Bolshoi Ballet

Inside the Bolshoi Theatre. Taken during the break of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker ballet on 10 April 2005.

The Bolshoi Ballet was formed in 1776 in Moscow, Russia. Founded by Prince Peter Urusov and Michael Maddox it is now one of the oldest and greatest ballet companies in the world.

At first, the company held performances in a private home but it 1780 its home became The Petrovka Theatre and also produced plays and operas. The theater burned down in 1805 and another was built for the company in 1824 on Theatre Square. It was named The Imperial Bolshoi Theatre of Moscow and housed both the ballet and the opera. At the time theatres were property of royalty. Both Moscow and St. Petersburg had two theaters. One for ballets and operas and one for plays. Ballets and operas were considered nobler art forms than dramas. So they were in the “grand theaters”. Bolshoi is a term meaning grand. While plays were considered lesser art forms and received the term Maly which refers to “small theaters”.

The Bolshoi Ballet Academy began slightly before the company. The students have a rigorous training schedule and learn the traditional Vaganova Method of ballet. Formally the school is known as the Moscow State Academy of Choreography. It is one of the oldest ballet companies in the world, founded in 1763 as an orphanage by the order of Catherine II. The first ballet classes were taught there in 1773.

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