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Ballet Talk for Dancers

Books: Petipa's Diaries

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I saw some references Ballet Talk to Petipa's diaries. What is are the contents of the diaries (about his ballets, notation, music, etc)? What years are they from? Are they published into a book? Where can I find a copy of them? Thank you for any help!

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I do not believe the entire Diaries have been published, at this point, for the general public to view. Major Johnson or others may know the answer to your question more than I. If they are available, I would run out to buy them very quickly, I never thought to ask the question though. Great question! :) Sounds like good summer reading for me if they are available! :shrug:


I googled them, but nothing came up accept various references to them.

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There have been a few different translations, notably by Lillian Moore and later by Lynn Garafola. The only problem is that all those that have been done were in short-run, small-circulation journals like Dance Perspectives and they're all out of print. This is a job for your local library! If they don't have it, get it on interlibrary loan and photocopy like mad! A word of caution: One is entitled "Memoires de Marius Petipa". Sounds good, but you better be able to read French. No English translation. My French is pretty idiomatic, but it's in the wrong idioms. I'm kind of limited to ballet terminology, cookbooks, and army ordnance manuals. If I want to go to a restaurant and order a machine gun with tiny little leg beats (mitrailleuse aux petits battements serrés), I'm all set.

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as mel notes the latest(?) publication in english of petipa's diaries was in a small, academic-journal format, and has been out of print for some time now.

here is how the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts catalogues its copy of the book. until something more 'formal' and broad in scope comes along, this is about the best we've now got in english. as you can see, the period in which the diary entries were made is given in the catalogue entry. garafola's introduction and footnotes to the entries provide much useful background to the period and its dancing and dancers. until wiley comes out with his full biography of petipa, this is about as weighty a picture of 'ballet master to his imperial majesty the czar' as we have.


Petipa, Marius, 1818-1910.

The diaries of Marius Petipa / edited, translated, and introduced by Lynn Garafola.

Studies in dance history ; v. 3, no. 1

Studies in dance history. Pennington, NJ : Princeton Periodicals. v. 3, no. 1, Spring 1992, xxv, 103 p. ill.

Covers the period January 1903 through December 1905 and March-July 14, 1907.

"Works by Marius Petipa in Russia": p. 80-94.

"Selected bibliography": p. 95-97.

Includes index.

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Thank you for the head start! I'm in my second year of studying French, so I don't think I'm quite ready for a French version yet. RDA is this week, but I'll stop by the library and ask for help next week. rg, do you know when Wiley's biography will come out? Any updates on the diaries would be greatly appreciated. If anything even comes out in the next year I'll be okay because I still have Les Mis, Anna Karenina, and Crime and Punishment to read!

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I bought an English translation of Petipa's memoirs online a year ago, via a website which allows you to search numerous second-hand bookstores. You could try searching for the author "Marius Petipa" at ABE Books. You'll mainly see copies of the French version, but also some copies of Lillian Moore's English translation, starting at about $75. (That's more than I paid for my copy.) You can also search Amazon via the link at the top of this page; I believe you can buy second hand copies through them, as well.


I found it a very interesting read. He described having an illegal duel with a rival suitor within the first couple of chapters. He was very old when he wrote his memoirs, with a massive chip on his shoulder, as a result of being "put out to pasture" against his will. According to the translator, some of the dates he gave for events early in his life simply had to be wrong. Reading between the lines, it sounded to me as though he was pushed out because the people in positions of authority thought he was going senile. If you're looking for specific detail on how he approached his choreography, you may not find much there. He seemed focussed on making venomous remarks about the enemies who had pushed him aside, and on presenting the reader with details of all the awards and notes of admiration he had received from significant figures, with better taste.

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Thank you tylerls! I will check out the link. It will hopefully provide valuable insight into his personality and perhaps that can help explain why he choreographed the certain ballets. Thank you!!!

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