Ballet "Bayadere": content, interesting facts, video, history

L. Minkus ballet "Bayadere"

The literary basis of the libretto of the ballet was immediately followed by two works - the drama of the ancient Indian poet Kalidasa called "Shakuntala" and the ballad I.V. Goethe's "God and the Bayadere." On the basis of these immortal works, choreographer of the Russian imperial troupe Marius Petipa and playwright S.N. Khudekov managed to create a beautiful story about unhappy love, which became one of the most famous in Russian ballet. The court composer of the emperor, Ludwig Minkus, voiced it with enchanting music, thereby creating his best work.



Nikiyabayadere dancer
Solornoble and brave warrior country
Gamzattidaughter of dugmanta
DugmantaRaja Golkonda
Great brahminspiritual guide, priest
Ayaslave maid gamzatti


The action of the play takes place in India in times of deep antiquity. The main characters - Indian dancer Nikiya and the brave warrior Solor are passionately in love with each other. They secretly meet in the temple and plan to escape — only then can they be together. But lovers in love are not destined to achieve such a cherished happiness: many obstacles arise on their way. This is a great brahmin, obsessed with a thirst for revenge on Nikia who rejected him, a raja who is going to pass off his daughter for Solor, and, of course, the rival of the bayadere herself - Gamzatti.

Nikiya cannot refuse his love and thus condemns herself to death: on the orders of the Rajah’s daughter, after the dance, she is presented with a basket of flowers with a snake hidden inside. The cunning plan of the rival works, and Nikiya dies from the bite of a poisonous predator. But the death of a dancer cannot be forgiven by the god Vishnu, who brings down his anger on the Indian people, in the midst of a wedding the earthquake is shaking the earth. The temple, where Solor and Gamzatti's wedding ceremony ends at that time, collapses, leaving all the participants of the feast under their ruins forever. The souls of Nikiya and Solor are finally connected to be forever together ...

Duration of performance
I ActAct IIAct III
50 min40 min 40 min

A photo:

Interesting Facts

  • For a long time it was believed that the original score of "La Bayadere" by L. Minkus in 4 acts (1900) was lost, and the ballet was staged in 3. It was only in the early 2000s that a genuine score was discovered in the archives of the Mariinsky Theater. The performance was immediately delivered in the full version. However, not all theaters have returned to the original, and therefore, if you go to the Bayadere and see it in 3 acts, do not be surprised.
  • It is not known for certain who is the author of the libretto. Many believe that S.N. Khudekov, but M. Petipa himself denied this.
  • M. Petipa was worried that at the premiere the hall would not be filled with public because of expensive tickets, for which the leadership of the St. Petersburg Bolshoi Theater had raised prices on the eve. But his fears were in vain, the premiere gathered a full house and was a great success. The audience applauded for another half an hour after the performance.
  • The ballet "La Bayadere" became a "bridge" between the epochs of romanticism and classicism in ballet. It is no coincidence that India, a distant and exotic country popular in romantic works, was chosen as the scene of action.
  • Despite the fact that in Russia, “Bayadere” was already considered a classic, the work was almost unknown to the European audience in the 20th century.
  • “Bayadere” means “an Indian dancer who performs a ritual dance,” which is precisely the name established in Europe. In India, they are called "devasi."

  • At the premiere of the performance, Petipa went to extreme measures and entrusted the main part to the Russian dancer. It should be noted that for the first time the main part in the performances was performed not by the Italian ballerina, as it was before.
  • By the time the ballet "La Bayadere" was ordered, Marius Petipa had worked in Russia for about thirty years, directing one of the best troupes in the world.
  • Legendary Anna Pavlova sang the part of Nikiya since 1902. It is believed that this role and dug the great ballerina around the world.
  • The choreographer specially introduced national dances in the performance: "Hindu dance", "Shadows" and "Dance with a snake".
  • The plot itself was borrowed from the drama of the ancient Indian poet, but it did undergo some changes. For example, researcher K. Skalkovsky noted that some moments from the ballet contradict reality. The example is that only courtesans can sing and dance, and if a woman violates these strict traditions, she is immediately punished with caste scorn.
  • To bring the ballet closer to India, director Alexander Gorsky decided to dress the shadows in a sari, a national outfit.
  • In his choreography, Petipa seemed to look into the future and anticipated the work of George Balanchine and his contemporaries, who created the plotless white ballet. We are talking about the scene "Shadows", which is often performed separately from the performance. Thus, during a tour in Paris (1956), the Kirov Theater presented the public exactly the dance "Shadows", which caused a tremendous success.

Popular numbers:

Gamzatti variation (listen)

Shadows - Adagio (listen)

Dance of Nikiya with flowers (listen)


In 1876 the attention of the main choreographer of the St. Petersburg imperial troupe Marius Petipa attracted the idea to create the ballet "Bayadere". He quickly made a rough plan for the future work. As a co-author, it was decided to invite Sergey Nikolaevich Khudekov, who was not only a professional lawyer, but also had an excellent literary talent. Sergei Nikolaevich was an excellent ballet historian and often developed plots for performances. The basis of the “Bayadere” was the drama of the poet Kalidasa, which dates from the first and sixth centuries of the Abhijnana-Shakuntala.

It is worth noting that the original source was not the ancient Indian book itself, but another ballet, Shakuntala, which was written according to the script by Gauthier, and was staged by the brother of the ballet master Marius-Lucien Petipa (1858). The musical part of the performance was created by composer Louis Etienne Ernest Reier. Why did such an unexpected interest in Indian themes suddenly appear on the European scene? The fact is that Theophile Gautier in 1839 in Paris witnessed the performances of the popular Indian troupe Bayaderas. Then he turned his close attention to accept - Amani. Since then, Gauthier mentioned it many times in his work. When Amani committed suicide after a while, Gauthier was deeply shocked and he decided to create a ballet in her memory. This performance was called "Shakuntala", which actually later used Petipa as the basis of his ballet "Bayadere".

Researcher Y. Slonimsky noted that Marius took from the original source the main character, the names of other characters, as well as some situations. But in the end, a completely different ballet turned out, and not a French version, as you might think. The choreographer was able to so organically redo all the materials, to make innovations in them, that the play became his own.

In the foreground in the ballet stands a very characteristic theme for works of that time - the pursuit of happiness, as well as love. Marius Petipa entrusted the musical part of the performance to the talented composer Ludwig Minkus. At first glance it may seem that in the music of ballet there are no bright, symbolic characteristics of the characters, revealing their individuality, it only draws the mood and acts as a kind of background. At the same time, the musical part is incredibly melodious, completely subordinated to dances and pantomime, and drama and lyrics are closely connected in it. In addition, the music very finely follows the choreography, which was very important for the choreographer.


Stages and various versions

The long-awaited premiere of the play took place on January 23, 1977 in St. Petersburg. The main role of Nikiya was performed by Catherine Vazem, who had a benefit performance on that day. The ballet conductor was A. Papkov. This production was distinguished by bright costumes of dancers, incredibly complex decorations. Antiquity and some exotic closely intertwined with the melodramatic plot of the ballet, which added brightness to the Indian motifs. However, despite this, it is impossible to name a purely Indian performance, because this is just imitation, and the ballet itself fully complies with all European characteristics. The choreography was performed at the highest level, where each movement was thought out to the smallest details, and each individual character is endowed with his own, exceptional dance, which subtly expressed his feelings, thoughts and experiences.

A few years later, the Bolshoi Theater in St. Petersburg was temporarily closed, and the whole troupe moved to the Mariinsky Theater. On the new stage, the premiere of the play took place in 1900, and M. Petipa also performed it. Due to the fact that the hall would be a little smaller, I had to adjust the score a bit and reduce the corps de ballet. So, after a small edit, it was reduced by half, to 32 participants in the painting "Shadows".

After that, in 1920, the ballet was resumed for Olga Spesivtseva, who performed the role of Nikiya. However, the unforeseen happened with this production, as a result of the flood the scenery for the fourth act suffered greatly, therefore in the fall of 1929 the Bayadere was set without a final.

In 1941 they decided to resume this performance again, only this time Vladimir Ponomarev, who was engaged in the study of classical ballet, together with the choreographer Vakhtang Chabukiani slightly modified the work of Minkus, remaking it into a three-act one. In addition, the characters also received a new vision. So, Solor acquired a dance party, although before that he was only a mimic character. And this role went to the choreographer Vakhtang Chabukiani, and after it was already performed by Semyon Kaplan.

Abroad, the public also knew very well the work of Minkus and Petipa, only the performance was not fully performed, but only a small part of The Shadow. Everything changed only in 1980, when the ballet dancer of the Kirov Theater, Natalya Makarova, dared to deliver the full version of the performance at the American Theater.

In 2002, the performance was staged in the Mariinsky Theater in the original version, with choreography by Marius Petipa, thanks to the efforts of choreographer Sergei Viharev. Practically after 102 years, the performance in its original form returned to the scene from which it began its world procession. It is worth noting that this version has undergone a certain revision, in connection with the modification of dance aesthetics.

"Bayadere"- this is a beautiful story of love, loyalty and betrayal, shrouded in Indian motifs, like fancy patterns. Each time the play asks a difficult question to the viewer - what to choose, listen to the call of the heart or the voice of reason to please the earthly laws and strict rules? Now For more than a hundred years, the public has experienced this drama with the main characters each time, watching the love story of the Indian dancer Nikiya and the noble warrior Solor.The simple and understandable plot, beautiful music, the talented work of the scriptwriter and director, are brilliant I choreographer development - these are the components through which the performance is still successfully placed on various world stages.

We are pleased to offer ballet dancers and a symphony orchestra for the performance of numbers and excerpts from the ballet "Bayadere" at your event.

Watch the video: Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy from The Nutcracker The Royal Ballet (January 2020).


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