Colloque “Petipa, l’empire du ballet: de l’ascension au déclin”



June 6-8, 2018

Moscow, Russia

The Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation

Organizing committee on the preparation and convening of the celebration of
Marius Petipa’s bicentennial anniversary

A.A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum

The State Institute for Art Studies

The State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia



The State Academic Bolshoi Theatre of Russia (Moscow, Teatralnaya Sq., 1, metro station “Teatralnaya”)

A.A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum, exhibition hall “Karetnyi Saray” (Moscow, Bakhrushin st., 31/12, metro station “Paveletskaya”)

The State Institute for ArtStudies (Moscow, Kozitsky pereulok. 5, metro station “Chekhovskaya”)


The international research conference“MARIUS PETIPA’S BALLET EMPIRE: FROM RISE TO DECLINE” is hosted by the A.A. Bakhrushin State Central Theatre Museum, the State Institute for Art Studies and the State Academic Bolshoi Theatre as part of the Year of Ballet in Russia and state-sponsored events dedicated to the eminent choreographer’s bicentenial, with support from the Ministry of Culture of the Russian Federation.

The research forum coincides with the date (May 24 old style, June 5 new style) of the contract concluded between Marius Petipa (1818-1910) and the Directorate of the Imperial Theatres, initially for just one year, and then permanently.

Before coming to Russia and mounting a brilliant career as a choreographer, Marius Petipa completed along creative journey. When he was justfive years old he appeared on stage as Cupid in the ballet Cupid and Psyche, choreographed by P. Gardel. In 1827 he performed his first significant role,as Fernand in the play Jocho, or the Monkey of Brazil, as depicted in a portrait preserved in the collection of the Bakhrushin Museum. Before coming to Russia, Petipa worked as a dancer in the theatres of Nantes (1839-1842), Paris (27 October 1842), Bordeaux (1843/1844 season), and with particular success in Spain in the Teatro del Sirco (1844-1847).

Invited to Russia by the Directorate of the Imperial Theatres as a dancer in 1847, Petipa immediately made his debut as a ballet master, staging Paquita in St. Petersburgafter the Mazilier ballet that had been premiered in Paris. In 1862, he was officially appointed choreographer for the St. Petersburg Imperial Theatres, and in 1865 he became chief choreographer. In 1894, Petipa accepted Russian citizenship.

Petipa was born in France and spoke French all his life, but it was in the two capitals of the Russian Empire– St. Petersburg and Moscow – where he found the ideal conditions to realize his talent. Petipa came to Russia at age 29 and ended up living and workinghere the rest of his life, more than half a century. Marius Petipa staged over 60 ballets with the Imperial Theaters: Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake (in collaboration with Lev Ivanov), Raymonda, La Bayadère, Don Quixote, and others. Many of his ballets are still kept in the contemporary repertoire as outstanding examples of the choreographic heritage of the 19th century.

In his memoirs Petipa called Russia his second homeland, one that he did not leave through to the end of his life. Summing up his life in the memoirs written in his declining years, he appends significant phrase: “Remembering my career in Russia I can say that it was the happiest time of my life… God bless my second homeland, which I love with all my heart.”

The great choreographer died in 1910 in Gurzuf and was buried at the Tikhvin Cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in St. Petersburg. With his death, the “Era of Petipa” did not, however, end. The “Ballet Empire”he created began to expand its borders.

The conference embraces a broad range of issues for discussion: Marius Petipa’s contribution to the history of ballet around the world and his place in modern ballet; the historical role of the choreographer and choreographic notation; aspects of the development of balletand the science of ballet in recent times; ballet theatres’ adaptation of new styles, and so forth.

The conference program includes the following plenary sessions and panels.

Plenary sessions:

SOURCE STUDIES AND “FOLKLORE” (Petipa’s work as viewed through documents and reconstructions, as well as the oral interpretation of his heritage, analyzed in interviews about Petipa with choreographers, composers, designers, and critics).

GEOGRAPHY AND LANGUAGES: PETIPA’S LEGACY ON THE WORLD MAP (the transfer and revival of Petipa’s ballets in the West and Russia; the problem of adapting choreography for different choreographic schools and countries; the guardians of Petipa’s heritage in the USSR and in the West).

 Panel 1:

A FOREIGN ARTIST IN THE SERVICE OF HIS MAJESTY (relations between choreographers and the imperial and theatricalbureaucracy; the status of the French diaspora within the Russian Empire; opportunities and restrictions for foreign nationals).

Panels 2 and 5:

ALLIES AND SUBJECTS: The ballerina in Petipa’s productions

ALLIES AND SUBJECTS: Petipa and his staff working on ballets (competitors and pupils; relationships with co-authors, employees, performers, librettists, designers, and actors).

Panel 3:

THE BORDERS OF THE EMPIRE: artistic connections and parallels (Petipa’s creativity within the context of the theatres of his time).

Panel 4:

ECONOMICS AND SOCIETY (the government and the arts;the administrative and financial functioning of 19th century ballet theatre in documents, contracts, and concrete details; production costs and fees; the social status of ballet and its audiences).

Panel 6:

PETIPA TODAY: BRAND OR KITSCH? (perspectives on reconstruction; the preservation and study of classical ballet in general and Petipa’s ballets in particular; the potential for traditional models in digital adaptations).

Международная научная конференция «Мариус Петипа. Империя балета: от возвышения до упадка»




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