This Day in the Arts — January 16 in Ballet History

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.”