The St.Petersburg school of classical ballet, the former Imperial Theatre School, has existed for over two hundred and seventy years, without any sign of artistic fatigue or decline. It produced stars as Anna Pavlova , Michel Fokine ,Vaslav Nijinsky, Galina Ulanova, Michail Baryshnikov, Rudolf Nureyev, to name a few. The schools vitality is astonishing. As is the consistently highest level it maintains.
The other world schools have undergone so many ups and downs in that period: the Paris ballet, the Milan, and even Copenhagen. One of the causes of the catastrophes of the Paris Opera was the extreme openness. There was no an erosion of artistic boundaries and a lost sense of the uniqueness of the art of ballet.
The St.Petersburg ballet school has achieved the ideal correlation between openness and hermetism. The door is constantly shut and locked for dilettantes of all kinds and types, particularly for dilettante negators and false prophets. It is open to masters of all types, generations and countries.
It is a school of exquisite mastery of the impeccable, almost idolized and holy. St. Petersburg does not recognize the difference between artists and masters: a master of the St.Petersburg ballet is artist and magus, and wizard. And conversely, an artist who does not have flawless mastery, an artist who is not a professional is for Petersburgers an unpardonable blasphemy, ridiculous nonsense.
Classical dance in the St.Petersburg ballet is the highest value and the basic construction material, speech and the language of speech. In classical compositions, the dramatic context of the ballet and its attractive beauty is its meaning and its secret. And all this complex art with its renaissance diversity, richness and almost decadent refinement has passed through the centuries without losing itself but taking something from each age of its long voyage; this art trying on various masks but preserving its face, the smiling face of eternal youth rushing toward happiness; this great art can be reduced to a simple formula that reveals its essence: the awakening of the soul in classic dance.
The St.Petersburg ballet entered the history with the effective episodes of long flights. The creator of "flying ballets" was Charles Didlot, who established the tradition of poetic theatre. A half century later this tradition was developed by Marius Petipa, bringing the show down to the floor but filling the corps de ballet with the energy and spirituality of flight. Then Anna Pavlova and Vaslav Nijinsky returned ballet to opened elevations, reviving the charms of Didlot's legendary era and giving a powerful impulse to the creative work of the next generation.
And the famous virtuosi of the late nineteen century who came to St.Petersburg from European capitals, playing an important role in the development of the St. Petersburg school, themselves fell under its spell and obeyed its artistic demands in their own great art, accepting all its norms. One example from a multitude was the genius dancer and teacher Enrico Checchetti, who astonished people with his leaps in Arcadia Park in 1887, just three years later was on the stage of the Maryinsky Theatre as the Blue Bird. This path is the one followed by many later and in our days.