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Lev Ivanov

(1834—1901)


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(b Moscow, 2 Mar. 1834; d St Petersburg, 11 Dec. 1901)

Russian dancer, ballet master, choreographer, and teacher. He studied in Moscow and then at the Imperial Theatre School, St Petersburg, making his debut with the Imperial Theatre while still a student in 1850 (he graduated in 1852). A hard-working dancer with a prodigious memory and unusual musicality, he was given leading parts from 1858 and finally promoted premier danseur in 1869, performing classical and character roles. He began teaching in 1858 at the lower school of the Imperial Theatre School, and was appointed regisseur in 1882, then second ballet master under Petipa in 1885. His first ballet was choreographed in 1885—a new version of Hertel's La Fille mal gardée—and this was followed by Tulip of Haarlem (mus. Schel, 1887) and various small pieces including the Polovtsian Dances for Borodin's opera Prince Igor (1890). (These so impressed Fokine that he incorporated them into his own later version.) In 1892 he choreographed The Nutcracker, taking over its detailed scenario from Petipa who had become ill. Though his handling of the ballet was controversial, the lyrical choreography for the Snowflakes prefigures his contribution to Swan Lake. A year later he choreographed The Magic Flute (mus. Drigo) and Cinderella (with Petipa and Cecchetti, mus. Fitinhof–Schel). In 1894 he choreographed Act II of Swan Lake for a Tchaikovsky memorial matinée and this was so successful that Petipa decided to stage the whole ballet (which had been produced in Moscow in 1877 and 1882 but then dropped). For the new 1895 version Ivanov choreographed the two lakeside acts (II and IV) which remain his greatest contribution to ballet, eloquently musical, and rich in compositional invention and dramatic imagery (though a few writers have, controversially, attempted to contest his authorship, attributing the entire ballet to Petipa). His other works included Awakening of Flora (mus. Drigo, 1894, chor. in collaboration with Petipa), Acis and Galathea (mus. A. Kadletz, 1896), The Daughter of the Mikado (mus. Vrangel, 1897), and new versions of Perrot's Marcobomba and Saint-Léon's Graziella (both 1899). He died while collaborating with P. Gerdt on Delibes's Sylvia.

Subjects: Dance.


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