Michel Fokine

(redirected from Mikhail Fokine)

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).


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.


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.


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 ?
Based on touching music by Frederic Chopin with a suite of piano pieces orchestrated by Alexander Glazunov, choreography by Mikhail Fokine, and sets and costumes by Elena and Sergei Radchenko, this great ballet will carry the audience on the waves of gorgeous themes, moods and feelings.
5/1-2 The Sarasota Ballet pays tribute to the Ballets Busses and its star, Vaslav Nijinsky, with company premieres of L'Apres-midi d'un Faune (choreographed by Nijinsky himself) and Petrushka (choreography by Mikhail Fokine).
The programme was "Homage to Fokine", Mariinsky Ballet's tribute to the great Russian choreographer Mikhail Fokine (1880-1942), whose work thrust the company onto the world stage.
The evening is based on the legendary 1910 Scheherazade that thrilled audiences with the music of Rimsky-Korsakov, exotic costumes by Leon Bakst and choreography by Mikhail Fokine.
The school, which was founded in the 18th century, has long been at the centre of dance in Russia and its former tutors include choreographers Marius Petipa and Mikhail Fokine.
Diaghilev has been quoted as saying in the late 19th century, "Europe needs our youth and our spontaneity; we must show our all." He hired Mikhail Fokine of the Imperial Theatre School to choreograph Nijinsky, at that time Diaghilev's protege and lover.
Sean Levey carried out the pacemaking role on Mikhail Fokine. Yeats was soon in second place, with the rest of the pack many lengths adrift.
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Things hotted up for the finale - The Firebird (music Igor Stravinsky; choreography Mikhail Fokine) which started slowly but built up to a wonderful climax.
Finally came Stravinsky's Firebird choreographed by Russian reformist Mikhail Fokine and designed into a lavish, bizarre dream of enchanted forests, warped masks and golden cities by Natalia Goncharova.
Seamus Heffernan, who was looking for his third Classic victory of the season, was happy to settle his mount in third in the early stages as stablemates Mikhail Fokine and New Zealand set a strong early pace.
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