Nureyev dancing in Les Sylphides

les sylphides noureev cncs

Music : Chopin - Choreography : Mikhail Fokine - Visit the Nureyev Collection at the Centre National du Costume de Scène

Music by Chopin, orchestrated by Glazunov and Keller. Décors and story by Alexandre Benois. Created on June 2nd 1909 at the Châtelet Theatre by Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky. Shortly after his London début with Margot Fonteyn, Rudolf Nureyev danced the Poet for the first time on May 3rd 1962 with Yvette Chauviré and the Royal Ballet. In November, he danced it with Margot Fonteyn, as he did again in 1963 in London and New York. They were both filmed by British television for a colour programme entitled, “An Evening with the Royal Ballet”.

Nureyev danced this role all over the world, in particular at the Paris Opera in December 1973 with Noella Pontois in a Homage to Diaghilev (when he also danced “Petrushka” with Yvette Chauviré then with Jacqueline Rayet and “Apollon Musagète” by Balanchine), on a Canadian tour in 1973 and 74, once again with Margot Fonteyn (then Natalia Makarova and Lynn Seymour) at the London Coliseum in 1977… and for the last time on July 13th 1982 with Evelyne Desutter at the Macerata Arena (along with “Le Spectre de la Rose”).

This one-act ballet is simply a dream inspired by some of Chopin’s piano scores and it finds a Poet, dressed in a black velvet leotard with white collar and cuffs, in the middle of a flock of white creatures with butterfly wings, in a romantic, night-time setting inspired by the second acts of both “Giselle” and “La Sylphide”. The Poet dances a Nocturne with three soloists, a solo mazurka and a duo with the main etoile in a grand adagio to a waltz, before the finale which brings together the Poet and all the sylphides in the Grande Valse, opus 18.