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

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

The Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet is a short ballet 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 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 in Monte Carlo.

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 Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet story, 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 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 which dancers of each new generation continue to set their sights upon.

Le Spectre De La Rose Ballet Story

The story unfolds around a young girl who has just returned from her first ball holding a rose to her lips and breathing in its scent.

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.

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.

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