Grand Pas Classique

  • Choreographer: Victor Gsovsky (Staged by Susan Jaffe)
  • Music: Daniel-Francois Auber
  • Costumes: Janet Groom Campbell
  • Lighting: Christina Gianelli
  • World Premiere: Novemeber 12, 1949; Les Ballets des Champs-Elysees, Paris, France
  • PBT Performance Date: October 22-24. 2021 at Benedum Center for the Performing Arts

Program Notes

Victor Gsovsky was a 20th century Russian dancer, teacher and choreographer. He was a répétiteur for numerous European ballet companies, including the Paris Opera, and his students include the acclaimed New York City Ballet ballerina Violette Verdy.

Gsovsky choreographed Grand Pas Classique in 1949 as a stand-alone pas de deux (dance for two), and it has become his most famous work, loved by dancers and audiences across the world for its challenging and virtuosic choreography. He meant for it to be an homage to classical ballet style and aesthetic, pioneered in 19th century Russia by the “father” of classical ballet, Marius Petipa. This work has the architecture of a traditional grand pas de deux, a structure codified by Petipa, with an entrance for the two dancers, an adagio (slow movement), solos for both dancers and an exciting finale, or coda, that reunites the two. Petipa gave us gorgeous, show-stopping grand pas in several of his full-length ballets, including the wedding pas de deux in The Sleeping Beauty and the “Sugar Plum Pas de Deux” in The Nutcracker.

The choreography in Grand Pas Classique is a great example of what classical ballet technique is all about. Gsovsky followed Petipa’s recipe for this style of ballet – sparkling precision, beautiful, clear lines, dazzling turns, impossible balances and steely strength (don’t miss the ballerina’s solo!). Today, with modern training and conditioning practices, dancers can elevate this style and technique to heights Petipa, and perhaps even Gsovsky, may have never thought possible. With a throughline to ballet’s past, Grand Pas Classique is an exhilarating display of classical ballet for the 21st century.