Earlier this month, the performing arts world lost one of its most prolific figures when Russian ballet dancer and choreographer Sergei Vikharev unexpectedly died at the age of 55. Cennarium pays tribute to this ballet master with two classic performances from 1991: the pas de six from “Markitenka” and “Petrushka,” a masterpiece of the 20th-century ballet repertoire created by Stravinsky. Both are from the first-ever studio recording of the world-famous Kirov Ballet.
Vikharev began his career at the Mariinsky Ballet (formerly the Kirov Ballet) where after an accomplished tenure as a dancer he became a ballet master known for restaging 19th-century works. Most notably, he reconstructed the ballets of Marius Petipa — considered one of the most influential ballet masters in history — which caused much debate and controversy within the ballet community and among audiences. In 1999, Vikharev staged a four-hour presentation of Petipa’s “The Sleeping Beauty” at the Mariinsky Theater that was in his estimation more representative of the original version performed in 1890 at the Mariinsky. His second Petipa reconstruction was “La Bayadère” in 2002 also at the Mariinsky Theater, followed by “The Awakening of Flora” in 2007 and then in 2009 with “Coppélia” at the Bolshoi Ballet. Vikharev went on to work with other ballet companies around the world on the revival of classic works, all of which were reconstructed in his unique style and interpretation.
While the debate on Vikharev’s reconstruction of 19th-century classics continues, all agree his work got people talking about ballet, its meaning, and interpretation. His legacy will live on in his performances and vision for bringing this art form to audiences around the world.