The legacy of Marius Petipa is an immense, lively, colourful puzzle filled with music, painting, literature, directing work and priceless choreography of the classical ballet founder. It can be discovered and collected endlessly through the research of new archival documents, studying of choreographic notations, the restoration of lost details, moving away from simplifications and finding new content. Though the traditional performance of Petipa’s ballets and dances at the Mariinsky Theatre, “The House of Petipa”, has always been treated with great respect and even reverence, it is still important and interesting to see and experience how his legacy sounds and looks like in an interpretation by choreographer-reconstructors. This makes it possible to look more closely at it and discover new facets of the talent of the Great Marius Petipa.
Nikolai Sergeev Collection at Harvard University
The Sergeev collection includes the notations of ballets and dances from operas with music scores, programs of Mariinsky Ballet performances, synopses of ballets, photographs of dancers, costume and scene designs for ballets. The majority of the choreographic notations document with varying degrees of detail the original works and revivals of Marius Petipa.
Nikolai Grigorievich Sergeev was a dancer, choreographer, and régisseur of the Mariinsky Ballet from 1894 to 1918. He developed an interest in dance notation around 1897 when he served as an assistant to choreographer Alexander Gorskii, who was also a teacher of the theory and notation of dance at the Theatre school. Gorski had revised the system created by another Theatre school teacher, Vladimir Stepanov, in 1891. The system was used for notations of ballets from the repertory of the Mariinsky Ballet undertaken by the Directorate of the Imperial Theatres and supervised by Sergeev. He left Russia after the October revolution in 1918 and he brought the notations (33 boxes) with him to the West. He used them between 1921 and 1951 to restage Russian ballets for European companies.