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Symphonic Ballets, Balletic Symphonies… Tchaikovsky and Dance Music

Tchaikovsky’s three ballet scores are all revered today, but they drew mixed—sometimes very negative—reviews when they were first performed. "The melody is too… how can I say it? Too confused, too capricious—in a word, it was not written 'balletically.'” (St Petersburg News, 1877) That was a critic’s verdict after the premiere of—wait for it—Swan Lake.

So you think you know dance?

Which animal is responsible for Nikiya's death in La Bayadère, one of ballet's most tragic moments? Just how long is the typical tutu in the Romantic ballet? Can you recognize what ballet basics like an arabesque or a grand jeté look like on stage? Let's find out!