Firebird by Yuri Possokhov

Dancers Michael Eaton and Kimberly Cowen in Firebird in winter 2009.
Dancers Michael Eaton and Kimberly Cowen in Firebird in winter 2009.

Choreography: Yuri Possokhov
Music: Igor Stravinsky
Costume & Scenic Design: Yuri Zhukov

The Firebird is a magical bird who appears in a number of Russian fairy tales and legends. Even just a feather from her tail is enough to light up a whole room. This magic bird represents the passion and inspiration that is found in many exquisite and unique Russian lacquer works of art and was the inspiration for the Russian tale, The Firebird. The story was the source for one of the most famous folklore ballets composed by Igor Stravinsky under commission from Sergei Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes. Stravinsky once said that Russian legends have as their heroes men who are “simple, naïve, sometimes even stupid, devoid of all malice, and it is they who are always victorious over characters that are clever, artful, complex, cruel and powerful.”

In the original tale young prince Ivan, the hero, finds himself in the terrible realm of Kashchei, the monster who imprisons women and transforms men into stone. Unaware of the danger, Ivan rambles through the bewitched garden of Kashchei where he meets a dazzling Firebird. Impressed with her beauty, he steals one of her feathers and runs away. He later encounters several beautiful princesses and falls passionately in love with one of them. Not knowing that these beautiful ladies are Kashchei’s prisoners, Ivan follows them to the monster’s castle where he is captured by Kashchei’s monstrous servants. Ivan uses the magical powers of the stolen feather to summon the Firebird. She tells him the secret of Kashchei’s immortality: his spirit is in the form of an egg. Ivan breaks the egg, the monster dies, his magic is dissolved and all those who were in captivity are freed.

Mr. Possokhov took this tale from his native country and created his own version from among other variations. He changed it to include a love triangle. The Firebird loves Prince Ivan but she realizes that she should allow the Prince to be with the Princess he loves.

World Premiere: February 28, 2004, Oregon Ballet Theatre, Keller Auditorium, Portland, Oregon

Kansas City Ballet Premiere: February 19, 2009, Lyric Theatre, Kansas City, Missouri

All Repertory