К. Sergeyev's Revivals of Petipa
Ideas, developed by M. Petipa in his productions, have inspired the works of other choreographers. They strive to assimilate the classical heritage and create revivals of the great choreographer's works. Petipa, who produced over forty original ballets, was against their preservation in a fixed form. «A new time, new people, new tastes will necessarily require revision of my works. This is the law.»8.
«Raymonda» 'was a good school to create a reconstruction of the classical heritage. The first experience of reviving the classics taught an extreme accuracy and careful attitude to the choreography and music of the great masters'9.
On 8 March 1950, Petipa's ballet «Swan Lake» was premiered in Konstantin Sergeyev's edition. Getting to work, the ballet master studied the history of the ballet, paying special attention to the choreographic masterpieces of L. Ivanov (swans' dances).
'My task is difficult and responsible. <…> It is inadmissible to experiment. We must review the whole experience. And we have not to eliminate valuable authors' insighs and virtues of this performance'10.11.
On 25 March 1952, K. Sergeyev presented a revival of the ballet «The Sleeping Beauty» to spectators. This masterpiece of M. Petipa, originally staged in 1890, was later called the "encyclopedia of classical dance".
Sergeyev considered his work to be a historic milestone, as he was to create a new director's and choreographic version of «The Sleeping Beauty» that 'had faded with age'12. Again, the title roles were performed by Natalia Dudinskaya (as Aurora) and Konstantin Sergeyev (as Prince Désiré).
On the day of the premiere, the ballet troupe of the Kirov Theater congratulated Sergeyev with the following words:
«Dear our Konstantin Mihajlovich! Today it is a great occasion for you and us. It is a re-birth of «The Sleeping Beauty» which this season celebrated 62 years. <…> In your production, «The Sleeping Beauty» was revived, spoke, sang in a new way»13.
On 5 July 1973, K. Sergeyev staged his own version of the classical ballet «The Corsair» based on the poem by Lord Byron. Originally choreographed by Joseph Mazilier to the music of Adolphe Adam in the mid 19th century, the ballet was revived and edited by many choreographers, including Marius Petipa in 1899. Konstantin Sergeyev conducted a real research work to reconstructed dance scores of the spectacle. The choreographer tried to preserve the Marius Petipa's choreographic texts, but, at the same time, added many heroic, dramatic, tragic, character dances to the spectacle. Sergeyev did not rejected pantomime scenes, appreciating a performer's ability to apply realistic gestures. He carefully reproduce the old dances and scenes as accurately as possible. In «The Corsair», he restored not only popular M. Petipa's dances, but also little-known episodes. In spite of that, he saw his task in including new pieces and updated choreography to the performance, especially, for the main male characters.
On 18 June 1974, M. Petipa's one-act ballet «The Seasons» to the music of A.K. Glazunov was shown on the stage of the Kirov Theater in a new edition of Konstantin Sergeyev. This work proved that the classics not only retained tremendous vitality, but they could also serve as a powerful stimulus for experiments in the ballet theater. In the short single-act ballet, a hymn of nature sounded. It was heard by the ballet master in Glazunov's music which he called "a pearl of Russian classics".
Throughout his long career, the choreographer Marius Petipa composed and staged more than sixty full-evening ballets, thirty-five dances in operas and five ballet divertissements. Creatively preserving and reviving masterpieces of the classical heritage on the Russian stage, he enriched the Russian ballet with his best original works and raised it to the level of the world's leading theater, created a troupe which was called the "best ballet of Europe", while that time was commonly referred to as «The Age of Petipa».