Mikhail Fokine

Dancer, Choreographer
He was born in Saint Petersburg, on 23/04/1880. At the age of nine he was accepted into the Imperial Ballet School (Saint Petersburg). He debuted in 1898 in the ballet Paquita with the Imperial Russian Ballet, and in 1902 became a teacher of the ballet school. As a choreographer, he was a pioneer in teaching choreographies of a freer use and expressive movement of the arms and torso. He argued that each choreography must create a new form of movement reflecting the theme, period and style of the music, while the expressiveness should extend from the individual to the group, and that the arts combined in ballet should be equally treated. Overall, he choreographed over 70 ballets in Europe and America. His first creations were the ballets Acis and Galatea [Acis et Galatée] (1905, the debut of Vaslav Nijinsky, with whom he later had regular cooperation) and The Dying Swan (1907, solo for Anna Pavlova). He became a choreographer of Sergei Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes in Paris (1909-1912), creating the renowned ballets Scheherazade, The Firebird [L'oiseau de feu], Daphnis and Chloe [Daphnis et Chloé], The Spirit of the Rose [Le spectre de la rose] and Petrouchka. He also directed the opera The Golden Cockerel. After the end of his collaboration with Diaghilev (1914), he returned to Russia and in 1918 settled in New York, where he founded a dance school with his wife Vera Fokina. He died in New York on 08/22/1942. His choreographies are still staged to date, such as the ballet Les Sylphides, which was staged by the GNO in the 1990/91 season in a revival by Giannis Metsis (Olympia Theatre, Municipal Theatre of Corfu and Theatre of the Society for Macedonian Studies).