Biography of Mikhail Mikhailovich Fokine (1880-1942)

Dancer, choreographer and ballet master Russian, born in Petersburgo on May 5, 1880 and died in New York on August 22, 1942.


He joined in 1889 in the Ballet School of the Teatro imperial Marinsky of St. Petersburg, where he graduated in 1898, and almost immediately became part of the company. Soon highlighted by his magnificent technique and expressiveness, which allowed him to ascend to soloist dancer in 1904 and Professor at the school the following year. Almost simultaneously, Fokine began his career as a teacher and choreographer, with the dream of a summer night (Mendelssohn, 1902) ballets, Acis and Galatea (Kadletz, 1905) and La Viña (Rubinstein, 1906), put in scene by his own students.

In 1905, the Ballerina Anna Pavlova commissioned a ballet for a concert in the Hall of the Nobles in St. Petersburg. Fokine created for her the death of the Swan (Saint-Saëns, 1905), one of two minutes which became the symbol of the new reform of the ballet Russian, which aims to abandon the classical formulas of Marius Petipa. Choreographed for the Ballet of the Marinsky Theatre: Le Pavillon d'Armide (Tcherepnin, 1907), Eunice (Shcherbachev, 1907), Chopiniana (Chopin, 1907), suite of dances that went into the Repertoire of the Ballets Russes of Diaghilev in 1909 as the Sylphs, a night in Egypt (Arensky, 1908), revised in 1909 as Cleopatra for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, and Carnaval (Schumann, 1910).

He was the main protagonist of the success in the West of the Russian ballet, possibly influenced by the antitecnica of Isadora Duncan, although his revolutionary style did not cause any dent in the Russian public conservative. According to him, the only raison d ' être of the technique was to serve to the expression, and music should be trusted to real composers, not simple composition professionals; only thus the ballet would attain a complete unity of expression of all its elements. Thus, when in 1909 Diaghilev invited him to join the Ballets Russes as principal choreographer Fokine accepted willingly, because I could finally implement their ideas, which rejected conventional mimicry and advocated the integration of dance, music, argument, sets and costumes in a single unit.

For this company created an important repertoire, with choreographies such as: the feast (Rimsky-Korsakov and others, 1909), performed by Petipa, Gorgsky, Goltz and Kschessinsky as dances polovtzianas of Prince Igor (Borodin, 1909), Scheherazade (Rimsky-Korsakov, 1910), the bird of fire (Stravinsky, 1910), where they danced together to Tamara Karsavina in the role of Prince Ivan, the Oriental (Grieg and Sinding, 1910), the specter of the rose (Weber1911), narcissus (Tcherepnin, 1911), Sadko, ou Royaume Sous-marin (Rimsky Korsakov, 1911), Petrushka (Stravinsky, 1911), the Blue Devil (Hahn, 1912), Tamar (Balakirev, 1912), Daphnis and Chloe (Ravel, 1912), butterflies (Schumann, 1914), the legend of José (R. Strauss, 1914), El gallo de oro (Rimsky - Korsakov, 1914) and Midas (Steinberg, 1914).

Although he continued to perform odd jobs for the Marinsky Theatre, Fokine did not return to Petersburgo until 1914, when it broke relations with Diaghilev by having been relegated to the background in favour of Vaslav Nijinsky , who began his choreographic career. He remained in Russia until 1918, producing new ballets: Eros (Tchaikovsky, 1915), Francesca da Rimini (Tchaikovsky, 1915), the apprentice of Warlock (Dukas, 1916), Jota Aragonesa (Glinka, 1916) and Ruslan and Ludmila (Glinka, 1917), among others.

In 1923, at the beginning of the Russian revolution. He settled in New York, from where traveled to Europe on several occasions to trace some of the ballets created for the Diaghilev company, as well as to put up new choreography. Among his last works were the elves (Mendelssohn, 1924), for the American Ballet, Semiramis (Honegger, 1934), for the company of Ida Rubinstein in Paris, love test (several, 1936), Don Juan (Gluck, 1936) and elements (Bach, 1937), for the Ballets de Monte-Carlo of René Blum, Cinderella (D'erlanger, 1938) and Paganini (Rachmaninoff, 1939), the Ballets Russes of the Colonel de Basil for, and Bluebeard (Offenbach and Dorati, 1941) and Lieutenant Kijé (Prokofiev, 1942), for the American Ballet Theatre.

Shortly before his death, began to assemble in New York ballet comic Helen of Troy, ended of choreograph David Lichine and premiered in Mexico on September 10, 1942. He was married to the dancer of the Marinsky Theatre Vera Fokina, and their son, Vitale Fokine, was for a long time master of ballet in New York.