This is a review I wrote for the Friends of Connecticut Ballet Newsletter:
Several Friends of Connecticut Ballet went to the Wadsworth Antheneum to see
the Ballet Russe Collection owned by the Wadsworth. The exhibition included
real costumes worn by Nijinsky and the Ballet Russe, along with costume and
set drawings. This exhibition is part of the Centennial anniversary of
Diaghilev's Ballet Russe company. In the 1940 Wadsworth Director Chick Austin
purchased drawings, costumes, and posters for 10,000 dollars. The Wadsworth is
now the de facto center of research for Ballet Russe.
included drawings by Joan Miro, Picasso, Matisse (no, not our wonderful
Company dancer from Hartford!), Baskt, and others. Drawings were hung next to
original costumes, one could see repairs and stains that all ballet costumes
go through. I spoke to a retired curator at the Wadsworth, and mentioned how
different current ballet costumes are: the hand work was amazing, everything
was hand painted and embroidered, no sequins and sparkly bits.
Several Ballets Russe performances were shown on projection screens, including
L¹Après-midi d¹un faune, Firebird, Petrushka, and Le Sacre de Printemps.
In another Gallery, I had a brief moment to see Couture inspired by The
Ballets Russe including drawings by Erte', and fashion inspired by
"Orientalism." Certainly worth a few moments to view. So much to see, so
After a delightful, but brief, dinner in the museum cafe, (One of our servers
danced with the Hartford Ballet!) We proceeded down to the Historic Aetna
Theater, A basement theater with and Art Deco wall paintings that reminded me
of Cavemen drawings in France. The theater is doubly significant as it is the
first American stage George Balanchine performed on, with the Wadsworth
sponsoring "Mr. B's" immigration to America.
We attended a short discussion by NY Times Ballet Critic Alistair Macaulay,
who discussed the history of the Ballets Russe and the relationships between
Diaghilev and his Dancers. Alistair discussed the scandal that accompanied
Nijinsky and the Company and the influence the company had on ballet since.
More details about the Centennial celebrations are in the current issue of
Forbes Life Magazine:
A copy is in the Periodical room of the Darien Library, which has some exceptional photographs.
The Wadsworth exhibition continues through 12 July 2009, and the Costume
exhibition until 2 August 2009. The New York Public Library for the Performing
Arts in Lincoln Center will have an Exhibition from June 26 through September
12 (www.nypl.org/research/lpa). The Friends of the Connecticut Ballet and
Director Brett Raphael will attend a performance of ABT's Swan Lake in June,
I'm planning on including extra time to visit the Exhibition at the NYPL
across the plaza.
My friends and I enjoyed the evening and all agreed we would do it again.