Les Sylphides


Les Sylphides (English: The Sylphs) is a ballet choreographed by Michel Fokine to the music of Frederic Chopin. The music was orchestrated by Stravinsky among others. The scenery and costumes were designed by Alexandre Benois.

Les Sylphides
Set design by Léon Bakst
Choreographed byMichel Fokine
Composed byFrederic Chopin
Date of premiere2 June 1909
Place of premiereThéâtre du Châtelet
Original ballet companyDiaghilev's Ballets Russes
Designs byAlexandre Benois
SettingForest glade
Created forNijinsky
GenreRomantic ballet
Fokine's Ballets

Les Sylphides (1909)
The Firebird (1910)
Le Spectre de la rose (1911)
Petrushka (1911)

The ballet was first performed by the Ballets Russes in Paris at the Théâtre du Châtelet on 2 June 1909. It starred Nijinsky, Tamara Karsavina, Anna Pavlova, and Maria Baldina. The ballet is non-narrative. It does not tell a story. It is a series of dances meant to evoke the atmosphere and ambiance of a romantic ballet.

Les Sylphides was developed from a Fokine ballet called Chopiniana. This ballet was performed in St Petersburg on 21 March 1908. It was a series of imagined scenes from Chopin's life that included a Polish wedding and a ballroom polonaise. It was revised. All characters and any suggestion of a plot were dropped to create instead an evocation of the romantic ballet.

The revised ballet (still called Chopiniana) was performed in St Petersburg on 6 April 1908. This second version was costumed in the long white ballet tutu made famous by Marie Taglioni in La Sylphide. Chopiniana was renamed Les Sylphides when it was presented in Paris.

Les Sylphides generally includes the following musical numbers:

  1. Polonaise in A major, Op. 40, No. 1 ("Military", the Prelude in A major, Op. 28, No. 7 is sometimes substituted)
  2. Nocturne in A flat major, Op. 32, No. 2
  3. Waltz in G flat major, Op. 70, No. 1
  4. Mazurka in D major, Op. 33, No. 2
  5. Mazurka in C major, Op. 67, No. 3
  6. Prelude in A major, Op. 28, No. 7
  7. Waltz in C sharp minor, Op. 64, No. 2
  8. Grande valse brillante in E flat major, Op. 18



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