This Day in the Arts — January 16 in Ballet History
January 15, 2013
Today we’re looking back to 1890, to the premiere performance of Tchaikovsky’s brilliant ballet The Sleeping Beauty. It was first performed in St. Petersburg, Russia, at the Mariinsky Theatre on January 16, 1890 (some sources said January 15). Although by his own admission it took Tchaikovsky a while to actually get to the writing of the music, he delighted in the project, and this was yet another opportunity for him to meld ballet and symphony in a way that became one of his trademarks. To read some of his own words about this ballet, scroll past the lists of parts in this link from Tchaikovsky Research for an excellent brief essay.
Not only was the composer one of the greats, but the choreographer, Marius Petipa, was renowned for his work as well. In fact, his choreography for this ballet still influences choreographers today. Quoting from The Sleeping Beauty History in this link from the Houston Ballet, “Balanchine, Ashton, and Kenneth MacMillan all proclaim their debt to the inventions of Petipa.”
It will likely not surprise you to learn that after reading so much about this ballet, I was eager to see it. Soon, if possible. In one of those amazingly serendipitous occurrences that surprises a person every now and then, when I went to the website of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet on the off chance that they might be staging The Sleeping Beauty this season, I discovered that not only are they doing so, but they’re bringing it to my city on a tour this March. I am, needless to say, delighted. (Note that the RWB lists Petipa as choreographer!)
In the comments, I’d love to hear about your experiences with ballet — or with serendipity.