Jump to content
This Site Uses Cookies. If You Want to Disable Cookies, Please See Your Browser Documentation. ×

Recommended Posts

This thread is planned to be about 42 ballets, with links to one or more excerpts from each ballet and in the case of some short ballets the entire performance, what city and in what year the ballet premiered, a brief statement referring to the ballet, my best guess as to what inspired the ballet and where the ballet is set.  It’s planned that the ballets will be listed in chronological order.  Kindly correct me if you feel I made any errors or if you disagree with me.  I have left out some ballets for my own reasons, so feel free to add in those ballets if you want to.  Starting with 6 ballets, the rest to come in future posts.

1 Fille mal gardee, 4 mins, Bordeaux, France 1789, Earliest ballet still in production, originally entitled: Le ballet de la paille, ou Il n'est qu'un pas du mal au bien (The Ballet of Straw, or There is Only One Step from Bad to Good).

Inspired by Pierre-Antoine Baudouin's 1765 painting, La réprimande/Une jeune fille querellée par sa mère (Reprimand/A young girl quarreled by her mother), see image below.  There is a young boy escaping behind the door to the right.  

Setting French Countryside



2 Flore et Zephyr 6 mins, London, 1796 A pre-romantic ballet.

Inspired: by the Greco-Roman Myth of Flore and Zephyr

Setting: Mount Olympus

3 La Sylphide, 2 mins Paris, 1832, First full length romantic ballet.

Inspired: by Charles Nodier's “Trilby, ou Le Lutin d'Argail” (Trilby, or The Leprechaun of Argail), although the sex of the protagonists are reversed.

Setting: Scotland


4 Giselle, ou les Wilis, 3 mins, Paris 1841, Saddest ballet.

Inspired: by a Slovic Legend of the Wilis (most likely Vili) described in Heinrich Heine’s L’Allemagne as "young brides-to-be who die before their wedding day.”  Because of their love for dancing they rise out of their graves at midnight and any young man who comes across them dances until he dies.

Setting: in the Rhineland or Silesia


5 Grand Pas de Quatre  5 mins, London 1845, homage to four ballerinas.

Inspired: by the four celebrated ballerinas, Lucile Grahn, Carlotta Grisi, Fanny Cerrito, and Marie Taglioni. 

Setting: a London stage


6 Paquita, Paris, 1846, as a name Paquita means free

Inspired: by the Novel La Gitanilla: A novella by Miguel de Cervantes about a teenage girl from an upper-class family who is kidnapped as an infant, Setting: Spain during occupation by Napoleon's Army

Mazurka by children 4 mins

Yulia Makhalina 2 mins

Larissa Lezhnina 1 mins

Link to comment

It seems like you are putting together quite a data-base for yourself that you are sharing here--I know the question of choreographer is tricky when we are looking at modern productions, but if you develop this here or elsewhere just for yourself or for some other project, it would be great to add the names of the original choreographers alongside the dates of the premiers. (Obviously the videos will mostly be from later productions.)  I think the importance of the choreographer to the art can hardly be overstated.

Link to comment

Drew, the information in this thread has been put together over some years.  It consists of ballets and information I am interested in.  At this point I am not interested in male choreographers as there are so many, but I am interested in female choreographers and will be mentioning them as I get to their works.  Of course anyone could make a list of choreographers as well as I could.  Many choreographers have produced multiple ballets so it may be easier to list the choreographers and then the ballets they worked on.  Thank you for your reply.

Link to comment

Here are four more ballets:


7 Le Corsaire, Paris, 1856, good/bad guys save damsels in distress from bad/bad guys.  Great music and dancing, bad story.

Inspired by Byron’s 1814 Poem The Corsair, 

Setting Eastern Mediterranean

La petite corsaire 2 mins À l’abordage!

Madora and Ali 8 mins

Odalisques 8 mins

Jardin Animé 13 mins


I just found another ballet, that I want to add to this list and that is:


8 Le Papillon, 9 mins, Paris, 1860, choreographed by Marie Taglioni,

Inspired by Marie’s protégée the ballerina Emma Livry.

Setting: Circassia, in the Caucasus just east of the Black Sea.


9 La Fille du Pharaon, underwater scene 4 mins, St Petersburg, 1862,  An Egyptian Night’s Dream, 

Inspired by the novel Le Roman de la momie (The Mummy Novel)

Setting Ancient Egypt.


10 Diana and Actaeon, 11 mins, St Petersburg, 1868 Actually Selene and Endymion  Began as the divertissement “Pas de Diane” from the ballet “Le Roi Candaule” originally it was a Pas de trois for Diane, Endymion and a satyr.  “The version of the Pas de Diane widely known today was choreographed by Agrippina Vaganova in 1935 when she staged a new production of La Esmeralda . . .”  From The Marius Petipa Society.

Inspired by the myth of Selene the Greek goddess of the moon and her lover Endymion.

Setting ancient Greece on a moonlit night.   

Link to comment

Eleven and twelve

11 Don Quixote, Moscow, 1869, Great music, Great Dancing and my favorite ballet Story.  A Romantic Comedy.  One of my three favorite long ballets.  In particular I like the 2006 Mariinsky production with Olesya Novikova as Kitri and Leonid Sarafanov as Basilio.  They are married with four children.  The costumes in this production are particularly colorful and most of the characters seem like they are real friends.

Inspired by Miguel de Cervantes’ novel “Don Quixote” primarily chapter 21 of the second volume.  

Setting Spain.

Kiki Castanets 1 min

Don Quixote’s Dream 13 mins

Wedding and Finale 14 mins


12 Coppélia, or the girl with enamel eyes, 8 mins Paris, 1870, Swanilda shouldn’t marry Franz. During the premiere the male role of Franz was portrayed by the female dancer Eugénie Fiocre en travesti.

Inspired partly by E.T.A. Hoffmanns “Der Sandmann,”

Setting Galicia, in Eastern Europe on the border of Poland and Ukraine.

Link to comment

Now we’re moving into the Russian era

13 Dance of the Hours, 11 mins, Milan 1876 Without the hippos

Inspired by the Hours of the Day, 

Setting Venice, Italy


14 La Bayadere, St Petersburg, 1877, Tragedy in India

Inspired by European stereotypes of India. 

Setting Ancient India

The Bronze Idol 2 mins

Entrance of the Shades 10 mins, very beautiful


15 Swan Lake, Moscow, 1877, “The best-laid plans of mice and men often go awry,” Robert Burns (1785).  Originally (1877) the swans were swan maidens who could change from human form to swan form at will.  The problem was that Odette's evil stepmother wanted to kill her.  I like the first half very much.  It is one of my three favorite long ballets.  Tchaikovsky’s music is just terrific in all of his ballets.  The music fits the action so well.

Inspired mainly by the story The Stolen Veil (1784).  Also it is reported by family members that in 1871 the composer produced a children’s one-act short ballet called the “Lake of the Swans” for his nieces and nephews. Setting: of the Stolen Veil, Eastern Germany (Electorate of Saxony) 

Three Friends 9 mins

Four Petit Swans 2 mins

Swans take Flight and Finale 7 mins, Exhilarating

Link to comment

16 Excelsior, Galop, 3 mins, Milan, 1881, Onward and Upward.

Inspired by the Fréjus Rail Tunnel and other technological achievements.

Settings International.


17 The Fairy Doll, 2 mins, Vienna, 1888, What would Barbie say?

Inspired by dancing dolls in ballet and other stories

Setting a toy store at night


18 The Sleeping Beauty,  St Petersburg, 1890, Good wins over evil even if it takes 100 years.

Inspired by “The Sleeping Beauty in the Woods” by Perrault without the evil mother-in-law part

Setting France

Lilac Fairy 2 mins, the heroine of the story

Garland Waltz 6 mins, Disney liked the melody

Rose Adagio 9 mins, Aurora rejects four suitors

Four Jewels 4 mins, more fairies

BlueBird and Princess Florine 8 mins, fairy tale by Madame d’Aulnoy 1697.

Link to comment

19 The Nutcracker, St Petersburg, 1892, A Beauty and the Beast story.  The third of my three favorite long ballets.

Inspiration: E.T.A. Hoffmann’s “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”

Setting: Nuremberg, Germany.  

Dance of the Snowflakes 7 mins, the vocalization makes it special.

Coffee, Arabian Dance 3 mins, from a Georgian Lullaby

Waltz of the Flowers 8 mins

Pas de Deux 6 mins, beautiful and romantic

Sugar Plum Fairy 4 mins, The celesta provides the magical sound


Bonus: Sugar Rum Cherry 4 mins, 1960, by Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn

Inspiration: Sugar Plum Fairy

Setting: Sugar Hill, Manhattan


20 The Awakening of Flora, 3 mins, St Petersburg, 1894, Chloris becomes Flora.  

Inspired by Greco-Roman Myths

Setting: Mount Olympus

Link to comment

21 Harlequinade, 1 min, St Petersburg, 1900, While the Cat’s Away the Mice Will Play. 

Inspired by Commedia dell’arte

Setting: Italy


22 The Dying Swan, 4 mins. St Petersburg, 1907, A short gem of a Ballet

Inspired by Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Dying Swan”

Setting: a grassy, wild and bare plain, through which a river runs.


Now we move to the Russians out of Russia period


23 Les Sylphides or Chopiniana, 8 mins, Paris, 1909, Who do you think I ran into while walking in the woods?  Homage to ballet blanc.

Possibly inspired by La Sylphid or by Fredric Choplin’s life

Setting: A wooded area at night


24 Scheherazade, 12 mins, Paris, 1910, The most erotic ballet.  The female and male dancers exhibit similar feelings - they are both enjoying themselves.  They are also dressed similarly so they show the same amount of skin.  The female dancer, Zobeide, eagerly obtains the key to the Golden Slave’s room and eagerly opens the door.

Inspired by the origin story for 1001 Arabian nights

Setting: a harem in an ancient mid-eastern country


25 The Firebird, 8 mins, Paris, 1910, Great Music, great beginning, then so so dancing

Inspired by Russian Folktales, particularly Ivan Tsarevich and the Gray Wolf and The death of Koschei the deathless

Setting: Medieval Russia 

Link to comment
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.
  • Create New...