Ballet Choreographer. Born of a prosperous middle-class family and entered the Imperial Ballet School at the Mariinsky Theatre in 1889, where he distinguished himself for the breadth of his interests and studies. Fokine was talented not only as a dancer but also as a student of music and painting. He had a fresh and inquiring attitude toward everything connected with the ballet and began quite early to plan choreography, to seek appropriate music in the school library, and to sketch designs. His development as a dancer and he made his debut with the Imperial Russian Ballet on his 18th birthday and was paralleled by his development as a choreographer and designer. In 1904 he wrote the scenario for his first ballet, which was based on the ancient Greco-Roman legend of Daphnis and Chloe. He sent it to the director of the Imperial Theatre with a note about reforms he wanted to see adopted by choreographers and producers. His crusade for artistic unity in ballet had already begun, but at this stage it made little impact. He was not encouraged to produce Daphnis et Chloé (he created it later, in 1912, for Diaghilev). All the same, although at St. Petersburg he had no power to implement his beliefs, he began to work as a choreographer. His first ballet, created in 1905 for performance by his pupils, was Acis et Galatée, based on an ancient Sicilian legend. In 1905 he also composed the brief solo The Dying Swan for the Russian ballerina Anna Pavlova. He continued to create ballets and three of his Mariinsky works were included in revised versions in the momentous season of the Ballets Russes that Diaghilev arranged in Paris in 1909: Le Pavillon d'Armide, Une Nuit d'Égypte (Cléopâtre), and Chopiniana (Les Sylphides). Michel left Russia in 1918 and made his home in New York City from 1923. He worked with various companies in the U.S. and Europe, creating new ballets, such as L'Épreuve d'amour (1936) and Don Juan (1936). None of these later ballets, however, had the impact of his earlier work. He began his last ballet, a comedy, Helen of Troy, for the American Ballet Theatre shortly before his death. It was completed by David Lichine and was premiered at Mexico City on Sept. 10, 1942. His wife, the dancer Vera Fokina, who had performed in many of his ballets, survived him until 1958.
Bio by: Shock