Music by F. Chopin.
Scenario by M. Fokine.
Choreography by M. Fokine.
Revised version by A. Vaganova.
Premiered on March 8, 1908 in Saint-Petersburg at Mariinsky Theatre.
Ballet in 1 act.
“In 1906, when rehearsing theproduction of the first version of "Les Sylphides" performed to Glazunov’s orchestration of Chopin’s music, I created for Pavlova and Obukhov – my friend from the ballet school – a waltz in C Sharp Minor, which was specially orchestrated by Glazunov at our request as an addition to the suite.
The sylph – winged hope – flies into a romantic garden lit by the moon. She is followed by a young man. It was dancing in the style of Taglioni, in the style of that long-forgotten time when ballet was governed by poetry, when a dancer rose en pointe not to demonstrate the steel-like arch of her foot but in order to create the impression of lightness, barely touching the ground, something ethereal and fantastical. In this dance there is not one pirouette, not a single trick. But how poetic, how beautiful and how engaging was this duet in the air! The audience was enchanted, as was I. Pavlova made such a powerful impression on me that I wondered about staging an entire ballet in this style. And by the time her next gala performance came round I had created the ballet Les Sylphides. If, back then, she had not danced Chopin’s waltz so brilliantly, so enchantingly, I would never have created this ballet.”
Hightlights from the article Memoirs of a Ballet-Master.
The ballet does not have a definite plot. This is a dance composition, where there are no characters. The world of visions is represented by beautiful maidens/sylphs, whose airy appearance arises in the imagination of a young man. The music of F. Chopin is represented in the ballet as a world of fleeting visions and romantic dreams. The senseless motif of the poetic world of the Sylphs helps to express the worldview of dreaminess and melancholy.