Our new Swan Lace collection combines two distinct laces to dazzling effect. But when it comes to ballet and lace, we admit to being upstaged by Marius Petipa (1818-1910), the premier choreographer for the Imperial Russian Ballet during the later half of the 19th century, often called the “father of classical ballet.”
Les Pilules Magique (The Magic Pills), premiered in 1886 at the Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg. Petipa set the ballet’s third act in a fantastical “Kingdom of the Laces,” and used dance choreography and costumes to dramatize the characteristics of Venetian, Belgian, English, Spanish and Russian lace.
I.F. Vasilevsky, a Russian journalist, was enraptured:
“The whole scene is a fantastic grotto of lace. The . . . backdrops, and the ceiling are all lace, tender, soft, and radiant, masterfully coordinated and lit by a slightly trembling electric light, at times light pink and at times, bluish. . . . And in this wonderful frame, no less than one hundred pretty female dancers, with only head, feet, and hands visible in clouds of all sorts of (authentic) laces, that serve as their costumes. I saw stagings of ballets and féeries in Paris and London that were blinding in their splendor, but must admit that the ‘Kingdom of Laces’ is above the competition” (Russkie Vedomosti, February 26, 1886, pp. 2-3, quoted in Sleeping Beauty, a Legend in Progress, Tim Scholl (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004).)