June Ballet – Firebird

Stravinsky’s Firebird really piques the children’s imaginations. Do you remember the fad surrounding “Let it Go,” from Disney’s FROZEN? Somehow, their response to Firebird is a similar form of fascination. They play it on the playground! I just love how they get into it!

This 1977 production is my favorite of all those I’m linking you to! It begins with the “birth” of Katschei, which is really intriguing!

This 2013 production has a simplicity all the others lack–but might be semi-professional.

This Russian production from 1992 stars Leipa, who was the biggest deal when I was studying dance–he was the “New Barishnikov.” The costumes are charming and resemble those from early runs in the ballet’s life.


Costume link: https://50yearsindance.com/2011/09/04/firebird-costumes-from-the-first-performance-to-modern-day/

I want to mention, as I often do, that ballet productions vary in costume, choreography and in concept. You’ll see many different kinds of Katschei (the villain). The first production of the ballet I ever saw had a bumbling Katschei and monsters with goofy choreography. I think this is a good way to represent the villains to the preschoolers, to neutralize the threat of the baddies. You may not see that characterization in the following productions but do watch the childrens’ reactions to this ballet. The productions I’m linking you to below vary in intensity and drama. Check the monsters in each to determine what you think is ok for your children.

The following production is the most atmospheric and cinematic of the Firebird productions I’ve seen online. There are swirling cameras, costume close ups (so ornate!) and visual effects; it feels more like a stage production of Ridley Scott’s Legend than it does a ballet. But once the dancers begin it’s engrossing, and it features my favorite portrayal of Firebird of the options I offer to view. I think the kids could love it. Katschei appears at: 26:23

This production features the prima ballerina of the moment, Diana Vishneva, as the Firebird. The dancing is marvelous but the choreography does not resemble that which I’ve been showing the children. I mention this because some children are suspicious when the production doesn’t feature fixtures familiar to them–they’re likely to think it’s fraudulent. I wanted to include this link among the options to view for one big reason: the monsters in this one are the scariest of all the production I found online. When I teach this story, the children are divided: some say it’s scary (the music is very intense) and others say it’s not scary enough. For the latter group, I offer this. Katschei appears at: 29:33

The last link I’ll offer is the Royal Danish production of Firebird from 2017. It’s modern and spare and absolutely amazing! Costumes are nearly brechtian in their simplicity but the dancing seems especially exuberant as a result. When firebird transforms she coils into an egg shape and pushes her arms out like wings and it really captures the imagination. However, this might also be on the subtle side and kids might not love the fact everyone’s in a unitard and even Katschei didn’t get a mask. But wow is this one incredible and the only startling thing in it is the music.

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