Dying Swan

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Anna Pavlova (1881—1931) ballet dancer


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(orig. Russ. title Umirayushchy lebed; Fr. title Le Cygne)

Solo ballet in one act with choreography by Fokine and music by Saint-Saëns. Premiered at a gala on 22 Dec. 1907 at the Hall of Noblemen, St Petersburg, with Pavlova. This setting of Saint-Saëns's music from Le Carnaval des animaux was created for Pavlova. Its poignant fluttering movements not only convey the struggles of the dying bird, but also evoke the art of the ballerina, performer of an ephemeral art which ‘dies’ after every show. A film of Pavlova dancing it still survives and it remains ‘her’ ballet (she became known as the Immortal Swan). Other celebrated performances have been by Markova, Ulanova, and Plisetskaya. Les Ballets Trockadero perform a notorious comic, ‘moulting’ version and de Frutos also created his own solo to the music in 1990.

Subjects: Dance.

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