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Le spectre de la rose

Maison de la Danse de Lyon 2018

Choreographer(s) : Fokine, Michel (Russian Federation)

Present in collection(s): Maison de la Danse de Lyon , Saisons 2010 > 2019

en fr

Le spectre de la rose

Maison de la Danse de Lyon 2018

Choreographer(s) : Fokine, Michel (Russian Federation)

Present in collection(s): Maison de la Danse de Lyon , Saisons 2010 > 2019

en fr

Le spectre de la rose

Le Spectre de la rose (The Spirit of the Rose) is a short ballet about a young girl who dreams of dancing with the spirit of a souvenir rose from her first ball. Jean-Louis Vaudoyer based the ballet story on a verse by Théophile Gautier.   

Michel Fokine choreographed the ballet to the music of Carl Maria von Weber's piano piece Aufforderung zum Tanz (Invitation to the Dance) as orchestrated by Hector Berlioz in 1841. Léon Bakst designed the original Biedermeier sets and costumes.

The ballet was first presented in Monte Carlo on 19 April 1911. Nijinsky danced The Rose and Tamara Karsavina danced The Young Girl. Spectre became internationally famous for the spectacular leap Nijinsky made through a window at the ballet's end.

Fokine, Michel

Michel Fokine, original name Mikhail Mikhaylovich Fokine,  (born April 23 [April 11, old style], 1880, St. Petersburg, Russia—died  Aug. 22, 1942, New York City), dancer and choreographer who profoundly influenced the 20th-century classical ballet repertoire. In 1905 he composed the solo The Dying Swan for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. As chief choreographer for the impresario Serge Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes from 1909 to 1914, he created L’Oiseau de feu (1910; The Firebird) and Petrushka (1911).

Fokine was born of a prosperous middle-class family and entered the Imperial Ballet School at the Mariinsky  Theatre in 1889, where he distinguished himself for the breadth of his  interests and studies. Fokine was talented not only as a dancer but also  as a student of music and painting. He had a fresh and inquiring  attitude toward everything connected with the ballet and began quite  early to plan choreography,  to seek appropriate music in the school library, and to sketch designs.  His development as a dancer—he made his debut with the Imperial Russian Ballet on his 18th birthday—was paralleled by his development as a choreographer and designer.

In 1904 he wrote the scenario for his first ballet, which was based on the ancient Greco-Roman legend of Daphnis and Chloe.  He sent it to the director of the Imperial Theatre with a note about  reforms he wanted to see adopted by choreographers and producers. His  crusade for artistic unity in ballet had already begun, but at this  stage it made little impact. He was not encouraged to produce Daphnis et Chloé (he created it later, in 1912, for Diaghilev).

All the same, although at St. Petersburg he had no power to implement his beliefs, he began to work as a choreographer. His first ballet, created in 1905 for performance by his pupils, was Acis et Galatée,  based on an ancient Sicilian legend. Fokine’s enthusiasm for antiquity  owed nothing in origin to the “free dance” ideas of the American dancer Isadora Duncan, although her appearance in Russia in 1905 greatly consolidated his own views. In 1905 he also composed the brief solo The Dying Swan for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova.  He continued to create ballets and three of his Mariinsky works were  included in revised versions in the momentous season of the Ballets Russes that Diaghilev arranged in Paris in 1909: Le Pavillon d’Armide, Une Nuit d’Égypte (Cléopâtre), and Chopiniana (Les Sylphides).

Fokine was an integral  part of the Ballets Russes’s Paris triumph. Diaghilev’s genius for  bringing artists together in successful collaboration made Fokine, as  his chief choreographer, the link between the dancers Tamara Karsavina, Vaslav Nijinsky, and Adolph Bolm; the designers Alexandre Benois and Léon Bakst; and the composer Igor Stravinsky, in such superbly unified creations as L’Oiseau de feu and Petrushka.

Fokine’s  relationship with the Diaghilev ballet deteriorated when Diaghilev  launched Nijinsky as choreographer; but he remained with the company  until 1914, when he returned to Russia. Also in that year, he set down  his manifesto on ballet in a letter to The Times  (London), advocating the creation in each ballet of a new form of  movement corresponding to the subject, period, and character of the  music; that dancing and mime  have no meaning unless they express dramatic action; that conventional  mime should be used only when the style of the ballet requires it;  otherwise, meaning should be expressed by the movement of the whole  body; that this expressiveness should extend from the individual to the  group, to ensembles as much as to solos; and that there should be  complete equality in the alliance of the component arts that make up a  ballet—dance, music, and scenic and costume design.

Fokine left Russia in 1918 and made his home in New York City from 1923. He worked with various companies in the U.S. and Europe, creating new ballets, such as L’Épreuve d’amour (1936) and Don Juan (1936). None of these later ballets, however, had the impact of his earlier work. He began his last ballet, a comedy, Helen of Troy, for the American Ballet Theatre shortly before his death. It was completed by David Lichine and was premiered at Mexico City on Sept. 10, 1942. His wife, the dancer Vera Fokina, who had performed in many of his ballets, survived him until 1958.

One  of the few choreographers to come to a first rehearsal with clear and  complete ideas for a ballet, Fokine had great facility and speed in  choreographic invention, intense musicality, and the ability to memorize  an orchestral score. He was by no means equable at work. Tamara Karsavina wrote in her autobiography Theatre Street that “he was extremely irritable and had no control of his temper,” but she emphasized that dancers became devoted to him.

The  vocabulary of classical ballet has been enormously extended since  Fokine’s day, and subsequent audiences sometimes feel that his  choreography is dated. Those of his ballets remaining in production have  inevitably suffered distortion. He himself was conscious that this  would happen. “The longer a ballet exists in the repertoire,” he wrote  in his Memoirs, “the further it departs from its original  version. . . . After my death the public, watching my ballets, will  think ‘What nonsense Fokine staged! ”


Source: Kathrine Sorley Walker, Encyclopedia Britannica

Ballets Russes

The Ballets Russes was an itinerant ballet company based in Paris that performed between 1909 and 1929 throughout  Europe and on tours to North and South America. The company never  performed in Russia, where the Revolution disrupted society. After its initial Paris season, the company had no formal ties there.

Originally conceived by impresario Sergei Diaghilev, the Ballets Russes is widely regarded as the most influential ballet company of the 20th century,  in part because it promoted ground-breaking artistic collaborations  among young choreographers, composers, designers, and dancers, all at the forefront of their several fields. Diaghilev commissioned works from  composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Claude Debussy, and Sergei Prokofiev, artists such as Vasily Kandinsky, Alexandre Benois, Pablo Picasso, and Henri Matisse, and costume designers Léon Bakst and Coco Chanel. 

The company's productions created a huge sensation, completely  reinvigorating the art of performing dance, bringing many visual artists  to public attention, and significantly affecting the course of musical  composition. It also introduced European and American audiences to  tales, music, and design motifs drawn from Russian folklore. The influence of the Ballets Russes lasts to the present day.

Le spectre de la rose

Choreography : Michel Fokine

Interpretation : Ballet de l'Opéra de Paris

Text : Jean-Louis Vaudoyer

Costumes : Léon Bakst

Settings : Léon Bakst

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