Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

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In the history of twentieth-century ballet, no company has had so profound and far-reaching an influence as the Ballets Russes. It existed for only twenty years--from 1909 to 1929--but in that brief period it transformed ballet into a vital, modern art. The Ballets Russes created the first of this century's classics: Les Sylphides, Firebird, Petrouchka, L'Apres-midi d'un Faune, Le Sacre du Printemps, Parade, Les Noces, Les Biches, Apollo, and Prodigal Son, all of which continue to be performed today. It nurtured many of the century's greatest choreographers--Fokine, Nikinsky, Massine, Nijinska, and Balanchine--and through them influenced the direction of dance to this day. It brokered the century's most remarkable marriages between dance and the other arts, forging partnerships between composers such as Stravinsky, Debussy, Falla, Ravel, Prokofiev, and Satie, painters like Picasso, Bakst, Matisse, Derain, Braque, Gris and Rouault, and poets on the order of Hoffmansthal and Cocteau. From the dancers who passed through its ranks emerged the teachers and ballet masters who continued its work in cities large and small throughout the West. And, as if all this were not enough, the company also created a following for ballet that anticipated today's popular audiences. The era of the Ballets Russes is probably the most chronicled in dance history, yet this book is the first to explain the company as a totality--its art, enterprise, and audience. Taking a fresh look at familiar sources and incorporating fascinating archival material previously unexamined by Diaghilev scholars, Lynn Garafola paints an extraordinary portrait of the Ballets Russes, one that is bound to upset received opinion about the wellsprings and impact of early modernism. She traces the company's origins not only from Diaghilev and his circle but also from Fokine's revolutionary secession within the Russian Imperial Ballet, shows for the first time how the art of the Ballets Russes reflected its status as a complex economic enterprise, and reveals how Diaghilev created an audience that in turn shaped his company's changing identity. It is an amazing story with characters from all walks of life--titans of art, grandes dames of Continental society, anonymous stagehands, long-forgotten dancers, and theater managers from Monte Carlo to Tacoma--and Garafola tells it brilliantly. Anyone interested in our century's dance, music, art, fashion, and cultural history will have to read it."show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 542 pages
  • 147.32 x 236.22 x 43.18mm | 1,065.94g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195057015
  • 9780195057010

Review Text

During the 20 years of its active life, the Ballets Russes, formed by the impresario Serge Diaghilev, had an enormous affect not only on ballet but on art, theatre design, music, dress design, make-up... In the most complete account of the company's history, the author deals with a spectacular cast: not only the greatest dancers and choreographers of their time (Nijinsky, Massine, Karsavina, Fokine, Pavlova), but also composers (Stravinsky, Poulenc, Ravel), authors (Cocteau, the Sitwells, Lytton Strachey) and designers (Benois, Laurencin, Picasso). She is particularly good on the ballet's impact on the society of London and Paris, and on the bewilderingly complex ramifications of Diaghilev's attempts to remain solvent. This was the most exciting theatre company of its time, whose ballets continue to be performed today, and this book is an absolute must for all balletomanes - indeed for anyone interested in the arts in the 20th century. (Kirkus UK)show more

About Lynn Garafola

About the author: Lynn Garafola is a dance critic and historian living in New York.show more

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32 ratings
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