Michel Fokine


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Fokine, Michel

(mēshĕl` fōkēn`, Rus. fô`kyĭn), 1880–1942, Russian-American choreographer and ballet dancer, b. Russia. He studied at the Imperial Ballet School (1889–98) and danced at the Mariinsky Theatre, St. Petersburg. In 1905 he created Le Cygne (The Dying Swan) for Pavlova to music of Saint-Saëns. He accompanied Sergei DiaghilevDiaghilev, Sergei Pavlovich
, 1872–1929, Russian ballet impresario and art critic, grad. St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music, 1892. In 1898 he founded an influential journal, Mir Iskusstva [The World of Art].
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 to Paris in 1909 and was choreographer for his company until 1914. Fokine, considered the founder of modern ballet, based his choreography on the old system of training but eliminated rigid traditions, thus paving the way for the new freedom to come with expressionism. He emigrated in 1919 to the United States, where he formed several companies and conducted a ballet school. In 1932 he became a U.S. citizen. Among the approximately 70 ballets created by Fokine are Les Sylphides (1909), Prince Igor (1909), The Firebird (1910), Scheherazade (1910), The Spectre of the Rose (1916), and Petrouchka (1916).

Bibliography

See his memoirs (ed. by A. Chujoy, tr. 1961).

Fokine, Michel

 

Born Apr. 11 (23), 1880, in St. Petersburg; died Aug. 23, 1942, in New York. Russian ballet dancer, choreographer, and teacher.

In 1898, Fokine graduated from the St. Petersburg Theater School, where he had trained under N. G. Legat. He performed as a soloist at the Mariinskii Theater. From 1901 to 1911 he taught at the St. Petersburg Theater School; his pupils included E. P. Gerdt and L. V. Lopukhov. He made his choreographic debut in 1905. From 1909 to 1912 and again in 1914, Fokine performed with the Russian Seasons Abroad in Paris and London. Leaving Russia in 1918, he settled permanently in the United States in 1921.

Fokine sought to reform the ballet theater. He gave each of his productions a certain uniqueness, creating ballets that rested entirely on their choreography. Fokine drew upon elements of folk dance and kindred arts. Classical dance-steps were combined with free movement and new modes of expression. Fokine’s aesthetics included stylization and the reproduction of dances depicted on ancient vases and in old engravings. At the same time he always strove to relate to the contemporary audience. Each of Fokine’s ballets was psychologically meaningful, dramatically tense, and theatrically effective. Through the use of symphonic music not composed for ballet, he developed the concept of symphonic dance. He also developed the plotless ballet as an independent genre based on musical and choreographic principles. Reality in Fokine’s ballets was a bacchanalian festival disrupted by loneliness, ruined hopes, or the doom brought about by uncurbed passions.

Fokine, a graceful dancer with a light, high leap, danced principal roles in numerous classical ballets. His productions at the Mariinskii Theater included Le Pavilion d’Armide (music by Cherepnin), Une Nuit d’Egypte (music by Arend), Chopiniana (music by Chopin), and Islamei (music by Balakirev). His ballets for the Russian Seasons Abroad included Polovtsian Dances (music from Borodin’s opera Prince Igor), The Firebird (music by Stravinsky), Petrushka (music by Stravinsky), and Daphnis and Chloë (music by Ravel). For Pavlova, he choreographed The Dying Swan to the music of Saint-Saëns. Fokine was associated with the Paris Opera in 1934 and 1935 and with the Ballet Russe de Monte Carlo from 1936 to 1939. From 1923 to 1942 he headed a ballet studio in New York. Fokine wrote his memoirs and articles on ballet.

WORKS

Umiraiushchii lebed. Introductory article by G. Dobrovol’skaia. Leningrad, 1961.
Protiv techeniia, Vospominaniia baletmeistera. Stat’i, pis’ma. (Introductory article by Iu. I. Slonimski.) Leningrad-Moscow, 1962.

REFERENCES

Ivanov, I. M. Fokin. Petrograd, 1923.
Stravinsky, I. Khronika moei zhizni. Leningrad, 1962. (Translated from French.)
Krasovskaia, V. M. Russkii baletnyi teatr nachala XX veka, Leningrad, 1971.
Beaumont, C. Michel Fokine and His Ballets. London, 1935.
References in periodicals archive ?
This season also will include performances of ballets by choreographers who influenced Balanchine, notably August Bournonville, Michel Fokine and Marius Petipa.
Major choreographers of the twentieth century including George Balanchine, Leonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska, and Michel Fokine offered their choreographic visions to his troupe, which performed from 1910 through 1929 throughout western Europe.
She was a student of Michel Fokine, Eugenia Edwardrova and other famous Russian ballet teachers.
Koner was a student of the famed choreographer Michel Fokine, whose noteable works were mostly for Diaghilev's Ballet Russes.
The productions are notable for their imaginative reconstruction of what has already been greatly admired in the world and, for the first time in its history, the Royal Ballet is presenting Le Spectre de la Rose (music by Weber, original choreography by Michel Fokine, decor by Bakst) and its achievement is something to applaud.
Future tours to Liverpool may include a tribute to the choreographer Michel Fokine, with stagings of Petrouska and Les Sylphides.
Also new to New York was the solo turn by Ida Nevasayneva (Paul Ghisdin), an astonishing creature who danced a version of Anna Pavlova's "Dying Swan," with choreography "after" Michel Fokine. Rather far after, in fact, as Ida, who resembles a cross between Diana Vreeland and a bulimic flamingo, danced her way to doom with a combination of exquisite, rococo elegance and authentically birdlike awkwardness, obliviously hemorrhaging white feathers with each step.
Among the other dancers in the first company were Tamara Karsavina, Michel Fokine, and Adolf Bolm.
In 2013 Pyle unveiled her first full-length "ballez," The Firebird, a retelling of Michel Fokine's 1910 original.
In the original performance in Paris, Pierre Monteux conducted and the choreographer was the great Michel Fokine.
The former Joffrey Ballet dancer Gary Chryst was setting Michel Fokine's Petrouchka on the company.
It began with Michel Fokine's work for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes which re-defined classical ballet, culminating in the near riots which greeted the original staging in Paris of Stravinsky'sThe Rite of Spring , when theatre audiences erupted with a violence we wouldn't recognise in these experimental dog days of dance theatre, where anything goes and an eyebrow is raised but not a banner.