Diaghilev ballets’ second life

World ballet star Andris Liepa plans on reviving all the great creations of Sergey Diaghilev’s legendary ballet company’s repertoire, with the next one to be presented in Paris.

Liepa who, over his spectacular career, has danced in ABT, La Scala, Grand Opera, Rome and Swedish Opera and worked with many prominent choreographers, has already contributed greatly to reviving Diaghilev’s productions, many of which were considered lost forever. Liepa has staged 11 ballets of the repertoire of Ballets Russes within his Les Saisons Russes XXI project.

Today Liepa is planning on bringing back to life “five or six more forgotten masterpieces,” the dancer told Itar-Tass news agency. His nearest plans aspire to stage Cleopatra at Champs Elyssee Theatre in Paris. He works with the troupe of the Kremlin ballet, along with invited ballet dancers from the Bolshoi, the Mariinsky and other theaters.

Sergey Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes became an unprecedented phenomenon of the European culture of the beginning of the 20th century. The ballets Diaghilev had introduced to France and other European countries were staged by such choreographers as c and George Balanchine to the music by Igor Stravinsky, Aleksandr Borodin, Aleksandr Glazunov, and Pyotr Tchaikovsky, while the set designs were created by Leon Bakst, Alexander Benua, Natalya Goncharova, Pablo Picasso and other artists,” Liepa says.

Among the already-revived productions are Scheherazade to Rimsky-Korsakov’s score, Igor Stravinsky’s The Firebird and Petrouchka and others. However experts find many of the works disputable, as original choreography and sometimes even original music score have not survived over the years. For example, in Liepa’s reconstruction of Michel Fokine’s The Blue God. In this production original score by Reinaldo Hahn was replaced with music by Russian composer Aleksandr Scriabin.

Andris Liepa, born in 1962 into a family of a prominent Russian-Latvian artistic clan, made his path in ballet brilliant. By 1980s, he was already an established soloist at the Bolshoi Theater under the direction of legendary Soviet choreographer Yury Grigorovich. Later on he became the first Soviet dancer to appear as a guest performer with the New York City Ballet in 1988. In 1992, he became certain of the idea to revive as many Diaghilev’s ballets as possible.

Diaghilev’s ballets, which have become iconic in the theater world, are not only being revived by Liepa and his team. For example, in 2012 the celebrated troupe St. Petersburg’s Mariinsky Theater will present Washington’s audience with a program entitled The Russian Seasons – three ballets once staged by legendary Michel Fokine. These will include Chopiniana, Scheherazade, and The Firebird.

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