Imperial Russia Meme | B A L L E T O R B A L L E R I N A | The Ballets Russes
Serge Pavlovich Diaghilev, Серге́й Па́влович Дя́гилев, Serge de Diaghileff, Sergey Dyaguileff, dictator, devil, charlatan, sorcerer, charmer - all names of a single man whose unique character and driving ambition caused a ferment in European culture. Diaghilev’s greatest achievement was his dance company - the Ballets Russes. Created a century ago, the productions of the Ballets Russes revolutionised early 20th-century arts and continue to influence cultural activity today.
On 19 May 1909, after weeks of publicity, Diaghilev launched his first season of Russian ballet in Paris. Audiences were dazzled by the dancing and striking designs. Over the next few seasons a self-consciously Russian element dominated the productions. Innovative music magnified their impact, in particular that of Igor Stravinsky. The company’s principal choreographer was the Russian dancer Mikhail Fokine. Visually, the first Ballets Russes seasons were marked by the exotic designs of the Russian-born artist Léon Bakst. His bejewelled colours, swirling Art Nouveau elements and sense of the erotic re-envisioned dance productions as total works of art.
Ballet uses the human body to express story and emotion. Given this basic character, ballet tends to explore strong simple stories which may also provide opportunities for dancers to display their virtuosity. While the dances performed by the Ballets Russes appeared revolutionary, they drew on existing traditions of ballet production. As the driving force of the company, Diaghilev gathered a wide range of composers, choreographers, designers and performers, but maintained ultimate control over every aspect of the productions. His greatest achievement was to ensure the close integration of story, music, choreography and design, creating spectacles where the overall impact surpassed the parts. From the start, Diaghilev’s ambition was to generate entirely new ballets rather than repeat others’ successes. Typically, each Ballets Russes season might include two or three new productions and their creation, often protracted, took up a large proportion of his time and energy.
The repertoire of the Ballets Russes remains an invaluable resource for choreographers today. Over 200 different versions of The Rite of Spring have been choreographed since Diaghilev commissioned it. Diaghilev’s achievements continue to inspire the worlds of art, theatre, music and dance. [X]
"An electric shock passed through the entire audience. Intoxicated, entranced, gasping for breath, we followed this superhuman being… the power, the featherweight lightness, the steel-like strength, the suppleness of his movements.." Romola Pulszky about Nijinsky