre De La Rose is a ballet in one act (choreographic tableau) about a young girl who dreams of dancing with the spirit of a souvenir rose from her first ball.

Jean-Louise Vaudoyer based the ballet story on a verse by Theophile Gautier.

The Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet was originally choreographed by Michel Fokine to music by Carl Marie von Weber’s piano piece Aufforderung Zum Tanz. (Invitation to the Dance), which was orchestrated by Hector Berlioz.

The original sets and costumes were designed by Leon Bakst.

Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet was first presented on the 19th of April 1911 at the Theatre de Monte Carlo by Ballets Russes.

Vaslav Nijinsky danced the part of the rose, which became his most famous role, and Tamara Karsavina danced the part of the young girl.

The ballet was a huge success, and it especially became famous for the spectacular leap that Nijinsky made through a window at the end of the ballet. At the time critics praised this seemingly superhuman feat.

Unfortunately today we have no way of knowing just how high Nijinsky did in fact jump. It is possible that it was no higher than many dancers who have followed him in the role over the years, but the effect that he created through the quality of his elevation was immense and unforgettable.

When choreographer Mikhail Fokine was working on the storyline for Le Spectre De La Rose, there was little to suggest that the ten-minute ballet was destined for fame. Nijinsky’s sister, who was also a great choreographer in her own right, felt disappointed when watching rehearsals at the mundane looking enchainements without any innovation. However as the rehearsals progressed, it became increasingly apparent that Nijinsky’s instinctive and total understanding of the role would illuminate the ballet in an extraordinary way.

The first Le Spectre de la Rose was not acclaimed exclusively for Nijinsky’s performance, but also the interaction of the dancer with his ballerina, the serene and beautiful Tamara Karsavina, who ignited the richly romantic aura of the ballet. Karsavina created a gentle balance to Nijinsky’s bounding, swirling spirit, and both of them shone.

Le Spectre de la Rose has been revived regularly by many ballet companies in all parts of the world and remains a challenge in which dancers of each new generation continue to set their sights upon.

Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet Story

The story unfolds in a young girl’s bedroom, painted in white with its windows open to the summer night. The girl has just returned from her first ball holding a rose to her lips and breathing in its scent.

Dreamily, she removes her cloak and sinks into a chair and falls asleep to dream of the ball.

Suddenly a spirit, half-youth, half-rose, floats into the room through the open window. Like a petal, blown in by the wind, he barely touches the floor as he dances. As he dances he bends over the sleeping girl and draws her into the dance.

But the dream cannot last and he leads her back to her chair, brushes her lightly with his lips, and is gone.

Her eyes open, and she stoops to retrieve the rose whose scent recalls her dream.

Tribute to Nijinsky: Petrouchka / Le Spectre de la Rose / L’ Apres-midi d’un Faune [VHS]

This is one of the only resources that I could find today, and believe it or not only on VHS. Really strange.

This composition in the style of the romantic ballet illustrates exactly Fokine’s contention that the technique of the classical ballet should be used only where it is appropriate.

Le Spectre de la Rose is a classic pas de deux with the dancing used in leaps and bounds to evoke an ethereal being, the spirit of the rose, rather than to display an extraordinary technique.

The arm positions used in this ballet are far from the ‘correct’ port de bras arms used in ballet as they are meant to be alive and speak and sing, and not just execute positions. So even though the legs are purely classical the dance style suggests the product of a young girl’s romantic imagination.

Here is a video of the ballet for you to enjoy.

Petrushka Synopsis And A Brief History

petrushka synopsis

If you are looking for the Ballet Petrushka Synopsis, you can scroll down a little, but first a little history.

Petrushka is considered a Burlesque ballet and it is done in one act and four tableaux. It was first performed by Ballets Russes at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris on the 13th of June 1911.

The choreography was done by Fokine and the music was composed by Stravinsky.  The scenery and costumes were designed by  Alexandre Benois.petrushka synopsis

Of all the masterworks that were created by the Diaghilev Ballet, Petrushka is generally considered the greatest because it is the supreme example of the perfect collaboration.

Butterweek Fair was recreated from the childhood memories of Alexandre Benois and stimulated by Stravinsky’s short piece, Petrushka’s Cry, which had first roused Diaghilev’s interest in the ballet theme.

This ballet is a great example of a plot within a plot. It is filled with national and traditional dances of the people at the fair. The music that Stravinsky composed was music within music. The second part of the music describes the principal characters, both their outer appearances and their inner feelings.

Petrushka also shows quite vividly the motivating principle of Fokine’s revolution. He sought to make ballet a powerful art in its own right, not just spectacular entertainment. To do this within Petrushka he used images and symbols like poetry.

Petrushka portrayed the downtrodden, the Ballerina was a symbol of empty womanhood and the Moor personified all smug, self-satisfied people.

So all in all Petrushka was a perfect fusion of music, design, and dancing to communicate a message with meaning.

This process is clearly shown through Petrushka himself. Benois created his outer form in the costume and grotesque make-up of the puppet. Then the torment of his inner personality is revealed in Stravinsky’s music. His relations and conflict with the outside world are portrayed in the choreography. His turned in position depicts his introvert nature while the Moor’s turned out second positions depict him being an extrovert.

The corps de ballet creates the seething life of the fair and nothing in the dancing is virtuoso. Everything is expressive and the principles of romanticism are translated into this character ballet.

Petrushka Synopsis

Scene 1:

This scene takes place in Admiralty Square, St Petersburg in 1830, during the Butterweek Fair.

Hawkers, dancing girls, gypsies, and showmen of all kinds and their customers fill the square. One of the showmen is dressed as a magician and calls attention to his curtained booth with a drum roll.

petrushka synopsisHe shows the crowds three of his puppets, a pretty doll-like Ballerina, a sad-faced insignificant Petrushka and the foolish, but splendid Moor.

With a touch of his wand he seems to bring them to life and they dance and chase each other around the square.

Scene 2:

Petrushka is in his cell inside the booth. He bemoans his fate and his hopeless love for the Ballerina. He complains about his subservience to his master the showman and his suffering inside his puppet’s body. When the Ballerina visits him, his agitation frightens her away.

Scene 3:

In the Moor’s cell, the Moor plays idly with a coconut. He is stupid and coarse and thinks only of his material needs. The ballerina visits him and exerts her charms to arouse his interest. She succeeds but in the midst of their duet, Petrushka forces his way into the cell. The Moor attacks him, stamps on him and kicks him out.

Scene 4:

At the fair the crowd becomes aware of tumult behind the curtains of the showman’s booth. Petrushka runs out, pursued by the Moor and the Ballerina. Cut down by the Moor’s scimitar, Petrushka dies in the snow.

The crowd is horrified by the tragedy and angrily summon the Showman, but he picks up the body and reveals it as only a puppet of cloth and sawdust.

The crowd drifts away and the Showman turns for home, dragging the puppet behind him. Suddenly he hears a cry. Above the booth appears the ghost of Petrushka, defying him for the last time.  The Showman is terrified and he runs from the scene as the figure of Petrushka falls inanimate once more over the edge of the booth.

That’s it for a short and sweet Petrushka Synopsis.

Here is a full copy of Petrushka for you to enjoy.

For the Firebird Synopsis, click here.

Scheherazade Ballet Story And History

Scheherazade ballet story

The Scheherazade Ballet is another one of those old Russian Ballets that has stood the test of time. In this article, I will be looking at both the Scheherazade ballet story and history, as I love to see how these old ballets originated and were put together.

A Bit Of Ballet History

The original Scheherazade ballet premiered on the 4th of June 1910 at the Opera Garnier in Paris and was danced by Ballet Russes. Michel Fokine did the Choreography and libretto. Leon Bakst did a lot of the design work and the ballet was famous for its traditional and dazzling costumes, opulent scenery, and erotic choreography.

Nijinsky who danced the golden slave was painted gold and eroticism was highly present in the orgiastic scenes played out in the background.

Controversially, Scheherazade was one of the first stage and ballet instances of people simulating sexual activity. Nijinsky was short and androgynous but his dancing was powerful and theatrical. Scheherazade flipped the conventions of classical ballet through the redirection of audiences’ focus from the grace and beauty of female bodies to male prowess and sensuality.

As opposed to the classical ballets of the time, the choreography of Scheherazade included more sensuous movements including body waves and closer contact. The Golden Slave also incorporated more rippling and slower, sultry movement as opposed to the large, jump, and turn heavy male solos audiences were used to seeing in classical ballets.

Fokine’s choreography was based on the study of Persian miniatures and he managed to realize the feeling and thought of each of the characters expertly.

This ballet needs artists of the quality of its original performers to interpret the subtleties of Fokine’s style and achieve a proper suspension of disbelief. For this reason, it is a work by which to remember the Russian Ballet rather than to revive today.

No revival has managed to achieve more than a bogus Orientalism, which seems crude and feeble and very far from the power of the original.

Scheherazade Ballet Story

In the video above you can see the entire Scheherazade ballet done by the Russians.

This ballet is based on the first tale in the book of The Thousand And One Nights. Although creating a tremendous impression through the performance of its principal artists with Ida Rubinstein as the first Zobeida, Cecchetti as the first Chief Eunuch and Nijinsky as the first golden slave, the honors go chiefly to the decor that was done by Bakst.

His skillful mix of violent glowing color with the cunning use of perspective created exactly the atmosphere of sensuality and passion with the theme required. Bakst’s designs were so successful that they influenced Parisian fashions at once and continued to influence interior decoration for many years thereafter.

The Scheherazade storyline runs as follows:

Shahryar who is the king of India and China is seated in his harem with his favorite wife Zobeida on his left-hand side and his brother Shah Zeman on his right.Scheherazade ballet story

Shahryar is angry because his brother has hinted that is wives are unfaithful. To test the harem, Shahryar departs on a hunting expedition.

As soon as he is gone the wives adorn themselves with jewels and bribe the Chief Eunuch to open two of three blue doors at the back of the room where the male slaves live.

The Chief Eunuch is about to depart when Zobeida demands that the third door too shall be opened. Deaf to his warning and entreaties she insists and bribes him.

There is a flash of gold and a Negro leaps from the open door to Zobeida’s side. Together they fall upon the devan.

Immediately young men, musicians, and servants bring in food, wine, and music.

They dance lead by the Golden Slave, joined by Zobeida.

In the midst of this party, Shahryar returns. The slaves and women seek blindly to escape only to be cut down by the Shahryar’s soldiers.

The Chief Eunuch is strangled and Shahryar himself destroys the gold-clad Negro.

Our Scheherazade ballet story ends with Zobeida. Proudly, she confronts the Shah, then preferring death to public dishonor, she snatches a dagger and takes her own life.

Le Carnaval – What Happened To This Ballet?

le carnaval

Le Carnaval was a pantomime ballet which was one act long written and danced in the early 1900’s.

Lebretto and choreography was by Fokine

Music was written by Schumann and orchestration was done by Rimsky-Korsakov.

Scenery and Costumes were done by Leon Bakst.

Le Carnaval ballet was first performed after three spontaneous rehearsals as a charity performance in the Pavlov Hall in St Petersburg on the 20th of February 1910 by the Ballets Russes, then again in Western Europe at the Theater des Westens in Berlin on the 20th of May 1910.

le carnavalOn 14 September 1933, the ballet was revived again in London by the Ballet Russe de Monte-Carlo (staged by Woizikovsky) for Alexandra Danilova (appearing as Columbine).

In 1937, it was staged by the Vic-Wells Ballet with Margot Fonteyn dancing the role of “Columbine

This ballet has no real plot or storyline, it is merely a series of light, humorous, and joyous incidents combined with some moments of poignancy and an undercurrent of satire.

Le Carnaval The Ballet


le carnavalColumbine









Waltzers and Philistines

The Ballet Story:

The scene takes place in the ant-chamber of a ballroom and its only furniture is two small striped settees.

Columbine, Harlquin, Pantalon, the wistful Peirrot, and other characters from Commedia Dell’arte, intrigue, frolic and suffer with the characters of Schumann’s youthful imagination in a succession of dances and situations linked by the antics of Harlequin.

Le Carnaval had no great success with the Parisian public who saw it a month after Berlin in 1910.

Le Carnaval became beloved elsewhere and is recognized as one of Fokine’s more important works.

It is another exercise in his romantic revival, another restoration of the male dancer through the roles of Harlequin, Pierrot and Pantalon, first danced respectively by Nijinsky, Bolm and Cecchetti (with Karsavina as Columbine). Le Carnaval is  another ballet of contrasting moods evoked through dances which extend the range and forms of the pas de deux, pas de trois and pas seul which it uses.

The elusive combination of gaiety, sadness and precise timing required for the total effect is extremely difficult to achieve and the main reason why satisfactory performances of this ballet have very rarely been seen since the end of the Diaghilev Ballet.

Why Don’t We See This Ballet Much Anymore?

Le Carnaval seems to have been the most delicate, most exquisite ballet Michel Fokine ever created, as well as the most difficult to pinpoint.

As was the case with many of his works, the roles depended to a large degree upon the talents of the original performers, and if one looks at just the steps (except for the one Harlequin solo) they are almost simplistic. It was the infusion of lightness, gaiety, coyness, and self-absorption, combined with an underlying sadness, all of which must be contributed by the dancers themselves. That resulted in what most critics of the time regarded as a most effective adaptation of Schumann’s music and characters.

Recent attempts to reconstruct the work in England, Sweden, and the United States have had varying degrees of success. This is because the roles must be created from within each individual performer, not from externally imposed steps or gestures. They require someone like Fokine himself to elicit this from the dancers, which is unfortunately an almost impossible task for our more modern choreographers.

Les Sylphides Chopin – The Ballet And It’s History

les sylphides chopin

Les Sylphides Chopin – The History

Les Sylphides Chopin ballet is a famous ballet in one act.

The choreography was done by Fokine and the music by Chopin.

Les Sylphides was first performed at an examination performance at the Maryinsky Theater, St Petersburg on the 20th of March 1908. It was then performed in a proper theater on the 4th of March 1909. The ballet was first performed in Western Europe by the Ballets Russe at the Theater Du Chatelet in Paris on the 2nd of June 1909.

When Les Sylphides was first done, it was titled Chopiniana for its first Maryinsky performance and it remains so titled to this day in Russia. The ballet was renamed Les Sylphides for its first performance in Paris by the Ballets Russes.

The original cast was let by Pavlova, Karsavina, Baldina and Nijinsky.

les sylphides chopinThe photo on the right was taken of a London Performance in 1911.

What Dances Make Up The Les Sylphides Ballet?

This is the order of the ballet.

Prelude, op. 28, no. 7 – Overture

Nocturne, Op. 32, No. 2 – ensemble – danced by the company

Valse, Op. 70, no.1 – solo – premiere danseuse

Mazurka, Op. 33, No. 2 – solo – danseuse etoile

Mazurka, Op. 67, No. 3 – solo – premier danseur

Prelude, Op. 28, No. 7 – solo – premiere danseur

Valse, Op. 64, No. 2 – pas de deux – danseuse etoile and premier danseur

Valse, op. 18 – ensemble – the company

This version below is a full version of the ballet danced by the American Ballet Theater with Cynthia Harvey as the Principle or Premiere Danseuse.

The scene of this ballet is a forest glade. On one side the grey ruins of a monastery, and on the other leafless trees. In the background there is the faint outline of a tomb stone. The ballet is set at nighttime and the moon is throwing patches of silvery light on the stage.

les sylphidesWhen the curtain rises, the corps de ballet and the four principals are grouped in a semi-circle against the forest background. The dancers all wear traditional white ballet skirts of the Taglioni period. When they move the manner of this pure romantic ballet is a series of four variations and a pas de deux framed in two ensembles.

The mood of Les Sylphides is spiritual, tinged with sadness, except for the more animated concluding scene. The total effect is poetry for whose proper performance purity of style is essential without any form of excess exaggeration.

This ballet has no story line and is descended from the shade’s scene in La Bayadere, but Les Sylphides Chopin introduced what was essentially a new genre which was a ballet with moods and no narrative structure as well as no clearly defined characters.

The inspiration for this ballet was the romantic ballet era and the title was from the original La Sylphide.

Fourteen years after Swan Lake, Les Sylphides carried the search further for more expressive movement. The aim wasn’t the normal tricks and double turns one normally sees in the big ballet productions, but rather the patterns and lines creating a more lyrical quality that flows out of the music.

The great achievement of Les Sylphides, in fact, is its musicality. Fokine wanted it to be the personification of a poetic vision.

An Old Ballet For You…About A Horse

old ballet

Here is an old ballet, but also a very interesting ballet called Little Humped Back Horse. You can watch the entire production right here.

This version above is more modernized than the original which is well over a hundred years old and was done at the Mariinsky. This old ballet is based on the fairytale of the Little Humped Back Horse, which has quite an elaborate storyline.

The History Of This Old Ballet

The original choreography was created by Arthur Saint-Léon and was set to music by Cesare Pugni.

Little Humped Back Horse was first danced by the Imperial Ballet in December 1864 at the Imperial Bolshoi Kemenny Theatre in St. Petersburg in Russia.

Marfa Muravyova portrayed the Tsar Maiden and Timofey Stukolkin Ivanushka. Unfortunately, Timofey broke his leg prior to the show so Nilolay Troitsky took his part, even though he had no experience dancing principal roles.

This ballet was a milestone in the development of Russian Ballet as it was the first one done based on a Russian Story.

Pugni included Russian folk songs in the music, and Saint-Leon created Russian Folk Dancing specifically for the ballet. However, later a French Choreographer invented more folk dances of his own including the ‘Ural Dance.’old ballet

The ballet was very colourful and became a huge success.

This ballet, although was highly criticised by some, became the first of a series of Russian style ballets on the Imperial scene. Russian folk dance came to the fore.

Two years later the ballet was moved to the Moscow Imperial Troupe.

In 1876, Sokolov restaged the ballet using genuine Russian dances. This restaging separated the two ways that the ballet was performed. This eventually developed into two schools of Russian Ballet, which survived well into the 1930s, after which the Moscow school ceased to exist when a large number of St Petersburg dancers were moved to Moscow in the 1930s.

In 1960 Russian Composer Rodion Schchedrin created a new ballet on the same subject.

The Story Of The Little Humped Back Horse

Act 1:

Scene 1: 

A Farmhouse close to a field

An old man is at home with his sons Gavrilo, Danilo and the youngest, Ivan. 

The man goes out to cut rye wheat while Ivan’s brothers arrange an outdoor party. Returning from the field, the man is disappointed to find them dancing and making merry with the wet nurses. He orders them to stop and expels the maidens.

 Hoping they will learn to be more responsible, he tells his sons of a terrible villain who comes at night to trample on the wheat and sends Gavrilo and Danilo out to guard the field. 

Ivan is eager to accompany them but is considered too young and way too clumsy. His brothers think he is a fool but Ivan, who is afraid of nothing, is determined to help catch the villain. He decides to set out into the field alone.

Scene 2: 

The Field

Ivan sees a beautiful Young Mare trot into the field. The mare is trampling and ruining the wheat. Ivan reacts quickly: grabbing the mare by the tail he awkwardly mounts the animal back to front. 

The Young Mare is not amused and keeps trying to buck off Ivan. It finally gives up and decides to barter with Ivan: it will gift him three Horses, two stallions plus a little Humpbacked Horse in exchange for its freedom. Ivan is puzzled by the Humpbacked Horse but accepts the trade. 

Distracted by firebirds that have just landed in the field, Ivan hasn’t noticed that Gavrilo and Danilo have wandered in. They take the beautiful horses. As Ivan returns with a firebird feather he realises the stallions have disappeared. Visibly upset, he is consoled by the little Humpbacked Horse, who promises to help Ivan pursue the abductors. 

Ivan realises this is indeed no ordinary horse. Together they set off on their first adventure.

Scene 3: 

A Square in the City

People are making merry and dancing in the village square. 

Gavrilo and Danilo have just arrived with the intention of selling the two beautiful horses. 

The Tsar also enters to have a look around. He has noticed the stallions and is interested in them. Ivan and the Humpbacked Horse rush onto the square in time to stop Ivan’s brothers, but the Tsar has become attached to the animals and wants to bargain with Ivan. 

The Tsar offers Ivan the Chamberlain’s hat (thus indirectly his job). They make a deal, leaving the Chamberlain enraged and jealous of Ivan.

Scene 4: 

The Tsar’s Chambers

The wet nurses are feeding the Tsar who soon falls asleep. 

Ivan is also tired and ready for bed. The demoted Chamberlain is keeping a close eye on Ivan and, as soon as Ivan dozes off, he snatches the Firebird’s feather from him. 

He awakens the Tsar and they wonder how Ivan has acquired such riches. Ivan’s feather leads the Tsar to a vision of the firebirds and, amongst them, a lonely Tsarevna. 

The vision fades but the Tsar is now in love with the Tsarevna. The Chamberlain wakes Ivan from his sleep and orders him to bring them the maiden. 

Ivan is in despair. He doesn’t know where to seek her out. Once again, the Little Horse comforts Ivan and tells him not to worry and together they hatch a plan and depart for yet another adventure.old ballet

Act II

Scene 1: 

A Mountain At The Edge Of The World

Ivan and the Horse have come to the edge of the world to find the firebirds and Tsarevna. I

Ivan tries to capture the Firebirds but they fly away. He now sees the beautiful Tsar maiden and cannot take his eyes off her. 

Tsarevna is also somewhat taken with Ivan and allows him and the Little Horse to capture her and take her to the Capital.

Scene 2:

The Tsar and his Boyars are in the royal chambers waiting for Tsarevna. Ivan returns with the Little Horse and the maiden. 

The Tsar wakes up and sends everyone away. He declares to the Tsarevna that he plans to marry her and shows her an engagement ring. Ivan – who loves Tsarevna – is distressed. 

The Tsar maiden agrees to marry, but she is not happy with the ring; for she wants a stone that lies on the seabed. The Chamberlain knows just how to procure such a stone: he gives the task once again to Ivan, who leaves for the seabed with his magical horse.

Scene 3: 

The Seabed

Ivan and the Little Horse reach the seabed where the Sea people are going about their marine lives. 

Ivan looks for the stone, which is nowhere to be found. Ivan has the idea to ask for help and the Sea Princess agrees to bring him the stone ring.

Scene 4: 

The square in the Capital

Tsarevna is invited to dance by the Tsar. She accepts but the Tsar is old and tires quickly. 

Ivan reappears with his Little Horse and the stone to Tsarevna’s delight. 

Angy that Ivan has once again been successful, the Chamberlain snatches the ring and tells Ivan his services are no longer required, as the Tsar is ready to marry. 

But Tsarevna does not really fancy the Tsar for a husband. She has a plan of her own: she tells him that first, he needs to become “as handsome as a portrait” and for that he must jump into a cauldron of boiling water.

As the cauldron is brought in, the Tsar worries about jumping into boiling water. The Chamberlain once again suggests he gets Ivan to try it out. The faithful Little Horse works a spell and Ivan is transformed into a handsome Tsarevich. 

The people rejoice. It is now the Tsar’s turn. However, without the Little Humpbacked Horse to work his spell, it all goes wrong: the Tsar dies as soon as he immerses himself in boiling water. 

He is briefly mourned by his subjects but Ivan Tsarevich and Tsarevna are delighted as they can now be with each other. Preparations for the wedding are made and the couple celebrates with the Little Humpbacked Horse and the people.

Hope you enjoyed this post on the Little humped back horse, which is a really old ballet that has been bought to new life by twentieth-century composers and choreographers.

To read more about Russian Ballet History, Click here.

Romeo And Juliet Ballet Story

Romeo and Juliet ballet story

Let’s look at one of the most famous tragic stories of all time – The Romeo and Juliet Ballet Story. Here is a history lesson for you, as well as the synopsis of this famous ballet.

Romeo And Juliet Ballet History

When Diaghilev died in 1929, the many talented people that he had gathered around him spread out around the world to find themselves work. Very few of them returned to their native Russia, but composer Prokofiev was one of them who did.

Inside of Russia, classical ballet did not develop as it was too restricted during the Tsar’s regime. However, the strong teaching tradition remained and strong dancers like Ulanova were produced during this time. When Prokofiev finally managed to get his idea for a ballet based on Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet accepted, it was Ulanova who danced the first Juliet in Russia. She also danced the role when the Bolshoi Ballet visited London over fifteen years later in 1956.

In most of the balletic versions of Romeo and Juliet, many of the details of Shakespeare’s tragedy have been omitted, and the central touching drama is more concentrated on.

Romeo And Juliet Ballet Story

Romeo and Juliet ballet story

The Montagu and Capulet families have been enemies for a long time. Romeo is the son of the Montagu’s. Mercutio and Benvolio his friends have an argument with Tybalt, who is Juliet’s brother, which leads to a serious fight. Both Lords of the two families then join in with their retainers, until the Prince of Verona commands that they stop and heal the rift between them.

The Capulet’s hold a very grand ball and allow their young daughter Juliet to attend. Her parents have promised her to Paris for an arranged marriage. Romeo and his friends sneak into the house in masks to avoid recognition. Romeo sees Juliet and it is love at first sight. She feels the same. Tybalt recognizes Romeo and asks him to leave, but Lord Capulet remembers the prince’s order and lets him stay.

Later that night Juliet is unable to sleep and wonders out onto her balcony thinking of Romeo. He appears in the garden below and they express their love for one another. Romeo is determined that he will marry Juliet and a letter from her delivered by her nurse tells hem that she will become his wife.

They secretly meet at the Chapel and Frair Lawrence marries them, hoping that this bond will unite their families. When Romeo returns to the town he finds his friends fighting with Tybalt again and tries to stop them. Tybalt mistakes this for cowardice and carries on fighting only to kill Mercutio. In anger, Romeo retaliates and kills Tybalt. He is banished by the Prince, so he spends one last night with Juliet and leaves Verona at dawn.

Juliet refuses Paris’s hand in marriage, in spite of the terrible threats by her father. Desolate she asks Frair Lawrence for his help and he gives her a potion which will make her fall into a death-like sleep. Once she is in the family vault, Frair Lawrence says he will arrange for Romeo to take her away.

To avoid her family getting suspicious, she agrees to marry Paris and then takes the potion. The family finds her apparently dead with the poison near her hand.

She lies unconscious in the vault waiting for Romeo, but the message never reaches him, and he believes that she is really dead. He comes to the vault and poisons himself at her side. When Juliet regains consciousness and finds Romeo dead she kills herself.

And that my dancing friends is the full Romeo and Juliet ballet story in a nutshell. It is a real tragedy.

Here is the full-length ballet of Romeo and Juliet for you to watch.

The Sleeping Beauty Ballet

the sleeping beauty balletThe History Of The Sleeping Beauty Ballet

Marius Petipa and Ivan Vsevolojsky wrote the story of The Sleeping Beauty Ballet originally, which was based on Charles Perrault’s 1697 fairy tale ‘The Sleeping Beauty In The Wood.’

Tchaikovsky wrote the music and then Marius Petipa designed the dances.

The Sleeping Beauty Ballet was first presented at the Mariinsky Theater in St Petersburg, Russia on the 15 of January 1890.

Carlotta Brianza danced the role of the princess and Pavel Gerdt the role of the prince, with Marie Petipa (pictured above and Marius’s daughter) as the Lilac Fairy and Enrico Cecchetti as Carabosse.

The ballet was first presented in Europe in a shortened version by the Ballet Russes in London on the 2nd of November 1921.

Catherine Littlefield designed the first complete Sleeping Beauty Ballet in the United States and presented the production on the 12th of February in Philadelphia with the Philadelphia Ballet.

The Sleeping Beauty Ballet Story


There is a brief overture at the beginning of the ballet that contrasts the themes of the malicious Carabosse and the good Lilac Fairy.

When the curtain rises the courtiers are assembled for Princess Aurora’s christening in the hall of King Florestan’s palace.

Catalabutte, the master of ceremonies marshals the guests. The King and Queen arrive to receive the greetings of their court.

A group of five good fairies arrives to present their gifts followed by the Lilac Fairy. Each fairy dances a variation but just as they have presented their gifts to the infant princess, a roll of thunder announces the appearance of another fairy.

sleeping beauty

Carabosse is the fairy overlooked by the master of ceremonies and she enters and curses Aurora. She is furious at having been forgotten when the invitations to the christening were sent out.

She mocks the other fairies and announces that her gift to the princess is one of death.

The Princess will die on here 16th birthday by pricking her finger on the spindle of a spinning wheel.

The remaining fairy (lilac fairy) steps forward, but cannot put the curse to rest. She instead softens it.

The Princess will not die but sleep for one hundred years, and then shall be woken by true love’s kiss.

Sixteen years later the princess is celebrating her sixteenth birthday party (in some earlier productions is her twentieth birthday) and the villagers dance the waltz. Aurora dances an adagio with four noble suitors.

Carabosse enters unnoticed dressed as an old woman and slips Aurora a spindle, on which she pricks her finger.

She falls to the ground sound asleep. The old woman throws off her cloak and reveals herself as Carabosse. The courtiers try to seize her, but she vanishes in a cloud of smoke leaving the distraught assembly contemplating the body of Aurora which lies on the ground at the Queen’s feet.

The Princess is carried into the palace by her noble suitors and then the lilac fairy puts the entire court to sleep and causes a dense forest of trees, twining brambles, and thorns to surround and hide the castle and gardens.

Scene 1: The Prince’s Hunt or The Vision

Hunting horns are heard and Prince Florimund, his tutor Galifron, and his friends come on stage. They have paused the hunt to refresh themselves. His companion’s dance and sport, but when the beaters enter announcing that a wild boar has been sighted, Florimund stays behind, urging his whole retinue to go after the animal.

The prince chooses to remain alone in the forest as he is feeling tired, and he then meets the Lilac fairy who emerges from a boat of mother-of-pearl on the river.

The fairy has chosen him as the Prince to awaken Princess Aurora and presents various visions of the princess to him.

He quickly falls in love with her from the visions and begs the Lilac Fairy to lead him to her.

The Lilac Fairy guides him through the forest until they reach the enchanted castle where Aurora rests.

Scene 2: Sleeping Beauty’s Castle or The Awakening

the sleeping beauty balletThe Sleeping Beauty lies on a canopied bed.

The King and Queen sleep in armchairs nearby. The courtiers and pages sleep standing up and leaning on one another.

Dust and cobwebs cover everything. The Lilac Fairy and the Prince enter and he tries to wake the princess but without success.

The Lilac Fairy stands to the side without interfering. The Prince then kisses the Princess.

She awakens and the dust and cobwebs disappear.

The court awakens and the King grants the marriage of the Prince and the Princess.

The Wedding Of Prince Desire And Princess Aurorasleeping beauty ballet

The court assembles to celebrate the marriage of Prince Florimund and Princess Aurora.

The King and Queen make their entrances with the newlyweds.

Festivities begin with a series of divertissements including The Diamond, Gold, Silver and Sapphire Faires dances. Several fairy tale characters make their appearances including Puss In Boots and the White Cat, The Bluebird and Princess Florine, Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf, Cinderella and Prince Fortune and Hop o’ My Thumb with his brothers and the ogre among others (depending on the production).

The Prince and Princess dance a pas de deux. There are also Roman, Persian, Indian, American and Turkish characters that dance the Sarabande.

The Sleeping Beauty Ballet ends with a tableau vivant representing the Glory of the Fairies and in later versions the Glory of Apollo.

La Bayadere Ballet Story

la bayadere ballet

La Bayadere Ballet is a huge spectacle of a production in four acts and seven scenes.

The choreography was done by Marius Petipa and the music by Ludwig Minkus.

The La Bayadere Ballet (meaning The Temple Dancer or The Temple Maiden) was first performed at the Bolshoy Theater, St Petersburg on the 4th of February 1877.

Here is the full-length ballet for you to watch if interested, complete with explanations of what is happening in the complicated storyline.

The Story In A Nutshellla bayadere ballet

This Indian extravaganze is in the Romantic Style and tells the story of Solor, a warrior, who falls in love with a temple dancer (a Bayadere), Nikiya. They have sworn eternal fidelity to one another.

A Brahmin priest loves her too but she rejects his attention. He, in turn, learns of her relationship with Solor.

Moreover, the Rajah Dugmanta of Golconda has selected Solor to wed his daughter Gamzatti (or Hamsatti, as she is known in the original production).  Solor is offered the hand of Gamsatti, daughter of a Rajah, and he is unable to refuse.

Nikiya, unaware of this arrangement, agrees to dance at the couple’s betrothal celebrations.

In his effort to have Solor killed and have Nikiya for himself, the jealous High Brahmin informs the Rajah that the warrior has already vowed eternal love to Nikiya over a sacred fire.

But the High Brahmin’s plan backfires when, rather than becoming angry with Solor, the Rajah decides that it is Nikiya who must die.

Gamzatti, who has eavesdropped on this exchange, summons Nikiya to the palace in an attempt to bribe the bayadère into giving up her beloved. As their rivalry intensifies, Nikiya picks up a dagger in a fit of rage and attempts to kill Gamzatti, only to be stopped in the nick of time by Gamzatti’s aya.

Nikiya flees in horror at what she has almost done. As did her father, Gamzatti vows that the bayadère must die.

At the betrothal celebrations, Nikiya performs a somber dance while playing her veena.

She is then given a basket of flowers which she believes are from Solor, and begins a frenzied and joyous dance. Little does she know that the basket is from Gamzatti, who has concealed beneath the flowers a venomous snake. Nikiya then holds the basket too close and the serpent bites her on the neck. The High Brahmin offers Nikiya an antidote to the poison, but she chooses death rather than have a life without her beloved Solor.

In the next scene, Solor is feeling depressed and smokes opium.

He then has a vision of Nikiya’s Spirit in a nirvana among the star-lit mountain peaks of the Himalayas. This is called the Kindom of Shades.

Here the lovers reconcile among the spirits of the other bayaderes.

When Solor awakens, preparations are underway for his marriage to Gamzatti.

In the temple where the wedding is to take place the spirit of Nikiya haunts Solor as he dances with Gamzatti.

When the High Brahmin joins the couple’s hands in marriage, the gods take revenge for Nikiya’s murder by destroying the temple and all of its occupants. The temple is struck by lightning and it crashes to the ground killing everyone beneath its ruins.

The spirits of Nikiya and Solor are reunited in death and eternal love.

La Bayadere Ballet History

la bayadereWhen the Kirov Ballet made their first London appearance in July 1961, they brought the beautiful and exciting Kingdom of Shades scene from the La Bayadere Ballet.

As the first of the thirty-two spirit Bayaderes appeared on the stage and began that slow unfolding of arabesque penche after arabesque penche, the audience became aware of something both novel and beautiful.

To realize that this choreography was about a hundred years old was to be reminded once again of what a genius Petipa’s was.

The Kindom of Shades is a masterpiece of choreography and it relies entirely upon its dancing as the drama is only minimally present. One Soviet critic called it ‘symphonic’ in structure and this is certainly true in the way the corps de ballet echoes or enhances the work of the principals.

Although there is a reminder of the second act of Gizelle, the choreography is far superior in the La Bayadere Ballet.

The most extraordinary thing about the ballet is that it looks quite modern and far less dated and old-fashioned than many other ballets half its age.

The entire ballet has been restaged and revised by Natalya Makarova for the American Ballet Theatre.

Below you can see a stunning preview of the highlights of the La Bayadere Ballet done by the Royal Ballet in Markarova’s style.

Raymonda Ballet – The History And The Story

Raymond ballet

The Raymonda Ballet is a Russian ballet performed in three acts and four scenes. It was choreographed by Marius Petipa to music by Alexander Glazunov.

Raymonda was first presented by the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Mariinsky Theater on the 19th of January 1898 in St Petersburg, Russia.

The Raymonda Ballet was specially created for the benefit performance of the Italian ballerina Pierina Legnani, who created the title role.

Today the Raymonda Ballet is still performed by many ballet companies throughout the world to choreography that is derived primarily from the Kirov Ballet’s 1948 revival as staged by Konstantin Sergeyev.

Marius Petipa’s choreography was greatly altered and in some cases changed entirely, especially in the dances for the corps de ballet. This revised choreography is the version most used today.

Here is the Raymonda Ballet in its entirety.

 Raymonda Ballet Synopsis

Scene 1: Raymond’s Feast


At the castle of Doris, people are getting ready for the celebrations of the young Countess Raymonda’s name day.

Raymonda’s Aunt Sybille chides those who are present, including Raymonda’s two friends Henrietta and Clemence and the two trouble makers Beranger and Bernard for their idleness and passion for dancing.

She tells them of the legend of the White Lady who is the protector of the castle who warns the Doris household every time one of its members is in danger and casts punishment on those who don’t do their duties.

The young people, of course, laugh at the countess’s superstitions and continue with their celebrations.

Raymonda’s fiance’s messenger arrives. He is sent by the noble crusader knight, Jean de Brienne and he bears a letter for his beloved.

Raymonda is estatic to read that King Andrew II of Hungary, for whom Jean de Brienne has fought, is returning home in triumph and that her fiance will arrive at the Doris castle the next day for their wedding.Raymonda ballet

Celebrations are once again interupted with the arrival of an uninvited Saracen knight, Abderakhman and his entourage, who have need of shelter for the night.

Captivated by Raymonda’s beauty, Abderakhman falls in love with her at once and resolves to do anything to win her.

The party goes on until late into the night and once left alone an exhausted Raymonda lies down on a couch and falls asleep. As she sleeps, she begins to dream.

The White Lady appears illuminated by the moonlight and she orders Raymonda to follow her.

Scene 2: The Visions

Raymonda follows the White Lady along the terrace in her state of unconsciousness.

The mist from the garden evapourates and Jean de Brienne appears. Overjoyed Raymonda runs into his arms and they are surrounded by knights and celestial maidens. The garden is illuminated with beautiful lights and Raymonda expresses her joy to the White Lady, who interrupts her enthusiasm with a vision.

When Raymonda tries to return to her fiance, she finds instead Abderakhman who has taken his place. Abderakhman declares his love for her, but Raymonda although confused and upset is quick to reject him.

Elves and imps appear from everywhere surrounding Raymonda who begs the White Lady to save her. Abderakhman tries to take Raymonda by force, but she cries and faints. The frightful vision disappears along with the White Lady.

The Courtyard Of The CastleRaymond ballet

Raymonda welcomes her guest at a feast in honor of Jean de Brienne’s arrival, but she cannot hide her uneasiness caused by his delay.

Abderakhman approaches her repeatedly but remembering the warnings of the White Lady she rejects him with contempt.

Abderakhman realizes that the only way to possess Raymonda is by force. He calls his slaves to dance for her, afterwhich he summons his cup bearers and they pour a potion into everyone’s cups causing all the guests to become drunk.

Seizing his chance, Abderakham grabs Raymonda in an attempt to abduct her, but luckily Jean de Brienne arrives just in time along with King Andrew II and his knights.

He saves Raymonda from the hands of the Saracens and tries to seize Abderakhman.Raymond

King Andrew commands the two rivals to put an end to the matter in a duel, during which the White Lady appears on the castle tower.

Abderakham is dazed and dies by Jean de Brienne’s sword.

Raymonda joyfully embraces her fiance and the two reaffirm their love as the King joins their hands.

The Wedding

Raymonda and Jean de Brienne are finally married and King Andrew II of Hungary gives the newly wedded couple his blessing.

In his honor, everyone at court is dressed in Hungarian fashion and perform a range of Hungarian-style dances, ending in an Apotheosis where everyone comes together in a knightly tournament.