Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Mel Johnson

Le Festin

Recommended Posts

We've all seen pictures of various dancers in a Diaghilev-era ballet entitled "Le Festin", and it is my understanding that it was a pastiche of "greatest hits" from other ballets, but I can't recall ever seeing a comprehensive list of what the selections were, and who danced what. Anybody?

Share this post

Link to post

here's what lynn garafola's indispensable appendices in her DIAGIAHILEV'S BALLETS RUSSES book says:


Music: A.Glazunov, M. Glinka, M. Mussorgsky, N. Rimsky-Korsakov, P.I.Tchaikovsky

Costsumes: Bakst, Benois, Bilibin, Korovin

Choreography: Fokine, Petipa, Gorsky, [Nikolai] Goltz, Felix Kshessinsky

Premiere: 18 May 1909

Principal Dancers: Vera Fokina, Tamara Karsavina, Vaslav Nijinsky, Sophia Fedorova, Mikhail Mordkin, Georgi Rosai, Vera Karalli

NOTE: Fokine choreographed the "Gopak" (Mussorgsk), "Trepak" (Tchaikovsky), and "Finale" (Tchaikovsky). The other dances were "Firebird" (the Blue Bird pas de deux from THE SLEEPING BEAUTY) and "Grand Pas Classique Hongrois" (from RAYMONDA), both by Petipa, "Czardas" (Glazunov), by Gorsky,"Mazurka" (Glinka), by Goltz and Kshessinsky, and "Lezginka" (Glinka), by Fokine after Petipa. The Blue Bird pas de deux was revived in 1915 as LA PRINCESSE ENCHANTEE, with scenery and costumes by Leon Bakst.

i believe it was this potpourri which gave rise the nickname 'salade russe' for such mixes.

the firebird/bluebird mix is the real jumble given subsequent history. when, in 1910, the ballets russes actually produced 'firebird' as we now know it (stravinsky) the re-named 'blue bird pas de deux' had to be re-named again as "L'OISEAU D'OR' (w/ nijinsky in bakst's golden costume known as the hindu prince).

the tchaikovsky 'trepak' was no-doubt the often-called 'russian' dance from THE NUTCRACKER.

the glazunov 'czardas' is perhaps that from RAYMONDA.

the glinka 'mazurka' is prob. that from the opera A LIFE FOR THE TSAR, ditto the 'lezginka.'

rosai, btw, was a classmate of nijinsky's - the one w/ whom he had jumping contests, as g.r. was said to have a remarkable jump, tho' not so remarkable as nijinsky's.

karalli became a famous moscow dancer and film star.

Share this post

Link to post

some footnotes to FESTIN w/ regard to the BLUE BIRD AND PRINCESS FLORINE pas de deux recycled from THE SLEEPING BEAUTY, first as L'OISEAU DE FEU' & then when the now famous L'OISEAU DE FEU hit the boards, re-named L'OISEAU D'OR: bronislava nijinska writes of the confusion for nijinsky, who had already danced The Blue Bird in the full, maryinsky prod. of SLEEPING BEAUTY (opposite lydia kyaksht) to rehearse the pas as a hindu prince for FESTIN. for the new 'showcase' where he dressed by bakst as the Hindu Prince he had to alter the 'flying' arm/wings details in order to keep from seeming too much like 'standard' Blue Bird. nijinsky's parter in the FESTIN 'oiseau' was first anna pavlova & soon after tamara karsavina.

i'm attaching here a photograph of stanislas idzikowski in the man's role of THE ENCHANTED PRINCESS, the concert number version of Blue Bird pas de deux that he often performed in england opposite by lydia lopokhova. (his costume is by goncharova.)


Share this post

Link to post

Aha! This picture would explain the line drawing in Kersley and Sinclair's A Dictionary of Ballet Terms fig. 118 as an illustration for "Pistolet". I never could place that costume. Thanks for the double assistance! :D

Share this post

Link to post

"the glinka 'mazurka' is prob. that from the opera A LIFE FOR THE TSAR, ditto the 'lezginka."

I think the lezginka actually came from Ruslan and Ludmilla. It's given in the last act. There are several pictures of Nijinsky in this role reproduced in Kirstein's book, Nijinsky Dancing and a nice little note about Petipa choreographing the dance.

Share this post

Link to post

i stand corrected.

indeed, RUSLAN AND LUDMILA is undoubtedly the glinka opera from which this lezginka is taken. the choreography is said, to this day, to be fokine's when kirov/maryinsky opera productions of R&L are given.

the photo attached is dated 1913 and would seem to be M. Fokine himself in his own lezginka.


Share this post

Link to post

According to Dickie Buckle's biography of Diaghilev this is how Le Festin ran on the first night in Paris.

Processional entry to the march from Coq d'or

Lezginka danced by Vera Fokina with ten men

L'oiseau d'or: Karsavina, Nijinsky

Czardas from Raymonda: Sophie Fedorova, Mordkine

Gopak from Fair at Sorotchinsk: Olga Fedorova, Kremnev plus supporting cast

Mazurka from A Life for the Tsar: four couples

Trepak to music from Casse Noisette: Rosai

Pas Classique from Raymonda: leading couple Karalli, Mordkine

Finale to last movemen t of Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony.

This last, according to Serge Grigoriev, was Fokine's only contribution to Le Festin, though I know he is generally credited with having arranged or adapted a number of the other items. In his memoir he says:

"All that Fokine had to do was invent the finale, which was to be danced to music from Tchaikovsky's Second Symphony. Its object was to enable the whole company to appear together at the end. For some reason however, it proved difficult to arrange satisfactorily. Fokine spent much time and energy arranging and rearranging it; but it never really came off."

The choreographers Grigoriev credits are Petipa, Gorsky, Fokine, Gltz and F. Kchessinsky (Matilde's father who was famous for his Mazurka in A Life for the Tsar). When Le Festin was given in the second season it was changed somewhat and it was then, I think, that Nijinsky appeared in the Lezginka. I have a programme somewhere, but I can't put my hand on it.

Interestingly, in advance publicity Diaghilev was at pains to emphasise that the parisian audience would have a chance to see choreography by Marius Petipa who he described as "the brother of the famous Petipa". And Petipa was especially proud of his choreography for the Lezginka, which he dwells on in his memoirs. So I do wonder how much Fokine actually did to change or adapt those numbers, especially when he was so busy with the finale and with the dances from Prince Igor.

With regard to the dances from Ruslan and Ludmilla - he is generally credited with them. Certainly he claims authorship in his memoirs. However, there is one number for a group of nymphs which to my, admittedly amateur eyes, looks not like Fokine, not even like Petipa, but something still earlier. I've seen it staged and I also have it on video and I can't help wondering if its basis lies in the original staging by Antoine Titus and that various ballet masters came in, tidied it up a little, changed a detail here and there, then signed it and sent in the invoice, so to speak.

The photograph of Fokine is fascinating rg. You must have an amazing collection. But it's very different from that worn by Nijinsky. Far more bare flesh!

Share this post

Link to post

to be sure fokine's look in the photo above and that of nijinsky in the festin version of the lezginka are quite different. my suggestion of RUSLAN's lezginka for the fokine photo is only a guess. i could be convinced of some other identification, given a reasonable argument.

i have two different versions of the dance of naima's maidens on video, both w/ the kirov, one is on video, led by komleva, the other is on dvd led by an unidentified dancer. i suppose fokine might have been working from some extant staging, but i suspect he would have wanted his work to be all his own, tho' that's no more than an assumption on my part.

Share this post

Link to post

Petipa prided himself on his ability to DANCE the lezginka, if I remember right, -- probably like the way Bournonville prided himself on his tarantella.

There are millions of lezginkas to be seen on Youtube right now -- kids from hte embattled Caucasus republics -- Chechnya, Gerogia in particular -- are being filmed by proud parents and friends in outbursts of lezginka-ing on the bus, subways, in parking lots, from Moscow to Los Angeles, sometimes with gunfire in hte background and OFTEN with machine guns in evidence. there is STRONG patriotic feeling, in some; the dance is a symbol of a fighting spirit that can be flat-out warlike.

it is a THIRILLING dance, with very fast footwork and rife with macho stunts: double tours landing on hte knees, prancing knuckled over on the pointes in soft kid boots, and a magnificent posture with shoulders thrown back and arms stretched out like bird-wings, and sudden flailings of hte elbows that whip the forearm in front of the face (as in the famous photograph of Nijinsky in Festin -- if he did oiseau d'or on opening night, he was photographed doing the lezginka. THe costume Nijinsky wore is from Bakst's production of Russlan and Ludmila, which was revived by the Kirov Opera and brought to San Francisco -- we saw it here about a decade ago -- fantastic production, out of this world wonderful -- and hten the last act took all of us who know the old Nijinsky photographs into a strange kind of nostalgia, for there they were the old photographs come back to life.

here are some clips:

jewish Gorsky kids dong lezginka for Purim:

3-year-old doing lezginka on hte street: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nrlyNVLSl80...feature=related

in jeans, with a Donald O'Connor: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6mVGUvYOLoM...feature=related

with soldiers, strong patriotic sentiment, from the movie 12:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ-bCv8AVmM&feature=related

warlike chechen lezginka with helicopters and bombs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PQ-bCv8AVmM...feature=related

Moiseyev-style professional production by Erisioni company [FANTASTIC performers] in Paris: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_SX_87KefK0

Share this post

Link to post
Sign in to follow this  
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.