Choose Between Two Options
- $39 for Five Dance Classes for Adults or Children ($100 value)
- $59 for Ten Dance Classes for Adults or Children ($180 value)
Russian Ballet: An Artistic Revolution
About a century ago, Russian dancers changed the face of ballet forever. To learn how, check out Groupon’s introduction to the style.
In a haze of white feathers, Ballets Russes dancer Anna Pavlova glided across the stage via tiny, tremulous steps while her arm movements became ever more sweeping before they pulled her to the ground. As the figure in The Dying Swan sank, early 20th century audiences rose in rapture at the power of this new style of dance. Whereas French and Italian corps had become known for picture-perfect ballerinas executing tightly wound en pointe choreography, the Russian companies appearing on the scene emphasized pure emotional expression. Fluid motions and stunningly athletic leaps, often with little visible preparation, carried solo dancers into the spotlight to develop dramatic character portraits. Their surroundings were often equally vivid: choreographers worked closely with artists to create nature-inspired costumes and stage paintings of almost hallucinogenic intensity, matching dramatic music by Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky.
“English audiences, like children presented with a new toy, first shyly wondered at the novelty of the agile strangers, and then fell into transports of enthusiasm,” Dame Ellen Terry wrote in 1913 of the Ballets Russes’ debut. As the Ballets Russes and then other companies began to travel Western Europe and the United States, they inspired theatergoers and many artists—including Marcel Proust, who used Russian ballet to add an exotic, modernistic edge to the refined milieu in In Search of Lost Time. Though their performances are no longer shocking, several of the seminal companies still enrapture the senses with grand productions at home and on tour, including the Bolshoi Ballet, founded in 1776. The tradition has deeply informed American ballet companies as well, among them the New York City Ballet founded by Ballets Russes alumnus George Balanchine; indeed, it would be difficult today to find a major company not shaped by the innovations of the Russian ballet.