Directed by Denis Sneguirev • Documentary • 2019 • 52 minutes
Marius Petipa was an unlikely artistic revolutionary. A middling dancer, he bounced around European cultural centres until he finally washed up in St. Petersburg in 1847 at age 29 – hired, sight unseen, by the Imperial Ballet as a principal dancer. A skilled socialite, he curried favor with the right people and within a decade staged his first ballet: the massive epic The Pharaoh’s Daughter.
Petipa became successful, but it would be decades before he emerged as the groundbreaking choreographer whose style transformed ballet and spread from Russia to the rest of the world. Indeed, his contributions dominated the form for generations. It is no coincidence that for his final performance, Rudolf Nureyev chose a Petipa ballet.
MARIUS PETIPA: THE FRENCH MASTER OF RUSSIAN BALLET traces Petipa’s career from his early, crowd-pleasing choreography to the works that would become his masterpieces: Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake. Their stunning choreography and Tchaikovsky’s music elevated ballet for the first time to one of the world’s great art forms.
“A quick and enlightening dive into ballet history, and the dancing is worth rewinding for." —Amy Brandt, Point Magazine