One of the most important ballet choreographers of all time, Marius Petipa (1818 - 1910) created works that are now mainstays of the ballet repertoire. Every day, in cities around the world, performances of Swan Lake and The Sleeping Beauty draw large audiences to theatres and inspire new generations of dancers, as does The Nutcracker during the winter holidays. These are his best-known works, but others - Don Quixote, La Bayadere - have also become popular, even canonical components of the classical repertoire, and together they have shaped the defining style of twentieth-century ballet. The first biography in English of this monumental figure of ballet history, Marius Petipa: The Emperor's Ballet Master covers the choreographer's life and work in full within the context of remarkable historical and political surroundings. Over the course of ten well-researched chapters, Nadine Meisner explores Marius Petipa's life and legacy: the artist's arrival in Russia from his native France, the socio-political tensions and revolution he experienced, his popularity on the Russian imperial stage, his collaborations with other choreographers and composers (most famously Tchaikovsky), and the conditions under which he worked, in close proximity to the imperial court. Meisner presents a thrilling and exhaustive narrative not only of Petipa's life but of the cultural development of ballet across the 19th and early 20th centuries. The book also extends beyond Petipa's narrative with insightful analyses of the evolution of ballet technique, theatre genres, and the rise of male dancers. Richly illustrated with archival photographs, this book unearths original material from Petipa's 63 years in Russia, much of it never published in English before. As Meisner demonstrates, the choreographer laid the foundations for Soviet ballet and for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, the expatriate company which exercised such an enormous influence on ballet in the West, including the Royal Ballet and Balanchine's New York City Ballet. After Petipa, Western ballet would never be the same.
Nadine Meisner tells the gripping story of Marius Petipas remarkable career at the Imperial Theatres with great flair. Her scrupulous research reveals the French choreographers seminal role in laying a foundation without which the dance revolution wrought by Diaghilevs Ballets Russes in the twentieth century would scarcely have been possible. * Rosamund Bartlett, author of Wagner and Russia * Marius Petipa, the architect of classical ballet as we know it today, finds a splendid biographer in Nadine Meisners The Emperors Ballet Master. This compulsively readable book gives us not only Petipas melodramatic life, from his youthful wanderings through his artistic flowering in Russia, but the very flavor of the worlds he passed through and settled in all narrated in supremely graceful and lively prose. Absolutely essential reading for cultural history devotees. * Elizabeth Kendall, author of Balanchine and the Lost Muse * In Marius Petipa: The Emperor's Ballet Master, the first biography in English of the preeminent architect of Russian ballet classicism, Nadine Meisner offers a vivid portrait of the French-born itinerant dancer who choreographed dozens of ballets during sixty years of service to Russia's tsars. In this deeply researched book we meet the workaholic who labored over the grand ensembles and cascades of solo dances that became defining features of ballets such as The Sleeping Beauty and raymonda; the lover and man of passion who was also a devoted father, and the company director who learned to navigate a world of courtiers, bureaucrats, and protectors' to create with his dancers a world of beauty in movement. * Lynn Garafola, author of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes and Professor Emerita of Dance, Barnard College * The depth of research is impressive ... a valuable pulling together of research into one volume ... it is a good read. * Charlotte Kanser, SeeingDance.com * Nadine Meisner's meticulously researched biography is the first coherent, full length, account of his life... This is an important book on many levels: drawing on an impressive array of primary and secondary research materials, it fills a narrative gap in ballet history... * Maggie Watson, Oxford Dance Writers * As a research tool Meisner's biography is invaluable as it includes detailed information concerning Petipa's ballets with notations and the artists who performed in them... This is a valuable biography of one of the most important artists in the ballet world and also how Petipas influence is very much alive on the ballet stages of the world today. * Mark Kappel, Newsnotes Dance Blog * ... it's a great thing that finally a full-scale biography of Petipa has arrived, the first to appear in English, published by Oxford University Press in solid, beautifully written text by the British journalist-scholar Nadine Meisner ... She has written an affectionate, thoughtful life ... This is a book I will return to again and again. * Paul Parish, Bay Area Reporter * Through her exhaustive work, which includes a comprehensive list of the works he created in Russia and a Petipa genealogy, Meisner presents the story of a key figure in the development of Western ballet... an important addition to any performing arts collection. Students of Russian culture and history, and devotees of dance, alike will appreciate its scope and scholarship. * Carolyn Mulac, BookList * A rich addition to scholarship on Russian ballet. Meisner fills in long-standing gaps in the literature by focusing on the life and works of one of the most significant, yet understudied, names in ballet history, and she does so in a style that is enjoyable as well as informative. * Megan Race, LA Review of Books * Nadine Meisner's meticulously researched and exhaustively detailed study will surely establish itself as the standard authority on the subject in English. The absence of any scorching drama or scandal in Petipa's life means that it doesn't make electrifying reading, but its poise and scholarship impress, particularly in its command of the broader cultural context. * Rupert Christiansen, The Spectator * ... a magisterially epic study of the man who gave the world La Bayadere, The Sleeping Beauty and Swan Lake ... Meisner weaves this biographical material into a much broader picture of ballet under the tsars; she is excellent on the contrasting skills and styles of the ballerinas with whom Petipa worked, and who forged his style just as much as any ethereal notions of dance did. * Sarah Crampton, The Sunday Times * ... engaging, well-researched, and strong on context ... Ms Meisner's biography is impressively detailed ... weaves a rich portrait of Petipa, his circumstances, his times. * John Check, Wall Street Journal * A valuable new book ... Ms. Meisner's book, the first full-length Petipa biography in English, is by far the most detailed and complete survey of his life and work to date. * Alistair Macauley, New York Times * A wonderful, comprehensive biography ... Meisner has meticulously researched the facts of Petipa's life and presents a full portrait of the man born in Marseilles in 1818, investigating his talent and his temperament. It's immensely readable, with tantalising archive photographs and an exhaustive and invaluable chronology of all Petipa's Russian works. * Debra Craine, The Times *