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Happy Centennial Ballets Russes! Raise a glass to toast of Paris

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A friend passed this on a few weeks ago, from John & Carol Gaston:

Subject: 100th anniversary of the Ballets Russes.

As most of us know a number of U.S. ballet companies are celebrating Diaghilev's Ballets Russes this year. ...[snipped...] One-hundred years ago this Tuesday, May 19th @ 1:30 p.m. Central Daylight Time (8:30 p.m. Paris time), Diaghilev's Russian Ballet performed for the first time in public @ the Theatre du Chatelet to the social, artistic, and intellectual elite of Paris. From that day forward began the rise of ballet as a twentieth-century art form. Many great ballet figures, too numerous to name, were directly or indirectly affected by Diaghilev and his Ballets Russes. A new book has just been published on the subject, Joy Melville's _Diaghilev and Friends_ (London: Haus Publishing, 2009), available from amazon.com. Ms. Melville is a British journalist, but she pieces together most of the writings about the company published from the early 1930s onward. It is a good overview with few errors in it. I recommend it as a good primer for your students who might be interested in this period. I remember that in the early 1960s at TCU David Preston re-staged Diaghilev's production of Rimsky-Korsakov's opera, "Le Coq d'Or, with the original dancing as conceived by Diaghilev and Mikhail Fokine, the first such staging of the opera since the Ballets Russes danced it. That staging was my introduction to Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. What was yours? So, I suggest at 1:30 p.m., Tuesday, May 19th, each of us pause (perhaps raise a glass as shall I) and think what we owe

to Marius Petipa, Lev Ivanov, Serge Diaghilev, Mikhail Fokine, and George Balanchine all because of Diaghilev on that night in Paris a century ago as the curtain rose. Then, perhaps, we should contemplate what our lives would have been like had not Diaghilev resurrected the art of ballet, and the ballet as an art form had never come into our lives.

Sincerely, John and Carol Gaston.

P.S. Indirectly, we are all heirs of the Ballets Russes, and our lives are the better for it, are they not?

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