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Kirov's Bayadere -- background material

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[The folloiwng is from the company's press kit]


La Bayadère is one of the oldest ballets in the classical Russian repertoire. Its premiere at St Petersburg's Bolshoi Theatre in 1877 (ballets were staged at the Mariinsky Theatre from 1886) was a triumph for Marius Petipa, and this success has accompanied La Bayadère to the

present day. The tragic love story of Solor, a noble warrior (in thepremiere, Lev Ivanov performed the mime role of Solor, and Pavel Gerdt danced the Pas d'action in Act IV), and Nikia, a temple dancer (dancedby Yekaterina Vazem), who is poisoned by her rival, Princess Gamzatti (danced by Maria Gorshenkova) provided Petipa with the basis for this visual feast.

In 1877, the ballet was a colourful encyclopædia of knowledge about India: cool temples under a canopy of palms, majestic palace walls, fanatical fakirs flagellating themselves during sacred dances, lithe bayadères, brightly coloured veils, elephants, tigers, cobras and opium hookahs. This Indian exoticism was, however, created using conventional >ballet techniques of the 19th century.

Since its premiere, La Bayadère, has undergone many changes.

In 1884, Marius Petipa revived the ballet for Anna Iogansson, with almost no alterations.

In 1900, at the benefit performance of dancer Pavel Gerdt, soloist of >His Imperial Majesty, and specially for Mathilda Kshesinskaya, prima ballerina of the Imperial Theatres, Petipa created a new choreographic version of the ballet (Mathilda Kshesinskaya danced as Nikia, Pavel Gerdt as Solor and Olga Preobrazhenskaya as Gamzatti with Nikolai Legat dancing the entree, variation and coda in the Pas d'action in Act IV).

Academy artists Adolf Kvapp, Konstantin Ivanov, Pyotr Lambin and Orest Allegri designed new sets for the 1900 premiere. Yevgeny Ponomarev made sketches for new costumes. This was to be the last version of the ballet

created by Marius Petipa himself.

Some time between 1900 and 1903, this version of La Bayadère was recorded by Nikolai Sergeyev, Director of the Mariinsky Ballet Company using the Stepanov notation.

The first major change to La Bayadère after Petipa's death came in the latter half of the 1920's with the loss of Act IV - the final act where there was a dramatic and choreographic denouement in Petipa's original: during Gamzatti and Solor's wedding ceremony, Nikia's shadow follows

Solor, finally appearing to Gamzatti and the others present; lightning destroys the palace and everyone perishes. Retribution for the crime has been enacted. There are myriad theories explaining the loss of Act IV.

One of the most widespread is that after the Revolution the Mariinsky Theatre lacked the technical staff required to produce the stage effects. It is possible that the sets for Act IV of La Bayadère were ruined when Petrograd was flooded in 1924.

For some time, La Bayadère was performed without Act IV before disappearing from the repertoire of the Kirov (formerly Mariinsky) Theatre.

In 1941, Vladimir Ponomarev and Vakhtang Chabukiani presented a new version of the ballet, with the music and elements of the choreography

from the Pas d'action in Act IV (albeit without Nikia's shadow) moved to Act II and turned into a "wedding" Grand pas. In atheist Soviet Russia, it would have been impossible to stage a ballet, the final act of which was entitled Wrath of the Gods. Moreover, the logic of the plot had been damaged and Marius Petipa's choreography of the Pas d'action had become senseless. The future was to hold many more changes for the ballet, though it always culminated with the Grand pas classique of the Shadows. This is the state in which we inherited the ballet.


However, the legend of the full, four-act version of La Bayadère, surviving in many literary descriptions (in particular those of ballet master Fyodor Lopukhov and ballet historian Yuri Slonimsky) attracted choreographers interested in Marius Petipa's choreographic legacy. Starting in the 1980's in the west and in Russia, attempts were made to restore the full, four-act version of La Bayadère (one version by Natalia Makarova with the American Ballet Theater in 1980 in New York and another by Pyotr Gusev in 1984 in Sverdlovsk in the USSR). These attempts would always be complicated, however, by the fact that these choreographers did not have Ludwig Minkus' full score (in Natalia Makarova's version, the music of Act IV was completed by John Lanchbery) and the choreographic notation (Nikolai Sergeyev's records in the Harvard Theatre Collection were made available to Russian specialists

>only recently).


>In 2001, the Mariinsky Theatre, the "house of Petipa", decided to stage a reconstruction of the full, four-act version of La Bayadère - the oldest surviving ballet in the repertoire of Marius Petipa's works.

The aim was to return to Marius Petipa and Ludwig Minkus' original music and stage version of the 1900 production and, if possible, restore the choreography in accordance with Petipa's own last version in 1900. The aim was also to revive in full the sets and costumes of the 1900 production, which, except for a few changes and the loss of Act IV, had been retained at the Mariinsky Theatre until the present.

Reconstruction work took several directions:


Through a strange misunderstanding, Ludwig Minkus' original score for La

Bayadère was believed lost until now. The Mariinsky Theatre Music Library, however, has two volumes of Ludwig Minkus' hand-written score, as well as three manuscript repetiteurs (arrangement for two violins) with many notes for ballet masters and performers. The order of the sheet music of the original, hand-written score was changed in 1941 in accordance with Ponomarev and Chabukiani's version. All the music was first brought into line with the original, 1877 version of the score, and then all the necessary cuts made in accordance with the 1900 version. The Mariinsky Theatre is currently the only theatre in the world that has Ludwig Minkus' full, original score for La Bayadère. This score is the property of the Mariinsky Theatre.


Marius Petipa's own version of La Bayadère from 1900 formed the basis

for the reconstruction of the choreography. The sequence of the ballet is described in detail in 1900 Mariinsky Theatre playbills and

programmes, which are considered official working documents.


The restoration process of the choreographic and pantomime elements in La Bayadère was carried out using the following sources:


a) Marius Petipa and Sergei Khudekov's original text of the libretto and Petipa's staging notes for La Bayadère which are housed in the Bakhrushin Theatre Museum in Moscow with detailed notes on pantomimic monologues and dialogues. The libretto, written by Marius Petipa himself, is not merely a literary text, but also a document providing all the details required to restore the ballet's dramatic structure.


B) Régisseur (stage and rehearsal director) of the Mariinsky Ballet Company Nikolai Sergeyev's choreographic records in the Stepanov

notation, housed in the Harvard Theatre Collection. This choreographic record of the ballet contains the notation for almost all the dances in the ballet. Exceptions were the variations which belonged to individual performers (such as Nikia's "extra" variation in Act IV, which was added after the premiere in 1900 especially for Mathilda Kshesinskaya and was her property) and those variations which in 19th century ballet were performed ad libitum (Solor and Gamzatti's variations in the Pas d'action in Act IV).


c) Manuscript repetiteurs (the "régisseur's" and "kappelmeister's" copies and another copy for Mathilda Kshesinskaya), which contain a vast amount of hand-written notes detailing choreographic combinations, dancers' entrances etc., as well as a literary text on the pantomime dialogues in synchronisation with the musical text. These manuscript repetiteurs were vital documents, allowing the musical and choreographic texts to be synchronised.


During the reconstruction process, the main principle was the complete restoration of the original dramatic and choreographic structure of Marius Petipa's version. This resulted in the following:


Act I. Scene I - Ritual of Fire:


1. Petipa's original choreography of the Dance of the Priestesses has been restored (since 1941, this was performed with Vladimir Ponomarev's choreography).

2. The musical and choreographic structure of Nikia and Solor's Duet has been restored.

3. The music and the pantomime scenes, lost in the Soviet period, have been restored.


Act II. Scene II - Two Rivals:

1. The "extra" Duet of Nikia and the Slave, choreographed in 1954 by Konstantin Sergeyev for his wife Natalia Dudinskaya to music from the ballet La Esmeralda, has been removed.

2. The original, pantomimic Dialogue between Nikia and Gamzatti has

been restored.


Act II. Scene III - Death of the Bayadère:


1. The entrance of the corps de ballet for the Triumphal Procession in Honour of the Idol Badrinath has been restored using the score and repetiteurs.

2. The music and choreography of the lost Dance of the Slaves have been restored.

3. The sequence of the four bayadères' two variations has been restored.

4. The "extra" Variation of the Golden Idol, choreographed in 1948 by Nikolai Zubkovsky, has been removed.

5. The lost choreographic elements of the Indian Dance have been restored.

6. Gamzatti, Nikia, Solor and the four bayadères' Pas d'action has been moved to its original position in Act IV.

7. The choreography of the Final coda generale has been restored.

8. Nikia's Dance has been restored - in accordance with a note in Petipa's original libretto, the first part of Nikia's Dance is performed with a veena (small Indian guitar).

Act III. Scene IV - The Appearance of the Shadow:

1. The music and pantomime of the Scene with Solor, Gamzatti and Nikia's Shadow have been completely restored.


Act III. Scene V - Solor's Dream. The Kingdom of Shadows:


1. The choreography of the Grand pas classique of the shadows came to us practically unchanged. In the original in 1900, the corps de ballet of "shadows" consisted of forty-eight dancers. The tight touring budget means that the Mariinsky Theatre will be unable to stage the full corps de ballet of shadows in New York, which we have reduced to thirty-two dancers. The Mariinsky Theatre believes it to be artistically justified to maintain Solor's Entree and Coda, as choreographed by Vakhtang Chabukiani.

2. Petipa's original choreography of Nikia's Coda has been restored.


Act III. Scene VI - Solor Awakes:


This short scene was cut together with Act IV. Now it is has been completely restored.


Act IV. Scene VII - Wrath of the Gods:

This act has been completely restored using Nikolai Sergeyev's notation and director's notes in the original repetiteurs.

1. The Wedding Celebration has been restored.

2. The music and choreography of the Dance of the Lotus Blossoms for twenty-four ballet students have been restored.

3. The music and choreography of the entree, adagio and coda in the Nikia, Gamzatti, Solor and four bayadères' Pas d'action have been completely restored.

4. In the original, the music and choreography of Gamzatti and Solor's variations in the Pas d'action were to be performed ad libitum, i.e. left to the performers' choice. This was a typical practice in 19th century ballet and in classical art in general (for example, the cadenza ad libitum in the first part of piano concertos). Ludwig Minkus' hand-written score contains no variations - only the words "followed by Solor and Gamzatti's variations" are written. The choreography for these variations is, therefore, not recorded in Nikolai Sergeyev's notation. It is only known that in 1900, Nikolai Legat performed the variation to music from the ballet Le Papillon. In terms of character and technique, Vakhtang Chabukiani's choreography for Solor's variation (1941) does not match the style of a late 19th - early 20th century ballet. The Mariinsky Theatre therefore considers it appropriate to use the Male Variation from the ballet The Talisman to music by Drigo, which was choreographed by Marius Petipa. No records remain of which variation Olga Preobrazhenskaya (Gamzatti) danced. The Mariinsky Theatre considers it justifiable to retain Gamzatti's Variation, choreographed by Pyotr Gusev in 1947, which is a perfect exemplification of Petipa's choreographic stylisation.

5. The final Earthquake Scene and Apotheosis have been restored using notes in the repetiteurs.


The Mariinsky Theatre's set designs for the 1900 production of La Bayadère did not change over the course of the 20th century. The sets of the first three acts were carefully restored from the original 1900 canvases that are stored in the Mariinsky Theatre archives. The sets for the scene Solor's Dream. The Kingdom of Shadows have been restored from Pyotr Lambin's original model, which is kept in the St Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music. The sets for Act IV were restored from original sketches and photographic materials in the collection of the St Petersburg State Museum of Theatre and Music. The working mechanism of the stage scenery in the Earthquake and Destruction of the Palace scene was restored using assemblage blue prints kept in the Russian State History Archives (the Archives of the Board of Imperial Theatres). Now, at the start of the 21st century in the electronic age, this ancient machinery may seem somewhat naive and archaic, but it is precisely this scene which caused such a sensation among the audience at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1900.


The costumes for La Bayadère for the 1900 production have been restored

from original sketches by Yevgeny Ponomarev, kept in the St Petersburg

State Theatre Library. Technical descriptions of the costumes of La Bayadère, housed in the Russian State History Archives, were used in the reconstruction of the costumes from the 1900 production. Where possible when selecting fabrics, the costume restorers used those described in the archive documents. Some of these fabrics are no longer produced today and the Mariinsky Theatre's costume technicians used similar materials. The costume department strictly observed the principle of sewing by hand.


So - the original score, Nikolai Sergeyev's notation of the choreography, the original sets and costumes - all of these priceless resources have allowed the Mariinsky Theatre to restore the original, naive, archaic version of La Bayadère, which has the power to move us to this day. It demonstrates the joyful surprise and innocent delight of 19th century Europeans as they became acquainted with the vast world around them. The fate of La Bayadère was cemented by the artistic belief and great mastery with which Marius Petipa tells of India, love, cunning, retribution and the mysterious journey of the soul to the

afterlife. When the dancing shadows descend from the snow-capped Himalayan peaks wearing European ballet tutus, no-one would dream of reproaching the choreographer with conflicting ideas - we delight in the miracle occurring before our eyes.

Pavel Gershenzon

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The restored Act II 'Dance of the Slaves' must be the dance of girls in yellow saris & pagoda-like golden caps (Thai or Balinese?) that is not being shown on this tour. I saw it during the May 31 premiere in St Petes & it was lovely.

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An interesting comparison, when the Bolshoi brought its version to DC last season, they didn't have the two little girls. Whether they were left home and didn't tour, or whether this is their standard version, I don't know, but you really did miss them. The girl looked like a ditsy juggler without the distraction of those kids.

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yes the bolshoi does use the girls......I always thought that the danse manu was a great number......does anyone know if it was from the original 1877 production or the 1900 version? I was also wondering why the Kirov decided to use the male variation from "Le Talisman" in place of the traditional Solor variation, they are not all that much different.

In Makarova's version (well in all of them), there is a little allegro number before the grand pas, and then another allegro number right after the pas' central adagio.....where are these numbers now? Are they the 2 variations of bayaderes in the betrothal scene spoken of in the press kit?

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The manou dance already existed in the 1877 production (the soloist is even named in the cast list, Vera Zhukova). How much it changed in the course of time, is another matter.

The two variations of the four bayadères in the 2nd Act are indeed the ones previously seen before and after the Grand Pas. They are now performed one after the other, while the second is introduced by the same music we use to hear before the solo of the Bronze Idol (at least in the old Russian versions).

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Wow.....interesting......is the choreography stil the same? If there are bayaderes in these 2 numbers are they still in tutus? I was also wondering if the coda that was in the Soviet version of the grand pas was kept in the betrothal scene, to what music is the coda of the grand pas now in the final scene?

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The choreography of the two variations of the 4 bayadères is basically the same (there might be slight differences in floor pattern). The girls are in tutu. The main difference is the faster tempo.

The coda of the Pas d'action in the last Act is one of the marvels of this production. It's a lively enchainement involving four bayadères, Gamzatti, Solor and Nikiya. The music is completely "new".

First thing you need to do, Solor, is to get yourself a ticket for the next performance of the Kirov's Bayadère. I think you will enjoy it. :)

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Jeannie, 'the girls in yellow saris' did appear on stage last month at Theatre du Chatelet. They were in the Procession, but didn't dance at all. Considering their costumes, it seems they were an eleventh-century relief of heavenly angels at the Angkor Wat in Cambodia coming to life! Not Thai or Balinese, I think.

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Does the new/old version still include the number for the bayaderes carrying lights? And if so where? Makarova puts it in Act 1V and Nureyev in Act 111 just before the Shades scene. I can't remember where it comes in the Bolshoi/Grigorovich production or the Kirov version we've seen in London.

I'm particularly curious about this because thirty or more years ago, long before I ever saw anything from La Bayadere, I went to a charity dance recital given by the diplomatic corps in London. There were all kinds of numbers from Malaysian dances for men to a Japanese wife who did a traditional springtime solo with a giant branch of wisteria. But what I especially remember is that ladies from the then High Commission for Pakistan performed a traditional dance, largely circular in pattern, each one carrying a dish containing lighted candles in each hand. Sound familiar?

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In the old soviet version of La Bayadere there is a number before the Shades scene where a fakir charms a snake and a guy pretends to play an oboe (or whatever it supposed to be) in the background. Is this number in the new/old version? Also is it from the Petipa heritage or just another Soviet additon? If so wheres it from choreagraphically and musically?

I was also wondering, if the golden Idol music is not from the Petipa staging, whose music is it and where does it come from?

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Yes, of course you are correct Marc. I was writing from memory and it's a long time since I saw that production. So. presumably, Makarova simply expanded the dance and gave it to the bayaderes rather than to Solor's faithful follower. But I still think it's interesting that in either form it should contain such clear elements of a traditional dance from the Indian sub-continent. Shows what a tireless little researcher M. Petitpa was I guess.

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Alexandra (or anybody)-

I was wondering if you (or anyone else) had the same type of info on the Kirovs reconstruction of Sleeping Beauty similar to the press kit thing you posted about thier new/old Bayadere....sort of a number by number list like the Bayadere one. It would be cool to read about!


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