If the first half of the display showed Russian theater from a macro lens, here we were given the opportunity to peer into the intimate life of one ballet company, and the world of Petipa. His company was seen as a tight-knit club (rather like a reality TV show), with a defined set of characters. On the wall we can see caricatures of the main cast, depicting each member with her flaws and defining features. These gems were created by the Legat brothers, who were choreographers and followers of Petipa. Among the characters, there were rivalries and love affairs, friends and enemies.
One of the portraits is a less-than-flattering depiction of Mathilde Kschessinska, the mistress of Tsar Nicholas II and the subject of the controversial 2017 film “Mathilde.” She is shown with beady eyes, wide-spaced teeth, awkwardly long arms, and a goat trailing behind her. Petipa, in his diaries, notably called her a pig. When she found out she was not going to have a lead role in “Pearl,” she convinced a powerful friend to intervene on her behalf, which he successfully accomplished. On an adjacent wall, a document shows the names of the entire cast for one ballet,with a number next to each name. The number, Katya explained, was the amount of sweets each dancer would receive for a successful performance, in pounds. In the top spot was Kschessinska, where a three had been crossed out, replaced by a four.