La Bayadere

The Temple Dancer

La Bayadere
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La Bayadere is a ballet in four acts and seven scenes, choreographed by Marius Petipa. It was first performed by the Imperial Ballet in St. Petersburg in 1877. It was performed to music made by Ludwig Minkus.The name of the play means, "The Temple Dancer."

Plot Summary of La Bayadere:

As for the plotline of the production, La Bayadere takes place in the Royal India of long ago. As the ballet begins, the audience learns that Nikiya, a beautiful temple dancer, is in love with a young warrior named Solor. However, Solor is engaged to the Rajah's daughter. During the betrothal, Nikiya is forced to dance, after which she receives a basket of flowers from the Rajah's daughter. The basket contains a deadly snake and Nikiya dies.

Solor dreams of reuniting with Nikiya in the Kingdom of the Shades. He then awakens, remembering that he's still engaged. At his wedding, however, he sees a vision of Nikiya. He mistakenly says his vows to what he believes is her, instead of his bride-to-be. The gods become infuriated and destroy the palace. Solor and Nikiya reunite in spirit, in the Kingdom of the Shades.

Interesting Facts About La Bayadere

The ballet was first performed by the Imperial Ballet at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St. Petersburg, Russia, on 1877. Even to this day, versions of this original ballet are still performed even though there have been several other versions that have been created since then along with other revivals of the ballet.

Even if you have never seen the entire production, you may have seen part of La Bayadere. This ballet is most famous for its "white act," commonly known as the Kingdom of the Shades. It is one of the most celebrated excerpts in the classical ballet world. The dance begins with 32 women in white, all making their way down a ramp in unison. The dance is exquisite, and often performed by itself. Fun fact: It was first performed solo In March 1903 at Russia's Peterhof Palace.

Vakhtang Chabukiani and Vladimir Ponomarev staged the show, which was derived from the Mariinsky Ballet's version, in 1941. In 1980, Natalia Makarova's version of the show performed in the American Ballet Theatre was staged across the world; that production also incorporated parts from Chabukiani and Ponomarev's version.

Since its start, other productions have been performed throughout the world. During 1991, Rudolf Nureyev of the Paris Opera Ballet planned to revive the show based on the traditional Ponomarev/Chabukiani version. His production was presented at the Paris Opera, or Palais Garnier, in 1992. In it, Isabelle Guérin played Nikiya, Laurent Hilaire was Solor and Élisabeth Platel performed as Gamzatti. The Kirov/Mariinsky Ballet launched a new production of Petipa's 1900 revival of La Bayadère in 2000.

Today, different versions of this well-known ballet are performed throughout the world.