Many famous ballet dancers gravitate to choreography as a result of years of performing ballets in their originally choreographic version. For example, the ballets, Les Sylphides Swan Lake, Coppelia, Nutcracker Suite and L'Oiseau de Feu (The Firebird) all followed the original choreography for many generations of ballet performances. Over time, the choreography tended to be predictable. Thus, as famous ballet dancers like Alicia Alonso, Mikhail Baryshnikov and George Balanchine left their dance careers behind, their natural inclination was to re-create choreography for world famous ballets.
6 Most Famous Classical Ballet Choreographers
Among the most famous classical ballet choreographers, five former male ballet dancers and one female dancer are recognized for their contributions to the choreography of classic and modern ballets:
Mikhail Fokin (Michel Fokine) was born in 1880 in St. Petersburg, Russia. He studied at the famous Imperial Ballet School which later became the Vaganova Ballet Academy. His first formal choreography was created for Sergei Diaghilev for the Ballet Russe in 1909 for Scheherazade. He later choreographed Le Spectre de la Rose, Les Sylphides, The Firebird and Chopiniana.
Marius Petipa has the distinction of being the most influential choreographer and ballet master in history. He was born in 1818 in Marseille, France. He entertained a long ballet career with the Imperial Ballet, a precursor of the more recent Kirov and Mariinsky Ballet. He is credited with creating more than 50 ballets to include Raymonda, Harlequinade, Nutcracker Suite and The Sleeping Beauty. He also reworked choreography for Swan Lake, Giselle and Coppelia. As a pedagogue, Petipa's choreography was viewed as exceptionally precise in timing and movement.
Sergei Diaghilev is often referred to as the "Father of Classical Ballet" for many reasons. He was a ballet dancer, choreographer, ballet impresario, patron and critic. The emphasis of his choreography was focused as much as dance technique as dance staging. This is exhibited best in his choreography of "The Sleeping Beauty" ballet in 1921. He favored the choreography of the famous Nijinsky over Mikhail Fokin and Marius Petipa.
As the 20th century's most prominent ballet choreographer, George Ballanchine born in 1904 in Saint Petersburg, Russia, his works are still performed today by the New York City Ballet. Ballanchine is known the world over for his ability to use music in ballet as a form of dance expression in the reworking of "The Nutcracker Suite".
Peter Martins added the modern nuance to classical ballet choreography in his works, "Barbie in the Nutcracker" and "Barbie of Swan Lake." He also reworked Swan Lake, The Sleeping Beauty and Romeo and Juliet.
Twyla Tharp, born in 1941 in Portland, Indiana, is a choreographer who has contributed a modern influence on classical ballet. Her most famous work "Movin' Out" shows ballet steps and technique in contemporary dance patterns.
While they may be remembered for their outstanding ability to innovate and modify classical choreography, their inspiration to other young choreographers allows classical ballet to remain an art form for the future.