Val’berkh, Ivan Ivanovich
Born July 3 (14), 1766, in Moscow; died July 4 (16), 1819, in St. Petersburg. Russian ballet dancer, choreographer, and teacher.
Upon graduating from the St. Petersburg Theatrical School in 1786, Val’berkh was accepted as a soloist with the court ballet troupe. His roles included Jason in Rodolphe’s Medea and Jason and Ivan in Paris’ The Russians in Germany, or The Consequences of Love for the Fatherland. Val’berkh was the first Russian choreographer; in 1795 he staged the ballets Happy Penitence. Subsequently he produced approximately 40 new ballets. He was the first in Russia to attempt the production of a ballet on a contemporary theme (Titov’s New Werther, 1799). Val’berkh’s productions were filled with action; of a dance-pantomime nature, they affirmed the instructive importance of the art of ballet. Val’berkh was the first to create a ballet based on a Shakespearean tragedy (Steibelt’s Romeo and Juliet, 1809). A special place in Val’berkh’s creative work was occupied by ballets on Russian themes, as well as by divertissements reflecting the patriotic moods of the period of the Patriotic War of 1812 (Cavos’ Love for the Fatherland, 1812, and others). He taught at the St. Petersburg Theatrical School between 1794 and 1801.