His mentors and teachers that helped him start his amazing career of a dancer were also the best that Russian ballet could offer. Gerdt’s first teacher was Alexander Pimenov who himself was a student of the Father of Russian ballet - Charles Didelot. His next teacher was Jean Petipa, famous ballet dancer, father of probably the second person of importance after Didelot for Russian ballet - Marius Petipa. Old Jean in his youth underwent extensive training by the giant of the French ballet Auguste Vestris.
Paul Gerdt was quite an eccentric, nobody at the theater knew how old he was. When asked, he would give one and the same response, claiming that he was 23 years old. He excelled not only in dancing but in teaching as well. He left after himself the whole brilliant team of students among which there were Anna Pavlova, George Balanchine, Michel Fokin, Tamara Karsavina and Vaslav Nijinsky. It is interesting to note that Michel Fokin trained Gerdt’s daughter - great ballerina Elizaveta Gerdt. And Vaslav Nijinsky was Elizaveta’s partner in ballet dancing.
If you could ask any Russian ballet fan of the 19th who is his favorite male ballet dancer, there would come up only one name - Paul Gerdt. He spent fifty six years on the ballet stage and performed in the roles of nearly every lead male character of famous Russian ballets. For his extraordinary ballet technique and dancing Paul Gerdt received the mot prestigious title of the Premier Danseur of all three significant theaters in the tsarist Russia: the Imperial Ballet, The Bolshoy Kammeny Theater and Mariinsky Theater.
Gerdt had the unusual longevity for any male ballet dancer: he was born in 1844, started performing very young and retired one year before his death in 1917. Public loved and worshiped him. In addition, to his brilliant career and titles, audience nicknamed him Blue Cavalier. Admiring public also awarded him with another title: the Prince of Saint Petersburg stage. This was true enough because Paul Gerdt was the first to dance Prince Siegfried in Swan Lake, Prince Desire in Sleeping Beauty, and Prince Coqueluche in The Nutcracker.