Choreography by Mikhail Fokine
Conductor: Alexander Novikov
Staging by Sergey Vikharev
Stage Designer: Igor Grinevich
Principal Chorus Master: Vyacheslav Podyelsky
Chorus Master: Sergey Tenitilov
Première of the production: 3 June 2000
The production was shown on tour to Sarajevo, Novi Sad, Belgrade (Yugoslavia, 1989), Bangkok (Thailand, 2000)
The Polovtsian Dances is a scene from Act II of the opera Prince Igor. The act is set in the Polovtsian camp, where on Khan Konchak’s request the Polovtsian slave girls and boys entertain Prince Igor with Oriental dances — fluid, full of delight and languish at times, fiery at times.
The Polovtsian Dances also exist as an individual choreographic piece, often performed in ballet galas. One of the most interesting choreographic versions of the Polovtsian dances was staged by the outstanding Russian choreographer Mikhail Fokine (1909, Russian seasons, Paris and St Petersburg).
From Mikhail Fokine’s book Against the Current:
“I would especially like to mark out the Polovtsian Dances (which I consider to be one of the most important works of mine)... In the Polovtsian Dances I attempted to give an example of the expressive dance en masse.
Before that the task of the corps de ballet was reduced to being the background of the ballerina’s or soloists’ dance, to the mere accompaniment. There existed corps de ballet dances without any soloists at all. Nevertheless, its task was to create an ornament, to unite all the dancers in one rhythm. But nobody spoke of the expression of feelings, of the ecstasy, of the inspiration.
My new interesting task was to create an exciting, thrilling dance. <...> What do I know about the Polovtsian dances, I thought. How little history knows about the wild tribe! I was embarrassed by the lack of the materials and my admiration of the music, which I was afraid to spoil. I was ready to reject the offer to create the dances. Diaghilev, who was staging the act from the opera in Paris and offered it to me, told me: „You will do it perfectly well...“ Nikolay Roerich, who was in charge of the sets and costumes for Prince Igor, told me: „I’m sure, you’ll do something incredible.„ So, I trusted them and started my work. Where did I take my pas from? I would say — from the music.
Sometimes, I used to start working in full possession of the historical and ethnographic facts, taken from museums and books. This time I had only Borodin’s score, that was my only material.
As hesitant I was before starting my work, so self-assured I was when I did start. Nobody would have been able to confound me. I had a clear vision, and I believed, even if the Polovtsian hadn’t danced like that, they would dance like that to Borodin’s music. Later, and very soon, the dances became a highlight of the Diaghilev’s enterprise and one of the great victories of the Russian ballet.“