Michel Fokine or Mikhail Mikhailovich Fokin (April 23 1880 – August 22, 1942) was a groundbreaking Russian choreographer and dancer.
He was born in St.Petersburg and at the age of 9 he was accepted into the St. Petersburg theatrical school. In 1898 he debuted on the stage of the Maryinsky theatre in the ballet Pakhit; in 1902 he became a teacher in ballet school.
Fokine aspired to move beyond stereotypical ballet traditions. Virtuoso ballet techniques to him were not an end in themselves, but a means of expression. He presented his reformist ideas to the management of the Imperial theatre, but did not win their support.
Some of his early works include the ballet Acis and Galatea (1905) and The Dying Swan (1907), which was a solo dance for Anna Pavlova.
In 1909 Sergei Diaghilev invited Fokine to become the choreographer of his Ballets Russes in Paris. However, Fokine broke off the collaboration in 1912, jealous of Diaghilev‘s close association with Vaslav Nijinsky.
He staged more than 70 ballets in Europe and the United States. His best known works were Chopiniana (later revised as Les Sylphides), Le Carnaval and Le Pavillon d‘Armide. Among his works for the Ballets Russes were The Firebird and Le Spectre de la Rose.
Fokine died in New York on August 22, 1942. His pieces are still performed by the leading ballet troupes of the world.