Lev Ivanov

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This article is about the choreographer. For Russian football manager, see Lev Ivanov (football manager).
Lev Ivanov
Lev Ivanov -St. Petersburg -circa 1885.JPG
Lev Ivanov 1885
Native name Лев Ива́нович Ива́нов
Born Lev Ivanovich Ivanov
(1834-03-02)2 March 1834
Moscow, Russian Empire
Died 24 December 1901(1901-12-24) (aged 67)
Saint Petersburg, Russian Empire
Nationality Russian
Occupation Ballet dancer, choreographer, and ballet master
Years active 1866 until 1901
Known for Ballet master of the Imperial Ballet
Dance of the little swans from Swan Lake
The Nutcracker
Relatives Tio Adamova

Lev Ivanovich Ivanov (Russian: Лев Ива́нович Ива́нов; 2 March 1834, Moscow – 24 December 1901, Saint Petersburg) was a Russian ballet dancer and choreographer and later, Second Balletmaster of the Imperial Ballet. As a performer with the Imperial Ballet, he achieved prominence after performing as an understudy in a benefit performance of La Fille Mal Gardée. He is most famous as the choreographer of Dance of the Little Swans from Swan Lake, Act II of Cinderella, and The Nutcracker, which he choreographed alongside Marius Petipa.


Ivanov entered the Moscow School of Dance, but in 1844 moved to Saint Petersburg where he studied at the Imperial Ballet, becoming an official member of the Corps de ballet in 1852. Among his teachers during this time were Jean-Antoine Petipa, Alexandr Pimenov, Pierre Frédéric Malavergne and Emile Gredlu (Эмиль Гредлю).

Historically, Ivanov is credited with choreographing the entirety of premiere of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's ballet The Nutcracker in 1892 due to the ill health of the ballet master, Marius Petipa. While some contemporary and modern accounts dispute this, Ivanov is still mentioned in The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Second Edition with choreographing at least the majority of the ballet as Petipa had reportedly not progressed very far in his work.[1] Regardless of the amount of work he actually did, Pepita's was the only name listed for choreography on posters for the first production in St. Petersburg.[1]

Ivanov worked with Petipa on a new restaging of Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake ballet in 1895. Ivanov choreographed the entirety of the lakeside acts, Act II and Act IV. This includes the Dance of the Little Swans, an iconic pas de quatre where the four cygnets huddle together and dance in unison, before breaking the chain and falling to the floor whilst attempting to fly. Ivanov also choreographed the Danse Vénitienne (Neapolitan/Venetian Dance) and the Pas Hongrois (Hungarian Dance) of the third bier scene.[2]

In his last years Ivanov was in financial straits. On the strength of his 50 years' service he petitioned the Imperial Theatres for financial assistance.[2]

Ballets of Lev Ivanov[edit]

Original works[edit]

  • La Forêt enchantée (en. The Enchanted Forest). Ballet-fantastique in one act. Music by Riccardo Drigo. Imperial Ballet School, 5 April [O.S. 24 March] 1887. Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, 15 May [O.S. 3 May] 1887.
    • revival by Marius Petipa. Peterhof, July 1889.
  • La Flûte magique (en. The Magic Flute). Ballet-comique in one act. Music by Riccardo Drigo. Imperial Ballet School, 22 March [O.S. 10 March] 1889. Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, 23 April [O.S. 11 April] 1889.
  • La Fête des bateliers (en. The Boatman's Festival). Divertissement-ballet in one act. Music by Alexander Friedman. Krasnoe Selo, 7 August [O.S. 26 July] 1890.
  • Swan Lake. Ballet-fantastique in three acts. Staged jointly with Marius Petipa. Music by Pyotr Illyich Tchaikovsky, revised by Riccardo Drigo. Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, 27 January [O.S. 15 January] 1895.
  • Acis et Galatée (en. Acis and Galatea). Ballet-mythologique in one act. Music by Andrei Kadlets. Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, 2 February [O.S. 21 January] 1896.
    • revival by Alexander Shirayev. Imperial Ballet School, 3 May [O.S. 20 April] 1905.
  • Sylvia. Ballet-mythologique in three acts. Music by Léo Delibes. Staging completed by Pavel Gerdt due to Ivanov's final illness and death. Imperial Mariinsky Theatre, 15 December [O.S. 2 December] 1901.


  • Goodwin, Noël, ed. Stanley Sadie, "Ballet (2. 19th Century)," The New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, Second Edition. (London: MacMilian, 2001), 29 vols. ISBN 0-333-60800-3.


  1. ^ a b Goodwin, New Grove (2001), 2:853.
  2. ^ a b Goodwin, New Grove (2001), 2:584.

External links[edit]