234th Season

Vasily Vaynonen

Choreographer

VAYNONEN Vasily Ivanovich (1901 - 1964, St. Petersburg), ballet dancer, choreographer, Honoured Artist of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic (1939). Graduated from the Petrograd Drama School, where he studied under V.I. Ponomarev in 1919. In the same year, he became a performer, then a choreographer (until 1938) at the Kirov Opera and Ballet Theatre. Created several ballets, including The Flame of Paris (1932), Partisans‘ Days (1937), and Militsa (1947) set to music by B.V. Asafyev; and the Nutcracker by P.I. Tchaikovsky (1934). Vaynonen‘s interest in modern themes was combined with a sense of traditionalism. During a time when dramatic theatre dominated, Vaynonen‘s productions stood out with strong dance elements. Celebrities who took part in the performances he directed included G.S. Ulanova, V.M. Chabukiani, K.M. Sergeev, N.M. Dudinskaya, O.G. Iordan, and N.A. Anisimova.

Perhaps his most celebrated production was his 1934 version of Tchaikovsky's The Nutcracker, a production which was successfully revived in 1954, is available on DVD in a 1994 revival, and remains in the repertory of the company to this day. Other choreographers of the beloved Christmas ballet, such as Mikhail Baryshnikov and Yuri Grigorovich, have freely borrowed several ideas supposedly from the Vainonen Nutcracker for their own productions. (Vainonen is often erroneously credited with being the first choreographer to introduce the idea that Clara's adventures with the Nutcracker turns out to be a dream, a plot twist not found in the 1892 original production, and he is also often mistakenly credited with the idea of casting adults rather than children in the roles of Clara and the Nutcracker/ Prince, thereby introducing a love interest into the plot which was not present in the original production. It was choreographer Alexander Gorsky who actually came up with both these ideas in his 1919 revival of the ballet.)

However, Baryshnikov, in his production of The Nutcracker did borrow Vainonen's choreography for the "Snowflake Waltz", and gave him credit for it in the billing. He also included, like Vainonen, a puppet show staged by Drosselmeyer during the Christmas Party scene. The puppet show foreshadows the later fantasy scenes by having a Prince, a Princess, and a Mouse King as characters.

Vainonen choreographed several other ballets, one of the most notable being the first full-length staging of Dimitri Shostakovich's The Golden Age. He also spent a total of eight years with the Bolshoi Ballet.




Mariinsky Theatre:
1 Theatre Square
St. Petersburg
Mariinsky-2 (New Theatre):
34 Dekabristov Street
St. Petersburg
Mariinsky Concert Hall:
20 Pisareva street
St. Petersburg