The Mariinsky Ballet, Russia, 2016

Tour Dates: 19th October - 9th November, 2016

The Mariinsky Ballet is closely linked with the entire history of the development of Russian choreographic art which began more than two and a half centuries ago...

Tour Dates
  • 19th October - 9th November, 2016


The Mariinsky Ballet is closely linked with the entire history of the development of Russian choreographic art which began more than two and a half centuries ago. An important role in the establishment and evolution of Russian ballet was played by foreign dance masters. At the end of the 18th century, Franz Hilverding, Gasparo Angiolini, Giuseppe Canziani and Charles le Picq were all working in St Petersburg. As far back as the 1790’s, however, the first Russian ballet teacher, Ivan Valberkh, came to the fore. The main sphere of his activities was in a small mime ballet company. He sought to make his productions rich in subject matter and to create recognisable, lifelike images.

Ballet divertissements, reflecting his response to the events of the Napoleonic War, occupied a special place in his work. The history of St Petersburg ballet in the 19th century was associated with the activities of Charles Didelot, Jules Perrot, and Arthur Saint-Léon. In 1869, the position of principal ballet master was entrusted to Marius Petipa who markedly raised the professional standards of the company. The peak accomplishments of this famous choreographer were ballets staged in the period of his collaboration with the composers Pyotr Tchaikovsky and Alexander Glazunov – The Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and Raymonda. The talents of many generations of ballerinas have been revealed in these works – from Yekaterina Vyazem, Marina Semenova and Galina Ulanova to younger dancers who are just starting their careers at the Mariinsky Theatre. At the turn of the 19th century, the Mariinsky Ballet produced such great dancers as Anna Pavlova, Mathilde Kschessinska, Tamara Karsavina, Olga Preobrazhenskaya, Olga Spesivtseva, Vaslav Nijinsky and Nikolai and Sergei Legat. Many of them brought glory to Russian ballet during the legendary Saisons russes in Paris which brought the pioneering works of Mikhail Fokine to Europe. The first years following the Russian Revolution ushered in difficult times for the Mariinsky Theatre. Almost all its leading artists abandoned the company. Nevertheless, the classical repertoire was retained during this period. In 1922 when Fyodor Lopukhov, a daring innovator and a brilliant connoisseur of the past, became head of the company, its repertoire was enriched with new productions, in particular ballets dealing with contemporary life. Galina Ulanova, Alexei Yermolayev, Marina Semenova and Vakhtang Chabukiani all danced at the Mariinsky Theatre during that period.

Ballet in the 1930’s was largely influenced by dramatic theatre, and this was reflected in such productions as Rostislav Zakharov’s The Fountain of Bakhchisarai, Vakhtang Chabukiani’s The Heart of the Hills and Leonid Lavrovsky’s Romeo and Juliet.

The 1960’s saw Spartacus and Choreographic Miniatures by Leonid Yakobson being staged, as well as productions of The Stone Flower and The Legend of Love by Yuri Grigorovich and The Coast of Hope and The Leningrad Symphony by Igor Belsky – ballets which revived the traditions of symphonic dances. The success of these productions would obviously have been impossible without superb performers. During the period of the 1950’s-1970’s, the company’s dancers included Irina Kolpakova, Natalia Makarova, Alla Osipenko, Irina Gensler, Alla Sizova, Rudolf Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Valery Panov, Yuri Soloviev and Anatoly Sapogov. La Sylphide and Napoli by August Bournonville appeared in the repertoire towards the end of the 1970s, as did fragments of old choreography by Perrot, Saint-Léon and Coralli. Roland Petit and Maurice Béjart came to work with the company for some time.

The present-day repertoire of the Mariinsky Ballet includes, along with Petipa’s legacy – Swan Lake, Raymonda, Le Corsaire, La Bayadére and The Sleeping Beauty – ballets staged by Michel Fokine, George Balanchine, Frederic Ashton, William Forsythe, Alexei Ratmansky, Angelin Preljocaj and Wayne McGregor.

Ever since 2001, the Mariinsky Theatre has hosted the annual International Ballet Festival Mariinsky, its participants the greatest soloists from leading ballet companies from all over the globe.

Artistic & General Director: Valery Gergiev

Valery Gergiev is Artistic and General Director of the Mariinsky Theatre. He established and directs festivals including the Stars of the White Nights, the Gergiev Festival (the Netherlands) and the Moscow Easter Festival. In 1997 following Sir Georg Solti’s death, Valery Gergiev took over the World Orchestra for Peace. The maestro is Principal Conductor of the London Symphony Orchestra and, starting in 2015, will become Principal Conductor of the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra.

At the Mariinsky Theatre Gergiev has overseen the emergence of a plethora of world-class singers. Under his direction the theatre’s opera and ballet repertoires have become much richer and more diverse, now including a broad range of works from 18th to 20th century classics as well as music by contemporary composers. In 2006 the Concert Hall opened on the site of workshops that had burnt down, and 2 May 2013 saw the opening of the new Mariinsky Theatre (Mariinsky-II) alongside the historical building, thanks to which the Mariinsky Theatre was transformed into a theatre and concert complex unparalleled in Russia.

Established by Gergiev in 2009, the Mariinsky recording label has already released more than 25 discs that have won praise and acclaim from critics and audiences alike across the globe. He works with the Metropolitan Opera, the Vienna, New York and Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestras and the Filarmonica della Scala. In 2014 the Children’s Chorus of Russia, founded on the initiative of Valery Gergiev on the basis of the All-Russian Choral Society, first performed a programme at the Mariinsky-II and subsequently took part in the Closing Ceremony of the XXII Olympic Games in Sochi. Gergiev’s numerous awards and prizes include prestigious government decorations from Russia, Germany, Italy, France, Japan, the Netherlands and Poland. He is Dean of the Faculty of Arts of the St Petersburg State University, Co-Chairman of the Organisational Committee of the XV International Tchaikovsky Competition, Chairman of the All-Russian Choral Society and Honorary President of the Edinburgh International Festival. In 2012 the maestro was awarded the titles of Honorary Doctor of the Moscow State University and Honorary Professor of the St Petersburg Rimsky-Korsakov Conservatoire.