[title title="History of the Russian Ballet" align="center" font_size="custom-sz" custom_font_size="32px" el_class="white-color"]
The art of ballet may have originated in Italy but it soon became a central pillar of Russia cultural life. Russian ballet has greatly influenced the genre in general and exerted a special influence on British Ballet. Russian ballet started in the 1740s at the Imperial School of Ballet in St Petersburg; this later became known as the Vaganova Academy, named after distinguished Russian ballerina and teacher Agripina Vaganova. 1773 saw the opening of another school, which is known now as the Moscow Choreography College.
By the early 19th century Russian ballet had morphed into a national school. 'Flight performed by the soul' is how Alexander Pushkin described Russian ballet, whilst speaking of contemporary ballerina A.I.Istomina in Eugene Onegin. Special privilege was extended to ballet among all other theatres. The authorities paid great attention to ballet’s development and provided it with governmental grants. The Bolshoi Theatre was opened in 1825. Both Moscow and St.Petersburg ballet troupes performed in well-equipped theatres. It was Russian ballet that was destined to revive the art worldwide, mainly due to a French ballet master Marius Petipa who was to enrich the dance and start the process of romanticisation.
By the early 20th century Russian ballet was famous on the world ballet stage. Ballet master Michail Fokin, with A.A. Gorsky, renewed repertoire and the form. They created a new type of spectacle, a one-act ballet driven by continuous action, where the subject matter unfolds in the unity of music, choreography and scenography (Chopeniana, Petrushka and Shekherezada). Their spectacles were decorated by L. S. Bakst, A. N. Benua, A. Y. Golovin and N. K. Roerich and K. A. Korovin. The sensational Sergey Diaghilev arranged the first tour of the Russian ballet to Paris in 1909 and started the legendary Russian Seasons with the Ballets russes which remains until today the most significant achievment in the history of Russian ballet. The Ballet Russes introduced mesmerising dancers such as Anna Pavlova, Mikhail Fokin, Leonid Myasin, B. F. Nijinskaya, Dj. Balanchin, B. G. Romanov and S. M. Lifar. They in turn created schools and troupes in many countries of Europe and America, thus influencing the whole of world ballet. Keeping to traditional Russian repertoire, those schools also assimilated influences from their host countries.After the Russian revolution ballet remained at the centre of nationwide art. In spite of the emigration of a number of leading figures, the school of Russian ballet survived and promoted new performers. A number of new important ballet companies were created in many Russian cities and a number of soon-to-be great dancers came on stage in those years. They included Maya Plisetskaya, R.S.Struchkova, V.T.Bovt and N.B. Fadeyechev. The turning point came in the late 1950s with the appearance of a new generation of choreographers. Among these were Leningrad ballet masters Y.N. Grigorovich and I.D.Belski, who based their ballets on musical and dance dramaturgy that conveyed meaning through dance. They revived forgotten genres such as the one-act ballet, satirical ballet, ballet symphony and choreographic miniature.
The 1980s saw saw Russian companies touring abroad with increasing success. Dancers and ballet masters started working abroad, staging spectacles and even heading ballet troupes in Europe and America; these world-renowned artists included Nureyev, Makarova, Baryshnikov, Grigorovich, Vinogradov, Plisetskaya and Vasilyev. Russian ballet dancers today occupy principal positions in many foreign ballet troupes, whilst maintaining the best traditions of Russian ballet.
Russian ballet has exerted an important influence on British ballet. Both Ninette de Valois, founder of the Royal Ballet, and Alicia Markova, founder of English National Ballet, danced with Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes. Diaghilev’s dancers Anton Dolin and Tamara Karsavina were engaged by the Royal Ballet to bring Russian ballet traditions into the Royal Ballet School. British Prima Ballerina Assoluta Dame Margo Fonteyn found her ideal partner in Russian star Rudolf Nureyev, who himself was a guest principal of the Royal Ballet for a number of years. The Russian classical ballet repertoire is extensively performed by both leading British companies.