Russian dance company based at the Mikhailovsky Theatre in St Petersburg. The theatre itself dates back to 1833, but was renamed in 1915 as the Maly (Small). The ballet company was formed in 1933, with F. Lopukhov as director and made its debut on 6 Jun. with his ballet Harlequinade. Despite taking second place to the Kirov in St Petersburg, the Maly Ballet forged its own distinctive artistic identity, placing an emphasis on comedy and symphonic dance. One of its most controversial early productions was Lopukhov's The Bright Stream, a ballet set to the music of Shostakovich that proved very popular with the public but subsequently displeased the Soviet authorities who accused the ballet and its choreographer of formalism. Lopukhov had to leave Leningrad but returned during the Second World War as the Maly's temporary director. During his absence Leonid Lavrovsky, was ballet director from 1936 to 1938, staging Fadetta (Delibes's Sylvia, 1936), La Fille mal gardée (1937), and Asafiev's Prisoner of the Caucasus (1938) for the company. Boris Fenster, one of Lopukhov's pupils, was director from 1945 to 1965 and created several works for the Maly including An Imaginary Fiancé (1946) and Youth (1949). A seminal production during this period was Gusev's reconstruction of Petipa's Le Corsaire which led to further revivals of ballets, like Swan Lake (1958) and Giselle (1973), which similarly attempted to restore the classics to their pre-Soviet state. Igor Belsky, who was chief choreographer from 1962 to 1973, undertook new productions of The Humpbacked Horse and Nutcracker, as well as choreographing the first versions of Shostakovich's Eleventh Symphony (1966) and Tchernov's Gadfly (1967). Oleg Vinogradov was chief choreographer of the Maly (1973–7) and made one of his important early ballets there, Yaroslavna (mus. Tishenko, 1974). While then moving on to the Kirov and being succeeded by Nikolai Boyarchikov, Vinogradov continued to retain links with the company and his recent creations for it include Romeo and Juliet (2008). In 1989 the Maly Theatre was renamed the Mussorgsky Theatre of Opera and Ballet but in 2007 reverted to its original name of Mikhailovksy. The same year Farukh Ruzimatov was appointed artistic director succeeded in 2009 by Mikhail Messerer.