Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia, music by Léo Delibes, 1952 revival, choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton, original choreography Louis Mérante. Benois de la Danse 2016 Laureates Gala, shot on 17.5.2016 in Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow.

See all pieces in full from Benois de la Danse 2016 Laureates Gala

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik Sylvia 1

Oksana Skorik in Sylvia 2

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Philipp Stepin in Sylvia 1

Philipp Stepin in Sylvia 2

Philipp Stepin in Sylvia 3
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Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik Philipp Stepin Sylvia-125

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

Oksana Skorik and Philipp Stepin in Sylvia

See all pieces in full from Benois de la Danse 2016 Laureates Gala

Oksana Skorik (Rus. Оксана Скорик) is currently Prima Ballerina with Mariinsky Theatre, St Petersburg. She was born in Kharkiv, Ukraine on April 20, 1989. It was decided by her mother that she was going to be a ballet dancer ever since she was born, and when Oksana became 5 years old, her mother took her to Kharkiv choreographic school. At age of 12 Perm School of Dance talent seekers found her and invited to Perm. Oksana graduated from Perm School of Dance six years later in 2007 at the age of 18 and joined the Mariinsky Ballet as a coryphée the same year. She was promoted to first soloist in 2012, in Sept 2015 Skorik was promoted to principal ballerina of Mariinsky.

Philipp Stepin (Rus. Филипп Стёпин) is first soloist with Mariinsky Theatre. He was born in Leningrad (St Petersburg). He is graduated from the Vaganova Academy of Russian Ballet in 2005 (class of Boris Bregvadze). Joined the Mariinsky Ballet in 2005; soloist since 2009.

Sir Frederick William Mallandaine Ashton OM CH CBE (1904 – 1988) was a British ballet dancer and choreographer. He also worked as a director and choreographer in opera, film and revue. Determined to be a dancer, despite the opposition of his conventional middle-class family, Ashton was accepted as a pupil by Léonide Massine and then by Marie Rambert. In 1926 Rambert encouraged him to try his hand at choreography, and though he continued to dance professionally, with success, it was as a choreographer that he became famous. Ashton was chief choreographer to Ninette de Valois, from 1935 until her retirement in 1963, in the company known successively as the Vic-Wells Ballet, the Sadler’s Wells Ballet and the Royal Ballet. He succeeded de Valois as director of the company, serving until his own retirement in 1970. Ashton is widely credited with the creation of a specifically English genre of ballet.

Sylvia, originally Sylvia, ou La nymphe de Diane, is a full-length ballet in two or three acts, first choreographed by Louis Mérante to music by Léo Delibes in 1876. Sylvia is a typical classical ballet in many respects, yet it has many interesting features that make it unique. Sylvia is notable for its mythological Arcadian setting, creative choreographies, expansive sets and, above all, its remarkable score. The ballet’s origins are in Tasso’s 1573 play Aminta, which provides the basic plot of Delibes’ work. When Sylvia premièred on 1876, at the Palais Garnier, it went largely unnoticed. In fact, the first seven productions of Sylvia were not commercially successful. It was the 1952 revival, choreographed by Sir Frederick Ashton, that popularized the ballet. Ashton’s success set the stage for the 1997, 2004, 2005 and 2009 productions, all of which were based on his 1952 choreography.

Sir Frederick Ashton re-choreographed Sylvia in 1952. As the story goes, what sparked Ashton’s interest in Sylvia was a dream he had in 1946. In the dream, Delibes charged Ashton with revitalizing his under-appreciated ballet and Ashton, upon waking, took up the task. The master choreographed Sylvia with a strong emphasis on the lead rôle; in fact he designed the entire ballet as a tribute to Margot Fonteyn, a dancer with whom he worked. Clive Barnes, an American drama critic, noted, “the whole ballet is a garland presented to the ballerina by her choreographer.” This “garland” was produced by The Royal Ballet and it was first performed at The Royal Opera House in London on September 3, 1952.

Margot Fonteyn played the lead rôle of Sylvia when this version opened. Aminta was played by Michael Somes, Orion by John Hart[13] and Eros by Alexander Grant.[citation needed]

Photos by Jack Devant Ballet Photography with kind permission of the Benois de la Danse and Bolshoi Theatre, special thanks to Nina Kudriavtseva-Loory and Regina Nikiforova.

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