One of the greatest 19th-century classical choreographers, Marius Petipa was born in France in 1818. In 1847 he went to St Petersburg as a principal dancer with the Imperial Ballet and stayed with the company until his death in 1910. He made his debut as a choreographer in 1849. 20 years later he took charge of the Maryinski Company, producing for them his greatest works: La Bayadère (1877), The Sleeping Beauty (1890), Swan Lake (jointly with Lev Ivanov, 1895) and Raymonda (1898). Petipa's supreme talent was for the composition of classical dances that also enhance the action by conveying an emotion or an idea. Under his rule the Maryinsky Ballet grew into the grandest and most polished company in the world and preserved the great tradition of ballet at a time when it had practically died out as an art elsewhere.