(Mikhail Mikhailovich Fokin; Saint Petersburg, 1880 - New York, 1942) Russian dancer and choreographer. The figure of Fokine appears inextricably linked to that of the businessman Sergei Diaghilev and his Russian Ballets, for whom he performed the choreographies of the most important and innovative works of the genre in the 20th century.
He entered the Ballet School of the Imperial Marinsky Theater in Saint Petersburg in 1889, from which he graduated in 1898, and almost immediately became part of the company. He soon stood out for his magnificent technique and expressiveness, which allowed him to be promoted to soloist dancer in 1904 and teacher at the school the following year. Almost simultaneously, Fokine began his career as a teacher and choreographer, with the ballets A Midsummer Night's Dream (Mendelssohn, 1902), Acis and Galatea (Kadletz, 1905) and La Viña (Rubinstein, 1906), staged by their own students.
In 1905, she was commissioned by ballet dancer Anna Pavlova for a concert in the Hall of Nobles in St. Petersburg. Fokine created for her The Death of the Swan (Saint-Saëns, 1905), a two-minute solo that became the symbol of the new reform of Russian ballet, aimed at abandoning the classical formulas of Marius Petipa. He was the main protagonist of the success of Russian ballet in the West, possibly heavily influenced by Isadora Duncan's anti-technique, although his revolutionary style did not make a dent in the conservative Russian public.
According to him, the only raison d'être of the technique was to serve expression, and the music should be entrusted to true composers and not to mere composition professionals; Only in this way the ballet would achieve a complete unity of expression of all its elements. In this way, when in 1909 he was invited by Sergei Diaghilev to join the Russian Ballets as lead choreographer, Fokine accepted willingly, because he could finally put into practice his ideas, which rejected conventional mime and advocated the integration of dance. , music, plot, scenery and costumes in one unit.
For this company he created an important repertoire with numerous choreographies. Although he continued to do sporadic work for the Marinsky Theater, Fokine did not return to St. Petersburg until 1914, when he broke his relations with Diaghilev for having been relegated to the background for the benefit of Vaslav Nijinsky, who was beginning his choreographic career. He remained in Russia until 1918, producing new ballets: Eros (Tchaikovsky, 1915), Francesca da Rimini (Tchaikovsky, 1915), The Sorcerer's Apprentice (Dukas, 1916), Jota Aragonesa (Glinka, 1916), and Ruslan and Ludmila (Glinka, 1917), among others.
In 1923, at the beginning of the Russian revolution, he settled in New York, from where he traveled to Europe on numerous occasions to trace some of the ballets created for Diaghilev's company, as well as to launch new choreographies. Shortly before his death he began putting on the comic ballet Helena de Troya in New York, which David Lichine finished choreographing and was released in Mexico on September 10, 1942. He was married to the dancer of the Marinsky Theater Vera Fokina, and the son of both, Vitale Fokine, was a longtime ballet teacher in New York. His conception of ballet as a unitary whole of dance, music and painting has had a great influence.