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Diaghilev and Ballet Russes – V&A Museum London

Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes on show at the V&A Museum.

Sunday, 3rd October 2010 – David Franchi

“Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballet Russes 1909-1929” is an impressive exhibition that reveals the importance of Diaghilev as impresario and artistic director of his “total theatre” an amazing combination of dance, music and art. It is an exhibition with more than 300 objects and popular material showed in a chronological order.

At the V&A Museum there is a vast collection of Ballet Russes and Diaghilev. Ballet Russes collaborated with famous choreographer, artists and designers. New music scores were commissioned for nearly half of the Ballets Russes: music was crucial, so it was put around the visitors at the show. The exhibition begins with Diaghilev’s life in St. Petersburg, proceeds to a deconstruction of the ballet through inspiration, choreography, music and creation of the sets, next is the difficult moment during the War and a final gallery about the 1920s a period when he had achieved great status.

This superb exhibition gives to anyone the chance to deepen the knowledge about Sergei Pavlovich “Serge” Dyagilev and the Ballet Russes in an intense manner with more than 300 objects and popular material that gives a global glimpse.

Designs and colours used in Ballet Russes created a new aesthetic in the twentieth century. The exhibition is a chronologically ordered digression on the Ballet Russes, from the origins to Diaghilev’s death in 1929 in Venice, where he’s still nearby buried. Ballet was a declined art across Europe and America at that time but Diaghilev transformed it.

This major retrospective will celebrate Diaghilev enduring influence on 20th–century art and design including objects from the V&A’s own unrivalled collection and from a variety of lenders. Jane Pritchard curator – together with Geoffrey Marsh –explains the reason why this exhibition was opened: “At the V&A Museum we have Britain’s major collection of theatre and performance materials and we have a vast collection of Ballet Russes. We have the largest collection of costumes in the world from Diaghilev’s company. And we also have very expensive collection of designs, drawings and archives. So two thirds of the exhibition comes from our own collection and the rests are loans.

So it seems very appropriate that we should do an exhibition on the Ballet Russes”. The ballet uses the human body to express story and emotions. Then an interesting part of the show analyse the elements of the production of a ballet: inspiration, choreography, music and sets. “In the third gallery which is our central gallery we do much more deconstructing what goes into a ballet. So we’re looking at the ideas, the choreography, the music and the sets. People who come to the V&A Museum tends to have a general interest in the arts, they maybe have not great ideas about dance in particular” Jane Pritchard said. Ballet Russes had five main choreographers Mikhail Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Leonide Massine, Branislava Nijinska and the young George Balanchine. Particularly Nijinsky, on one side his dances reflect the Expressionism art, but also he was Diaghilev lover for many years, followed by Massine. On show the original works of the many artists and designers that collaborated with Diaghilev to create sets, costumes, props and cloths including Leon Bakst, Alexandre Benois, Coco Chanel, Jean Cocteau, Giorgio De Chirico, Natalia Goncharova, Tamara Karsavina, Mikhail Larionov, Serge Lifar, Henri Matisse, Nicholas Roerich, Misia Sert, and Auguste Rodin. Amazing the huge front cloth for Le Train Bleu, an example of the collaborations with Pablo Picasso, who also married a company dancer Olga Kokholva.

The superb music had a vital role in the Ballet Russes.

New scores were commissioned by Diaghilev mainly from leading Russian and French composer for nearly half of these ballet including Stravinsky, Prokofiev, Debussy, Ravel, De Falla, Respighi, Satie and Poulenc. Specifically created for the show footages of composer and broadcaster Howard Goodall explaining the development of music accompanying the Ballets Russes. It is also possible to see videos about creating a mini- choreography so could understand what choreography is. “Because we also feel that music is crucial has brought to the Ballet Russes how’s the ballets has new music written for that. If you just put music in the background now, people don’t pay attention to it. So we used to put music around us. We acknowledged the British composer, he is also a podcaster, Howard Goodall to make four AVs explain what’s happening and music in that shows is Mussorgsky and Stravinsky and Debussy. How is about to composing of the dance and the importance of the Firebird composed in the 1920” Jane Pritchard said. The exhibition begins with Diaghilev’s life in St. Petersburg. With an overview of the dance scene the first gallery tells the story of the Ballets Russes up to the outbreak of War in 1914, including a rich array of costumes designed by Bakst. The second gallery will take visitors behind the scenes of the Ballets Russes’ productions their inspiration, choreography, music and creation of the sets.

The exhibition will look at how the Ballets Russes survived during the War having been cut off from their roots in Russia with little access to the cities they performed in before 1914.

The final gallery will present Diaghilev and his company in the 1920s a period when he had achieved great status in European culture. The works of artists, authors and musicians he knew or was associated with will be shown – including manuscripts by Joyce, Proust and Eliot. Diaghilev’s dedication to pushing boundaries and collaborating with the best designers, choreographers and artists of his time left an inspiring legacy.

An interesting bit of trivia is that even a perfume was created by Chyphré dedicated to Diaghilev.

Today the V&A Museum proposes again, in limited edition, “Diaghilev” a fragrance by Roja Dove. The exhibition isn’t an end in itself, there are also other related events like talk and tours, courses and workshops, study day and young people and families.

Internet details: www.vam.ac.uk/exhibitions/future_exhibs/diaghilev/index.html

Published for: www.italoeuropeo.co.uk

Direct link: http://www.italoeuropeo.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=3256:-diaghilevs-ballet-russes-on-show-at-the-vaa-museum&catid=53:artsarte&Itemid=214


Written by davidfranchi

November 14, 2010 at 7:36 pm

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