The public first saw Paquita in Paris in 1846. Choreographer Joseph Mazilier based the ballet on La Gitanilla, a novella by Miguel de Cervantes. The music was composed by Édouard Deldevez. During the show’s première, one of the principal roles was brilliantly performed by Lucien Petipa, brother of the famous choreographer Marius Petipa.
Marius, in turn, presented the ballet to the audience in St. Petersburg just one year later, in 1847, then took it to Moscow in 1848. Decades passed by, and in 1881, Petipa returned to Paquita, adding an extra scene, the Wedding Grand Pas, for a special performance in honour of Yekaterina Vazem, one of the most outstanding ballerinas on the St. Petersburg stage. He commissioned Ludwig Minkus to compose a score for his new creation.
Yekaterina Vazem would later recollect, ‘This Grand Pas was immensely successful. Petipa did his best for certain, starting from the dancers’ impressive entrance, then moving on to the ornate adagio for the entire on-stage cast (positioned diagonally from the front right wings to the back left wings, from the audience’s point of view), and culminating with the most diverse variations for the soloists. I always performed this Grand Pas with utmost pleasure.’
Since its world première, the Grand Pas has triumphed around the globe, captivating audiences at the best music theatres. This 30-minute scene invariably becomes the highlight of any dance gala. The Grand Pas from Paquita has been on Leonid Yacobson Ballet’s playbill since 2015.