Les Sylphides is a short, non-narrative ballet choreographed by Michel Fokine to music by Frédéric Chopin. It premiered on in 1908 the Maryinsky Theatre in St. Petersburg as Rêverie Romantique: Ballet sur la musique de Chopin or Chopiniana. As Les Sylphides, the ballet was first shown on June 2, 1909 at Théâtre du Châtelet, Paris(4), where La Sylphide had just been shown(4). Another popular orchestration was made by Roy Douglas in 1936(5).
Les Sylphides was originally performed by the Ballets Russes, with principal dancers Tamara Karsavina, Vaslaw Nijinsky, Anna Pavlova, and Alexandra Baldina. In 1940, American Ballet Theatre took up production, and opened it January 11 of that year at the Center Theatre in Rockefeller Center.
The ballet, often described as a "romantic reverie"(2,3), was indeed the first ballet ever to be simply that(2). Les Sylphides has no plot, but instead consists of many sylphs dancing in the moonlight with the poet or young man.
Original title and Performances
Under the title Chopiniana, still staged by Fokine, the ballet had a slightly different musical composition. This version included only five Chopin pieces:
The final version of this ballet, performed under the name Les Sylphides included several more pieces.