ballet by Ludwig Minkus

About Performance

The ballet “Paquita” has never been performed in the Ballet of the Belgrade National Theatre. Our audience had the opportunity to see various versions of this otherwise well-known academic ballet when famous foreign ballet ensembles gave guest performances. That is why certain facts about this ballet that had its first performance in 1846 in Paris, are important.
Composer Ludwig Minkus (1827-1917) born in Vienna, was the official emperor composer in Tsarist Russia. Since 1861 he was engaged as a conductor at the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow, and in 1872 he became the ballet composer in the Imperial Theatre in Sankt Peterburg. He never became as famous as Tchaikovsky or Prokofiev, but his work is solid and his ballets have very harmonious form.
Choreographer of Minkus’ Paquita is Marius Petipa (1827-1910), born in Marseille, one of the most important founders of Russian ballet academic art. For many years he worked in the Imperial Theatre in Sankt Peterburg.
The premiere of Paquita was in 1846 in Paris, and only the first act has been performed ever since, while the second act has sunk into oblivion. It is a love story taking place during French-Spanish war, in which a French officer falls in love with a beautiful Gypsy girl. However, it turns out that she is of a noble family, baroness as a matter of fact and so nothing stands in the way of their happiness. Second act is a glamorous festivity in honour of their wedding with divertissement inspired by popular Spanish folk dances, Polish mazurkas and Russian folk dances. That was the opportunity to stage variations, duets and collective dances not as a formal sequence of classical ballet dances without any theatrical form, but to pay special attention to the choreographic structure of this ballet. Respecting the original Petipa’s staging, kept in the archives of Sankt Peterburg, our guests, Ljubinka and Petar Dobrijević, think of Paquita as one of the most modern ballets with academic technique. They say:” It is a challenge for us to stage Paquita for the Belgrade ballet as an exercise with a style in which a pure dance of an academic style was brought to its climax”.

LUDWIG MINKUS (1826–1917)
Ludwig (Leon) Minkus, ballet composer and a violinist, was born in Vienna in 1826. He presented himself to the wider public in 1846 in Paris with Paquita, which he composed together with Edward Deldevez in collaboration with the choreographer Joseph Mazilier. As a result of his collaboration with choreographer Saint-Leon we have ballets La Fiammetta, (1846), and Nemea (1864). Then he worked with the French composer Delibes on the ballet La Source and composed music for the next two ballets with Saint-Leon: Le Poisson d’Or  and Le Lys.
He went to Russia in 1853 as a conductor of Prince Youssupov’s orchestra in Sankt Peterburg. As a soloist in the orchestra of the Bolshoi Theatre he played from 1861-1872. He also  taught at the Conservatory in Moscow from 1866-1872.
 From 1864-1871 he was the official composer of the ballet of the Bolshoi Theatre in Moscow. He returned to Sankt Peterburg in 1871 and worked there till 1891 when he was retired. Dissatisfied with his small income he left Russia and went to Austria where he died in 1917 at the age of 91.
He composed more than 20 ballets among which are: Don Quixote, Paquita, La Bayadere, Roxanna, Camargo, Bandits, Papillons and  others. Minkus was a master of his trade well acquainted with the different styles of ballet music of that time. His music is melodious and pleasing.

MARIUS PETIPA (1818–1910)
Marius Petipa is one of the best known personalities of the ballet art of all times. He is the author of the classical ballet academism, a ballet style which delights audience and ballet artists with its strict, yet beautiful and virtuosic forms.
Marius Petipa was born in Marseilles, in 1819. in an artistic family. Father Jean Antoine was a dancer and ballet master, and his mother, Victorina Gasso, an actress. His older brother Lucien was the leading dancer at the Great Opera in Paris and later, a well-known ballet master.
Petipa started his career as a dancer, first in France, then Spain, and in 1847 he came to Russia where he stayed till his death, in 1910. At the stage of the Marynski Theatre in St.Peterburg he worked for 56 years, first as a dancer and then as a choreographer. He staged forty six original ballets, synthesizing the achievements of the ballet art of the 19th century, which he enriched with extraordinary creative imagination. His most famous ballets are: Don Quixote(1869) and La Bayadere  by Ludwig Minkus, than The Sleeping Beauty (1890) and Swan Lake (1895) by P.I.Tchaikovsky, in collaboration with Lev Ivanov, and Reymonda by A.K.Glazounov. Petipa took part in creating the ballet The Nutcracker by Tchaikovsky and Ivanov, for which he wrote libretto based on a well-known Hoffmann’s tale.
In the first season in Sankt Peterburg, in 1847, Petipa staged his version of the ballet Paquita (the world premiere was a year before in Paris), and in 1881 he created practically the entire new choreography and within it very popular and gladly performed “Grand pas classique” to the music of Ludwig Minkus. Melodiousness and rhythm of the music enabled Petipa to create almost faultless choreography – an example of extremely imaginative course of choreographer’s ideas, directed at pointing out brilliant  virtuosity of classical ballet academism. The basic characteristics of this style of artistic dancing are strictness and precision of dance forms, elaborate system of movements, both beautiful and effective, where everything is determined and appropriate. The aim of that system of movements is to enable a body of a performer- through tough and disciplined practicing- to be shapely built and plastic and to become the first-rate instrument which will be used by a dancer and a choreographer to express fairytale-like ballet contents.
Historians of artistic dance think that the action of the best Petipa’s ballets is well thought of, clear and whole, that his imagination is inexhaustible, and that his means of expression are strictly selected and deliberate. Even the superficial insight into his stagings which are kept till today, brings us to the conclusion that the soloists’ sections and great classical duets are the most precious legacy that Petipa left for future generations of ballet artists. The fact is that the classical ballet is considered to be the basis of the versatile dancing education, and that the most valuable classical ballets and parts of them represent the framework of the repertoire of ballet companies throughout the world. Spectators, of course depending on the technical abilities of dancers, are always looking forward to watching them. It is clear that creative opus of Marius Petipa is of utmost importance in that.


Premiere performance

Premiere, February 9, 2005 / Main Stage

Choreography Ljubinka And Petar Dobrijević
Conductor Miodrag Janoski
Orchestration And Adaptation Wolfgang Heinzel
Music Ludwig Minkus
Choreography Ljubinka And Petar Dobrijević
After M.Petipa
Sets Nevenka Vidak
Costumes Olga Mrđenović

Dance scenes