Can’t remember anything more inspiring in recent years as this one… The two words “Ballets Russes” was on my mind for a while, but I had been too lazy to google what it really was…until my last visit to Paris where I went to see the great exhibition of Picasso, until a book I’m reading about Mark Chagall, where Western culture didn’t take him very seriously until all things Russian became a top trend…partly or almost mainly thanks to Ballets Russes (1909-1929).
While I was looking round web, reading, exploring, from all the stories I liked this one the best – written by the Guardian in 2009. It tells the whole “bio” in short, placing Serge Diaghilev as the main figure who gathered the whole society and took performing art on a much higher level. The Ballets Russes had revitalised the art of dance: it was not only a part of emerging artistic movements – primitivism, surrealism, cubism, constructivism, neoclassicism – it was a driving force behind them. It was the first company to introduce the triple-bill format of one-act ballets; the first ballet company to rely on sales and sponsorship rather than patronage. Above all, it showed that dance can be a serious contemporary art. Combined with great art and music to make total theatre, the Ballets Russes proved that dance could lead audiences rather than chase them.
Of course, what interests me here the most is collaborations with best artists, designers of the time who worked in the design of sets and costumes. Diaghilev managed to sign contracts with Alexandre Benois, Leon Bakst, Nicholas Roerich, Georges Braque, Pablo Picasso, Coco Chanel, Henri Matisse, Andre Derain, Joan Miro, Salvador Dali and many others. One of the most scandalous was Stravinsky’s The Rite of Spring that had a provocative aesthetics of the costumes.
I’m in love.
Don’t miss this nice doc narrated by Tilda Swinton.