Mariinsky Ballet

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Mariinsky Ballet
General information
NameMariinsky Ballet
Previous names
  • Imperial Russian Ballet
  • The Soviet Ballet
  • Kirov Ballet
Year foundedApprox. 1740
Principal venueMariinsky Theatre
1 Theatre Square
St Petersburg
Artistic staff
Artistic DirectorValery Gergiev
(Mariinsky Theatre)
Deputy Director
  • Yury Fateyev
  • Tatiana Bessarabova (assistant)
Reserve Troupe DirectorAndrei Bugaev
Parent companyMariinsky Theatre
Associated schoolsVaganova Ballet Academy
  • Principal
  • First Soloist
  • Second Soloist
  • Principal Character Artist
  • Coryphee
  • Corps de Ballet
  • Reserve Troup

The Mariinsky Ballet (Russian: Балет Мариинского театра) is the resident classical ballet company of the Mariinsky Theatre in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Founded in the 18th century and originally known as the Imperial Russian Ballet, the Mariinsky Ballet is one of the world's leading ballet companies. Internationally, the Mariinsky Ballet continues to be known by its former Soviet name the Kirov Ballet. The Mariinsky Ballet is the parent company of the Vaganova Ballet Academy, a leading international ballet school.


Carlotta Brianza and Pavel Gerdt of the Imperial Ballet as Princess Aurora and Prince Desire in the 1890 premiere of the Sleeping Beauty.

The Mariinsky Ballet was founded in the 1740s, following the formation of the first Russian dance school in 1738.

The Imperial Theatre School, as it was originally known, was established on 4 May 1738, at the Winter Palace in Saint Petersburg. It would become the predecessor of today's Vaganova Ballet Academy. The school's founder director was the French ballet master and teacher Jean-Baptiste Landé and the purpose of creating the school was to train young dancers to form the first Russian ballet company. The first group of students included twelve boys and twelve girls, who later went on to form what would become the predecessor of today's Mariinsky Ballet.

Very little information exists from the formative years of the ballet company, however it is known that both the school and the ballet company were linked by name, becoming the Imperial Ballet School and Imperial Russian Ballet, names that continued to be used until the abolition of Imperial rule. In the late 18th and early 19th centuries, the Imperial Russian Ballet soon rose to prominence and would employ some of the most influential and famous names in ballet history including Charles Didelot, Marie Taglioni, Christian Johansson, Enrico Cecchetti, Jules Perrot, Fanny Cerrito, and Carlotta Grisi.

As the Imperial Russian Ballet, the company is most famous for premiering numerous ballets by the renowned choreographer Marius Petipa. He created many of his most famous works during his time as a ballet master and director of the company in the mid to late 1800s. A number of his ballets now form the basis of the traditional classical ballet repertoire, performed by ballet companies around the world, and often retaining much of Petipa's choreography. These ballets include the original productions of The Nutcracker, The Sleeping Beauty, Don Quixote, La Bayadère, and Raymonda; and popular revivals of older ballets, including Coppélia, Giselle, and Le Corsaire. Petipa's revival of the ballet Swan Lake is perhaps his most famous work for the company. Originally choreographed by Julius Reisinger for the Bolshoi Theatre in 1877, Swan Lake was initially a critical and commercial failure. Petipa sought to revive the ballet with the blessing of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, but the composer died before the new ballet was created. Petipa consequently worked with his brother Modest Tchaikovsky, who significantly revised the story and rewrote the libretto to the version now commonly performed. The production was choreographed by Petipa and his collaborator Lev Ivanov. Premiering at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1895, the Petipa/Ivanov/Tchaikovsky production of Swan Lake was a major success and is now considered the most famous ballet of all time. Nearly all subsequent productions of Swan Lake are based on this 1895 production.

Kirov Ballet logo used by Victor Hachhauser, promoting the Mariinsky Ballet in London

Following the Russian Revolution, the Soviet government decided that the ballet school and company were unwanted symbols of the tsarist regime and closed them both. The ballet company was the first to be re-established, becoming known as the Soviet Ballet, with the school re-opening later as the Leningrad State Choreographic School, both remaining in their previous locations.

After the assassination of prominent Soviet figure Sergey Kirov in 1934, the Soviet Ballet was renamed the Kirov Ballet,[1] a name which is still sometimes incorrectly used. After the end of Communist rule, the ballet company and opera company were renamed for the theatre, becoming the Mariinsky Ballet and Mariinsky Opera. Both companies are now run by the theatre itself.

Despite all these changes, the present day Mariinsky Ballet is still linked to the school, which is now the Vaganova Ballet Academy.


The Mariinsky Ballet is today recognised as one of the world's greatest ballet companies, employing over 200 dancers, including a reserve troupe and character artists. The Director of the Mariinsky Ballet is Yuri Fateyev.

Being modelled on other leading opera/ballet theatres such as the Royal Opera House, London and La Scala, Milan, the Mariinsky Ballet and Mariinsky Opera both come under the management of the Mariinsky Theatre, with Valery Gergiev as Artistic Director. Gergiev also serves as Director of the opera company. The two companies operate as separate units.



The basis of the Mariinsky Ballet consists of the following artists:[3]


First Soloists[edit]

Second Soloists[edit]

Character Soloists[edit]


Notable dancers[edit]


  1. ^ Masters, John. "Patrons gorging at Expo's culture banquet." Toronto Star, 24 May 1986. Page F.3
  2. ^ "BALLET".
  3. ^ "Soloists of the ballet company". Mariinsky Theatre. Retrieved 2017-01-02.

External links[edit]