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#Throwback Thursday: La Vivandiere

This week's #ThrowbackThursday features the Romantic-era ballet La Vivandiere.

Lithograph by an unknown artist of Fanny Cerrito as Kathi in 'La Vivandiere', 1846

La Vivandiere, or Markitenka (as it is known in Russia), is a one-act Romantic ballet choreographed by Arthur Saint-Leon (the choreographer of Coppelia) and Fanny Cerrito (famed Romantic ballerina), to music by prolific composer Cesare Pugni.

A poster showing Cerrito and Sant-Leon in the Polka

The ballet premiered on May 23 1844, at Her Majesty's Theatre in London. Set during the Napoleonic Wars, Cerrito danced the role of Kathi, the Vivandiere (a woman who ran the army canteen in the French army) falls in love with Hans (Saint-Leon), the son of a tavern-keeper,in a small Hungarian village. The production was a success, and Saint-Leon staged revivals in 1845, 1846, and 1848, when he reworked it into a two-act ballet for the Paris Opera Ballet. The ballet introduced the Bohemian Polka, called the 'Redowa', to London.

Above and Below: Poster advertisements for 'La Vivandiere'

Jules Perrot staged a production for the Imperial Ballet which on December 25 1855, under the name Markitenka, at the Imperial Bolshoi Kamenny Theatre in St. Petersburg. The cast included Maria Surovshchikova-Petipa as Kathi, and Perrot as Hans. Marius Petipa later revived this production on October 20 1881, again for the Imperial Ballet.

The cover of an old copy of Pugni's sheet music for the ballet

Arthur Saint-Leon's notation method, known as La Stenochoregraphie, was elaborated on in a publicly published manuel in 1848. One of the example notations was a Pas de Six from his original La Vivandiere production, and in 1975, using this notation, dance notation expert Ann Hutchinson-Guest and frequent reconstructor Pierre Lacotte rescued the piece for the Joffrey Ballet, who performed it in 1977 to Pugni's original music. In 1978, Lacotte then staged it for the Mariinsky, who still perform it. Known as the Vivandiere Pas de Six or the Markitenka Pas de Six, the piece, though rare, has been performed by the Sadler's Wells Ballet in 1987, the Zurich Ballet and the St. Petersburg State Ballet in 1992, the Verona Ballet in 1996, and the Rome Opera Ballet in 2001, among others. The original choreography contained a few surprises, particularly the difficult solo originally performed by Saint-Leon in a time when it was generally believed the male dancers did little on stage.

Above: a cut-out from a newspaper, possibly showing the Joffrey Ballet in 1977; Below: the Mariinsky Ballet, c. late 1980s

I do have a recording of the 'La Vivandiere Pas de Six' from the early 1980s, which I unfortunately cannot upload; instead, here's the 1991 recording with Yelena Pankova and Sergei Vikharev:

Part One:

And Part Two:

Thanks for reading!

- Selene


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