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Diaghilev Ballet Russe Centenary Celebration 2009

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A number of Diaghilev exhibitions past, present, and future have yet to be noticed in the Western press so I will venture a brief summary.

Schwäne und Feuervögel: die Ballets Russes, 1909 – 1929

Deutsches Theatermuseum, Munich

Feb 18, 2009 – May 24, 2009

Österreichischen Theatermuseum, Vienna

June 25, 2009 – Sept 27, 2009

Catalog by Claudia Jeschke & Nicole Haitzinger

(Leipzig: Henschel, 2009) 176pp

I am listing the contents as this publication seems to have limited distribution. There are many beautifully reproduced illustrations, including several Roerich designs for Sacre du printemps and Gontcharova’s Liturgie and Les noces. I was fascinated to learn about Fokine’s handwritten dancenotation of Oiseau de feu and Les Sylphides, as well as that of Nijinska for Les noces. I wonder what other Diaghilev ballets may have been notated by their creators?


by Claudia Jeschke und Nicole Haitzinger

Russische Bildwelten in Bewegung

by Nicole Haitzinger

Russische Bildwelten in Bewegung – Bewegungstexte

by Claudie Jeschke

Nijinsky und Cecchetti. Zur Aufzeichnung von Ballet-Exercises

by Ann Hutchinson Guest & Claudia Jeschke

Liturgie (1915)

by Nicole Haitzinger

Die Geschichte des Balletts Die Hochzeit (Les Noces)

by Evgenia Ilyukhina

Unglückliche Liaison, Unvereinbarkeit der Charaktere oder späte Liebe? Die Ballets Russes und Mitteleuropa

by Gunhild Oberzaucher-Schüller

Stampfen, Wirbeln, wildes Trommeln. Zur Rezeption der Ballets Russes in Wien – Stationen von 1909 bis 1933

by Andrea Amort

»… ein neues Wort in der europäischen Kunst …« Sergei Diaghilew als Vermittler und Propagandist russischer Kultur

by Andreas Wehrmeyer

Wichtige Mitarbeiter der Ballets Russes

by Petra Kraus

Stückbeschreibungen ausgewählter Produktionen

by Petra Kraus

Die Tourneen im Überblick

by Petra Kraus

An exhibition sponsored by the Russian American Cultural Center (in two manifestations) had little direct connection with the Diaghilev company. Unfortunately, the one attributed Ballet Russes design (a Roerich ascribed to Sacre du printemps) is more probably related to some other production.

Hommage to Diaghilev: Enduring Legacy

The Harriman Institute, Columbia University, New York

Mar 31, 2009 – June 30, 2009

Hommage to Diaghilev’s Enduring Legacy

Ana Tzarev Gallery, New York

Sept 17, 2009 – Oct 7, 2009

Catalog by Regina Khidekel

The designs can be viewed at:


A small display of items from the collection of Leon Woidzikowsky turned up in Delaware (!!!)

100th Anniversary of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes

Wilmington, Delaware

May 1, 2009 – May 22, 2009

Some of the collection can be seen at


There are also photos of the current Paris Opéra exhibition.

A pity that the Library of Congress has such limited space to show all the treasures they own. A small selection had to suffice.

Serge Diaghilev and His World: A Centennial Celebration of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes, 1909 – 1929

Library of Congress, Washington DC

June 4, 2009 – Oct 10, 2009

Most of the contents of this exhibition can be viewed at


Italy has thrown its hat into the Ballets Russes arena.

“Les Ballets Russes” alla Scala Milano: Anni Venti

Teatro alla Scala, Milan, Italy

Dec 20, 2009 – Apr 30, 2010

I’ve not encountered any details other than the announcement at


Besides the current Paris Opéra exhibition there are two other Ballet Russes shows in progress in France.

First, an exhibition of costumes for 3 of Diaghilev’s opera productions (Boris Godunov, Khovantchina, Ivan le terrible).

Opéras russes, à l’aube des Ballets Russes 1901 – 1913

Centre National de Costume de Scène et de la Scénographie

Moulins (Auvergne), France

Dec 12, 2009 – May 16, 2010

Catalog by Martine Kahane, Mathias Auclair et Claude Fauque

(Paris: Éditions du Mécène. 2009) 160pp

The second emphasizes companies following in Diaghilev’s wake.

Dans le sillage des Ballets russes (1929 – 1959)

Centre National de la Danse

Pantin, France

Jan 6, 2010 – Apr 10, 2010

Catalog by Florence Poudru

(Paris, 2010) 128pp

There are some illustrations at


Finally, the promised Australian exhibition was rescheduled.

Ballets Russes: The Art of Costume

National Museum of Australia, Canberra

Originally: Dec 4, 2009 – Apr 26, 2010

Now: Dec 10. 2010 – Mar 20, 2011

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From BBC Press Release

The Ballet Russes In England Ep 1/2

Tuesday 23 February

11.30am-12.00 noon BBC RADIO 4

Sergei Diaghilev's Ballets Russes is associated with its exotic Parisian premières, but the company performed in England more than anywhere else.

In this short series, Jane Pritchard, Curator Of Dance at the Victoria And Albert Museum, draws on evidence from the museum's archive to show how little of Britain's dance history can be taken for granted.

In the first programme, What Did Britain Do For Diaghilev?, Jane traces 20 years of the Ballets Russes in England via receipts, telegrams, costumes and letters. She explores the company's tours and how they triumphed, went bankrupt, survived rats, Spanish flu, a revolving stage, variety seasons when they danced between talented dogs and Grock the clown, and an audience which had never seen anything like it.

The second programme asks, What Did Diaghilev Do For Britain? In 1929 Diaghilev was dead. How would the bereft dancers, composer and artists – and audiences – who'd gathered around the Ballets Russes in London, keep his ideals alive?

From small beginnings, British and Irish ex-Diaghilev dancers went on to found our three major ballet companies. Former character dancers, like Alexander Grant, describe how the ballets were handed on by the company's Russian exiles. And dance lovers and dance makers try to get to the root of our ongoing romance with Diaghilev's Russian ballet.

Presenter/Jane Pritchard, Producer/Frances Byrnes

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Link to program - active for a few days only.

Thank you innopac. Goodness knows why I did not think of posting the link.

For those who have never heard Karsavina speak it is a rare treat.

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In the course of my Ballets Russes pilgrimage last November I viewed the two exhibitions in St Petersburg. While I was happy to have seen them, neither was equal to those of Stockholm or Moscow.

The posters announcing Dance: To the 100th Anniversary of Sergey Diaghilev’s Russian Seasons in Paris at the State Hermitage Museum were all over the city. Finding the actual display in the labyrinth of the Hermitage was another thing, however. In fact, I walked right through it the first time thinking what I saw was in some way a teaser for the real thing. But that was it: a handful of original costume designs and a score of production photographs thrown on a wall with little thought of identifying in any detail what you were looking at. No catalog, no brochure, not even a Xeroxed flier. None of the photos were unknown to me (a couple were more probably Maryinsky productions). The nine (yes, NINE !) original designs were a delight but after the poster build-up I felt a little short-changed. For the curious I append a list:

Benois: Le Pavillon d’Armide: set design

Benois: Giselle: 2 costume designs

Benois: Petrushka: 2 costume designs

Bakst: Narcisse: 2 costume designs

Ansifeld: Sadko: 2 costume designs

There were also 4 costume designs by the last-named for Pavlova’s Seven Daughters of the Mountain King (1912).

Diaghilev was the focus of another, much larger, exhibition at The Russian Museum (Benois Wing) entitled Diaghilev, The Beginning. This exhibition, occupying 5 large galleries, focused on the early career of Diaghilev as the producer of several Russian art exhibitions (1898 – 1905). While nothing in this notable exhibition related to the Ballets Russes in particular or the dance in general, everything informed the viewer about the evolution of artistic taste that took place in the mind of the young Diaghilev and the artistic and aristocratic contacts that he cultivated. The very size of the art exhibitions he produced was staggering! Aside from the question of his artistic choices it became obvious Diaghilev had organizational skills that were unequalled.

A nicely-produced volume of essays and reproductions was issued in conjunction with the exhibition in both Russian and English editions:

Diaghilev: The Beginning

Edited by Evgenia Petrova

(St Petersburg: Palace Editions, 2009), 255pp

Teriffic scholarship but nothing on the Ballets Russes. I think only of interest to the completist (or fanatic?).

PHENBY (who must be a fanatic to travel around the world to see Ballets Russes exhibitions)

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Thank you, Amy. I couldn't tear myself away and watched the whole show. It was very well done, with a wide variety of commentators, and drawing on several different companies for clips (including the Joffrey with Nureyev in Faune).

One point I hadn't previously considered, that during its first London (?) season, the great hit of Diaghilev's BR was Polovtsian Dances, satisfying the audience's desire for Russian primitivism. Le Sacre du Printemps was a we-can-top-that response aimed at fanning the same embers. We've all heard how it succeeded! And of course, Les Noces is another example of this new genre.

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It drew my attention to the Princess de Polignac... quite the patroness!! I'm very impressed with the Singer family... between sponsoring Isadora Duncan & Serge Diaghilev... the dance world is considerably in their debt...

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Christopher Cook and Sarah Woodcock discuss a costume designed by Nicholas Roerich for the Rite of Spring (2004 audio)


A new perfume has been commissioned to coincide with the opening of the Diaghilev exhibition at the V@A in September



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Thanks much for the alert about the blog.

I have a practical question. I tried (from the States) to purchase a ticket to the exhibit, on Oct. 6, so that I can attend Jane Pritchard's Curator's Talk..... and the purchase would not go through. Does anyone have any suggestions????? Please????

And thanks.

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Have you tried the booking telephone number for ticket problems?


Otherwise there are some other general and booking related telephone/e-mail contacts on the web-site (they come up when you double-click on "contact us" at the bottom of the page)

Also, interview at Theatre Voice (audio)

"Diaghilev special: Jane Pritchard, Curator of Dance at the V&A, talks to Carole Woddis about Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes, the upcoming V&A exhibition which marks the centenary of the Ballets Russes, including items relating to The Firebird (1910) and The Rite of Spring (1913). She also describes the V&A's Theatre and Performance Collection, located at Blythe House. More info: www.vam.ac.uk"


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The V&A has produced a wealth of virtual material for the exhibition - it's been fun to compare the film/images of the London exhibition against those of the Edinburgh and Monaco exhibitions.

The V@A channel's a useful link - it contains some video on music, choreography and conservation


Birmingham Royal Ballet's website has an overview of Natalia Goncharova written by Jane Pritchard


Finally, the National Gallery of Australia's exhibition opens in December


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