Marius Petipa

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Marius Petipa (around 1890)

Marius Petipa (/ mari'ʏs peti'pa /) (* 11. March 1818 in Marseille ; † 1 July . Jul / 14. July  1910 greg. In Yalta on the Crimean ) was a French-Russian ballet dancer and choreographer . He is considered the father of classical ballet by combining French, Spanish and Italian influences with Russian ballet.


Marius Petipa was born on March 11, 1818 in Marseille to the ballet master Jean Antonine Petipa and the actress Victorine Graseau. At the age of seven he began to dance under the guidance of his father. Two years later, at the age of nine, he made his first stage appearance as a Savoyard in La Dansomanie with the Pierre Gardell Ballet in his father's production. In 1834 the family moved to Bordeaux, and there he received specific ballet training from the ballet master Auguste Vestris. He continued this in the following years, even after various changes of location. In 1838 he became the main dancer at the Nantes theater. In the following year he accompanied his father on a tour of the USA . He performed at the Broadway Theater in La Tarantule . Overall, the trip was not particularly successful, as the American audience was not particularly open to ballet at the time. Returning to France, Marius Petipa made his debut in Paris at the Comédie-Française . In 1841 he became the first dancer at the theater in Bordeaux.

During a three-year stay in Spain from 1844 onwards, Petipa dealt with Spanish music and traditional dances. Here he became the first dancer at the Teatro Real in Madrid . He had to break off his stay in 1847 because he had tried to flee with the daughter of a Spanish marquis, with whom he had fallen in love. The Spanish family took consistent steps to end this relationship, and in the end all he had was left with the option of leaving the country.

Petipa went to Saint Petersburg in 1847 . Here he started his artistic activity at the Mariinsky Theater on June 5th . Although he was unable to speak the Russian language and never learned to master it sufficiently during his seven-year stay, he experienced his greatest successes there with the imperial ballet at the Bolshoi Theater and the Mariinsky Theater. He worked with various composers such as Cesare Pugni , Ludwig Minkus , Riccardo Drigo and Pjotr ​​Tchaikovsky . Under his artistic direction, Minkus' La Bayadère , Glasunows Raymonda and the Tchaikovsky ballets Sleeping Beauty , The Nutcracker and the edited version of Swan Lake were created together with Lev Ivanov . In St. Petersburg he made it up to the ballet director (first ballet master).

His first choreography was created in 1849 for the Flotow opera Alessandro Stradella . He choreographed the ballet Un mariage sous regence in 1858 and staged La Marché in 1861 . He celebrated his greatest success with the ballet La fille du pharao (The Pharaoh's Daughter). In total, he staged more than 60 ballet performances during these years. In recognition of his services, he became director of the Imperial Theater in Saint Petersburg in 1871. These years were also marked by intense family life. In 1847 he becomes engaged to the dancer Maria Therese Boudin. From this relationship his first son, Marius Mariusewitsch Petipa (1850-1919) emerged. In 1854 he married the dancer Maria Sergejewna Surowschtschikowa (1816–1882). From this marriage his two children Maria MP (1857–1930) and the second son Jean MP (1859–1871) were born. The couple separated in 1875. With his third wife, Lubow Leonidowna Savitskaja (1854-1919), Marius Petipa had six children: Nadezhda MP (1874-1945), Evgenia MP (1877-1892), Victor MP (1879-1939), Ljubow MP (1880–1917), Marius MP (1884–1922) and Vera MP (1885–1961).

During this period of his activity in Russia aegis fell the training of many important ballet dancers; among others, began Mathilda Maria Kschessinskaja , Olga Preobrazhenskaya and Anna Pavlova her career under Petipa.

From 1903, Petipas began to lose power in St. Petersburg. The newly appointed director Teljakowski undermined his work until the performance of a new piece was banned with the flimsy justification of the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war. In 1907 Petipa withdrew to the Crimea, wrote his memoirs (1906/07) and published his diaries.

Petipa's father Jean Antoine Petipa was also a choreographer and ballet teacher, his brother Lucien Petipa was one of the most popular dancers of his time.

His grave is in the Tikhvin Cemetery at the Alexander Nevsky Monastery in Saint Petersburg.


  • Meisner, Nadine: Marius Petipa: the emperor's ballet master , New York, NY, United States of America: Oxford University Press, [2019], ISBN 978-0-19-065929-5

Web links

Commons : Marius Petipa  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Gravestone in the Tikhvin cemetery in Saint Petersburg
  2. Gisela Sonnenburg: Petipa goes on and on! Article on the 200th birthday on from March 8, 2018