Marius Petipa: The French Master of Russian Ballet
(Marius Petipa, le maître français du ballet russe)
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A quick and enlightening dive into ballet history—and the dancing is worth rewinding for.Amy Brandt, Point Magazine
The creator of some fifty works—from his first ballet, The Pharaoh’s Daughter, to his masterpieces set to Pyotr Tchaikovsky’s music, Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake—French ballet master Marius Petipa (1818–1910) had a transformative impact on classical choreography. After an early career as a struggling dancer in Nantes, New York, Bordeaux, and Madrid, Petipa arrived in St. Petersburg in 1847, but it would be decades before his influence as a groundbreaking choreographer for the Imperial Ballet (today known as the Mariinsky Ballet) would be fully realized, as his style spread from Russia to the rest of the world. Filmmaker Denis Sneguirev takes us to Paris, New York, Berlin, Milan, Moscow, and St. Petersburg, where we meet leading choreographers, dancers, conductors, historians, and critics who provide valuable insights into how Petipa’s ballets have been preserved, changed, or reinterpreted. Equal measures history and performance, this beautifully illustrated documentary celebrates Marius Petipa’s contribution to the world of ballet, offering a thoughtful perspective on the social and political era in which he lived and bearing witness to his influence on the international ballet community today.