Romantic Ballet for Purists

CoppeliaFairies, ghosts, exotic locales, mesmerizing automatons — the archetypes of romantic ballet are well-known to all fans of the genre. What is less well-known is how these ballets were performed originally: created in an era prior to the advent of modern choreographic notation, how can one recapture the ephemeral play of dancers on the stage? Nonetheless, many choreographers from Marius Petipa onward have attempted to do just that. Here are five full-length best-of-class recreations of these near-weightless tales — enjoy:

Choreography by Filippo Taglioni (Pierre Lacotte revival), music by Jean-Madeleine Schneitzhoeffer — La Sylphide

Choreography by Jean Coralli and Jules Perrot (Marius Petipa revival), music by Adolphe Adam — Giselle

Choreography by Jules Perrot (Pierre Lacotte revival), music by Cesare Pugni — Ondine

Choreography by Jules Perrot (Anton Dolin revival), music by Cesare Pugni — Pas de Quatre

Choreography by Joseph Mazilier (Marius Petipa revival), music by Adolphe Adam — Le Corsaire