Hello everyone and welcome to the Marius Petipa Society!
My name is Amy; I am a graduate in MA Ballet Studies from the University of Roehampton in London and an amateur ballet historian, with Marius Petipa being my main point of interest. I have been working on this website for several months along with my team Peter, Adam and Jenny, whose wonderful knowledge and contributions have helped me to present many facts and stories regarding the history of Petipa and his ballets.
I was influenced to start this website by the lack of understanding and appreciation for Petipa in the ballet world today. For many decades since his death in 1910, Petipa has not been respected as such an influential figure should be. His works have not been preserved as he staged them, but rather in countless revivals that abuse and appropriate them. To add insult to injury, Petipa has even been continuously credited for choreography that is not even his, something that began in the Soviet era. One major problem that has been a primary factor in regards to how Petipa’s works have been preserved throughout the 20th century is that there has never been a Petipa foundation or trust and therefore, his works have been left open for anyone to make as many changes to them as they wish. Other choreographers like George Balanchine, Sir Frederick Ashton and John Cranko have been much more fortunate with the preservation of their works due to the trusts and foundations that hold the rights to their ballets. Only within the last two decades have there been real efforts to restore Petipa’s works to their former glory, but even these efforts have not been fully appreciated.
In 1999, Sergei Vikharev presented a reconstruction of The Sleeping Beauty at the Mariinsky Theatre in St Petersburg – the theatre and the city where the ballet was born. But instead of welcoming back Petipa’s choreography to its home stage with open arms, the dancers and coaches of the Mariinsky Ballet and the St Petersburg balletomanes rejected Petipa’s Sleeping Beauty, not willing to part with Konstantin Sergeyev’s 1952 revival. The same reaction was given two years later when Vikharev attempted to reconstruct Petipa’s La Bayadère; the Soviet stagings were favoured over Petipa. The only reconstruction by Vikharev that was successful in St Petersburg was his 2007 reconstruction of The Awakening of Flora, probably because it was a ballet that no one was familiar with. However, reaction to these reconstructions in the West was very different as the western balletomanes were more welcome to reconstructions of Petipa’s ballets. And now, more reconstructions have been emerging in the West.
Over the last decade, the ballet world has become more familiar with Petipa’s choreography through the work of Doug Fullington and the recent reconstructions of Paquita, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake by Alexei Ratmansky. Although it cannot be denied that we cannot restage exactly what Petipa staged all those years ago, Ratmansky has proven that we can get close and close is always better than nothing. With all the work that is being done to bring the glory of Petipa back to the ballet world, I decided there was something that I could do in this mission. From an academic point of view, there is much more to learn about Petipa and his works than just what is seen on stage; each of his ballets have their own fascinating histories.
This website offers the chance for people everywhere to learn about Petipa and the true depths of his contributions to the art form of classical ballet. The aim of the site and society is to help balletomanes to become more familiar with Petipa and his works through a historical and educational approach. Balletomanes can learn about the histories and meanings behind the most famous of classical ballets and many of Petipa’s most famous passages, gaining a good, clear understanding of them. The site also gives the chance for everyone who visits to learn about Petipa, himself, and his famous colleagues and dancers.
The website will continue to expand over time with the addition of new information pages and blog entries and we are also aiming to expand our team of historians and scholars. In two years, the 11th March 2018 will be the date of the bicentenary of Petipa’s birth and in light of the approach of his 200th birthday, it is high time that more is done to restore and secure his legacy. Sergei Vikharev, Doug Fullington and Alexei Ratmansky have already begun this task with their reconstructions of Petipa’s choreography and full-length ballets and with the founding and launching of this website, may more be done to accomplish the task. My team and I aim for this new society to go as far as possible so that it may do a lot of good for the world of ballet. Everything there is to know about Petipa and his contributions to classical ballet should be shared with everyone, not kept locked away.
And so, ladies and gentlemen, it is with the greatest pleasure that I officially present the Marius Petipa Society.