On this date in 1898 Raymonda premiered at the Mariinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg. The production had music by Alexander Glazunov, choreography by Marius Petipa and an all star cast (for its day) that included Pierina Legnani, Sergey Legat, Olga Peobrajenska and Pavel Gerdt.

The ballet's plot was, and has always been, difficult to follow. Some would say it is downright loony. However, as a dancing showcase it has proved irresistible to both choreographers and dancers.

The full-length Raymonda has been revived many times throughout its performance history: Mikhail Fokine for the Ballets Russes (1909), George Balanchine and Alexandra Danilova for The Ballet Russes de Monte Carlo (1946), Konstantin Sergeyev for the Kirov Ballet (1948), Rudolf Nureyev for American Ballet Theatre (1976) and Paris Opera Ballet (1983), Yuri Grigorovich for the Bolshoi (1984) and Sergej Vikharov for La Scala (2011).

Raymonda is probably best known for the three works that George Balanchine choreographed to different sections of the ballet: Pas de Dix (1956), Raymonda Variations (1961) and Cortege Hongrois (1973), the latter two still in the repertoire of the New York City Ballet.

While we don't often see a full length Raymonda it can be appreciated from listening to the full length recording on the Naxos label, available on Amazon as a CD for $6.83 or an MP3 music download for $15.98. The music is wonderful for dancing and can even be enjoyed on its own merits. And no, I'm not plugging Amazon, but just letting you know that there is a full length recording of Raymonda available.


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Barnett Serchuk Editor-in-Chief of Broadwayworld Dance.

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