Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Lev Ivanov and George Balanchine

The ballet Swan Lake was choreographed by two different choreographers. It was originally choreographed by Lev Ivanov and later on for the New York City Ballet by George Balanchine.

Lev Ivanovich Ivanov born in 1834 and died in 1901 was a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer, later on in life he became the Second Balletmaster of the Imperial Ballet. Balletmaster is the term used for an employee of a ballet company who is responsible for the level of competence of the dancers in their company. For those of my readers who have seen The Nutcracker Ivanov is credited for choreographing this ballet in 1892. Some accounts give Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as choreographing this ballet but he wrote the music.

With help from Marius Petipa, another famous dance choreographer, we will possibly read about him at a later date. Tchaikovsky, who wrote the music for many of the famous ballets that we know today, came before most of the cheorgraphy and Swan Lake is one of these, according to a dance history website.

In 1895, the Swan Lake that we know today came to be, this was two years after Tchaikovsky's death. The first production was put on in St. Petersburg, Russia and Pepita was given full credit for this work.

Then in 1951 George Balanchine came along and re-staged this piece for the New York City Ballet. George Balanchine was the co-founder and balletmaster of the NYC Ballet. His premiere took place Thursday, November 20th, 1951, at the City Center of Music and Drama in New York.

George Balanchine was born on January 22, 1904 to April 30, 1983 as Giorgi Balanchinvadze in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Balanchine was one of the 20th century's foremost choreographers, a pioneer of ballet in the United States. He created modern ballet, based on his deep knowledge of classical forms and techniques. He was a choreographer known for his musicality; he did not illustrate music but expressed it in dance and worked extensively with Igor Stravinsky. Thirty-nine of his 400 ballets were choreographed to music by Stravinsky.

This video is the pas de duex (is a duet in which ballet dancers perform the dance together) featuring the White Swan.


  1. Very nice post. Keep up the good work!

  2. This is such an interesting blog, reading more about the choreographers behind Swan Lake.

  3. This is a seriously history-packed post! Well done! Love the pictures, video, and links! Great use of your blog resources. I don't link enough; I probably should try to link more often.