Exhibit in detail. Musical automaton "Ballerina"
World Ballet Day is a new holiday. Up until 2014, ballet dancers did not have their own professional date and celebrated International Dance Day. Ballet Day was established on the initiative of the Covent Garden Theatre (London). It was in this theatre that a wonderful idea emerged – to popularise ballet as a special kind of choreographic art. In the premises where the Royal Ballet rehearsals took place, many cameras were installed, with the help of which a live broadcast was conducted via social networks. The campaign was a great success, with half a million views on the first day.
In 2023, on World Ballet Day, festivals and online broadcasts will be held around the world to showcase the behind-the-scenes preparation of performances, rehearsals and dance classes. This event has the aim to make people realise that the beauty, grace and lightness expressed in ballet dance is the result of hard work of choreographers, dancers and ballet-masters. On World Ballet Day, everyone will be able to see what ballet life is like on a typical rehearsal day.
Ballet has its origins in the Italian Renaissance choreography (from the Italian ballare - to dance). Initially, ballet was defined as small dance scenes in opera or musical performances, which were united by a single plot. As an independent art ballet was formed in France in the Baroque era, and from there it spread throughout Europe.
The first full-scale ballet performance in Russia is considered to be the performance "Orpheus and Eurydice" shown on 8 February 1673. This significant event took place at the court of Alexei Mikhailovich. During the reign of Catherine II, ballet was so popular that even Russian aristocrats learnt to dance it. The very first ballet school in the country was founded in 1738. After a while, ballet became a priority art form. The state allocated huge subsidies for the development of ballet. This was the beginning of the rapid development of classical ballet in Russia.
Сomposer Pyotr Tchaikovsky is considered to be a reformer of the ballet art. It was in his art work that the Romantic ballet was established. Tchaikovsky paid special attention to music, turning it from an accompanying element into a powerful instrument that helped the dance to capture and reveal emotions and feelings. The composer transformed the form of ballet music and also built a unified symphonic development. The entire world knows and loves “Swan Lake” (the hallmark of Russian ballet and ballet art in general), “The Nutcracker” and “The Sleeping Beauty”. All these performances emerged in the creative tandem of composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky and choreographer Marius Petipa. Another performance, recognised as one of the top five in the world, was based on the music of composer Sergei Prokofiev. This is the immortal love story “Romeo and Juliet”.
The "Russian Seasons" in Paris, organised by Sergei Diaghilev at the beginning of the 20th century, were a resounding success. All the newspapers of the world wrote about the touring performances of the artists of the Imperial Theatres of St. Petersburg and Moscow. The Revolution and the Civil War forced many outstanding ballet dancers to leave their homeland. Nevertheless, the Russian ballet school continued to live in the Soviet Union. Through the 20th century Russian ballet passed triumphantly. Today, this beautiful art form is a national treasure and a cultural symbol of the country.
Today, on World Ballet Day, our traditional column "Exhibit in Details" features a story about the musical automaton "Ballerina", created by Roullet & Decamps, a French company producing mechanical toys, and Pierre-Francois Jumeau, the founder of a firm, making porcelain dolls. The automaton was made circa 1890. The automation is a figure of ballerina fixed on wooden stand. The ballerina standing on her right foot holds a flower garland in her hands. Musical mechanism with a sound comb, pinned metal cylinder and spring drive is mounted inside the stand. When the mechanism is switched on, music sounds and the ballerina rhythmically rotates, imitating a fouette.