The undisputed master of classical ballet in the late 19th century was Marius Petipa, balletmaster at the famed Mariinsky Theater in St. Petersburg, Russia.
An influential teacher and choreographer, he commissioned many world premieres of now-classic ballets, including Peter Tchaikovsky’s Sleeping Beauty.
In fact, all three of Tchaikovsky’s major ballets – Sleeping Beauty, Swan Lake and The Nutcracker – were commissioned by Petipa for the Mariinsky Ballet.
The score is musical setting of a French fairy tale about a princess who falls under a witch’s spell and sleeps for one hundred years until a prince kisses her and breaks the spell.
Sleeping Beauty went on to be major hit for both Petipa and Tchaikovsky, and the work is now a classic of the ballet repertoire.