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Significant centenaries in 2011

Costume design by Léon Bakst for Papillon in Le Carnaval a ballet included in the first performance by the Ballets Russes in London in 1911.V&A Images On the eve of 2011 it is appropriate to remind readers of this blog that the year includes two particularly significant centenaries. Nijinsky as Albrecht in Giselle Act II Photo Bert (V&A Images) 6 April is the centenary of the first performance of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. The first performance by the actual companywas presented at the Monte Carlo Opera House and the programme was Giselle paired with Schéhérazade. Five dancers posing in costumes from …

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Where is Apollo?

Serge Lifar and Alexandra Danilova as Apollo and Terpsichore in Apollon musagète, 1928. Photo Sacha, V&A images One of the on-going complaints about the exhibition (well there have to be some!) is the lack or absence of material on Apollon musagète which, I will happily acknowledge, was one of the greatest creations of Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes. Also there are complaints about the minimal amount on Apollo’s choreographer George Balanchine. I do not agree that Balanchine is treated any less favourably than his choreographic colleagues except in that we do not show any of his choreography on our screens. The exhibition …

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More on Diaghilev and the film industry

Carlotta Brianza as Carabosse with her entourage of rats in the opening scene of The Sleeping Princess 1921 @ V&A Images Following on from the entry A treat on screen and the interest aroused in the footage of Lydia Lopokova and the failure to film The Sleeping Princess in colour and with synchronised music described by Henry Miller in The Guardian here is a little more about Diaghilev’s dancers and film. Diaghilev was clearly nervous about film – was it because of the quality or was it because he resented any ‘copying’ of his productions? Whatever the reason, clause 23 …

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Diaghilev 1954 (again) – Times change

As I continue to get so many requests for information about Richard Buckle’s The Diaghilev Exhibition at Forbes House exhibition I thought I’d share with you a few further images of that memorable display because it is so different from Diaghilev and the Golden Age of the Ballets Russes 1909-1929. Gallery 1 showed the three large posters now in our exhibition – with the Serov image of Pavlova (1909) and the two 1913 posters for the Théâtre des Champs-Elyssés with Cocteau’s Le Spectre de la rose drawings in a setting by Eric Richie. A quick look at the Buckle catalogue …

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A treat on screen

I am still getting complains why don’t we include film of Nijinsky dancing in the exhibition. My response is if I’d found such film, unless it was truly ghastly, I’d have included it. However on the film front Henry Miller has an interesting article on the guardian’s film blog: This refers to the proposed film of The Sleeping Princess in 1921-22 which was never realised. What is most interesting is that Henry has identified a further segment of Dancing Grace showing Lydia Lopokova dancing in her Can-can costume from La Boutique Fantasque. In the BF&TVA’s version from Eve’s Film …

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Three Guests (but were they wise men?)

Design by Léon Bakst for Felicita in The Good-Humoured Ladies (1917) V&A images Happy Christmas! Its taken me a long time to notice that on the Christmas Tree in the Sackler Centre (the V&A’s home of L&I) many of the ‘presents’ include copies of the famous poster image of Vaslav Nijinsky as the Spirit of the rose. Does this mean that Father Christmas has a supply of Ballets Russes treasures to deliver? The image by Jean Cocteau was created for the 1911 season in Monte Carlo when the Ballets Russes as a Company was first formed although the version of …

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Ballets Russes photos

Postcard showing photograph by Bassano of Tamara Karsavina and Adolph Bolm in The Firebird It is so satisfying when everything links up. I go to the Canaletto at the National Gallery and cannot escape the fact that Venice was Diaghilev’s favourite city. I see The Glasgow Boys at the Royal Academy and I am aware that it was the World of Art Group led by Diaghilev who introduced their work to Russian viewers. OK I am a bit mentally stuck in one world but anyone seeing the Bassano display at the National Portrait Gallery which runs through until 24 July …

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Aesthetic Peacocks

The idea for a major exhibition about the Aesthetic Movement was first discussed almost five years ago so there is certainly lots to fill you in on. Through this blog I want to give you a sense, not just of our current work as we approach the final stages of exhibition planning and object installation, but also how the exhibition has evolved so far. My first few posts will be about how the objects for the exhibition were initially selected and the work of the designers who have helped to make the exhibition a reality. Working on this project has …

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Political or inspirational

The imperial robes arrived in London on 19th November. When they came out of the crates every member of the installation team was stunned by their beauty. This was not the first time I saw them in the flesh, but each piece still filled me with profound admiration. The skill of the Chinese weavers and embroiderers was out of this world. One has to see them to believe that such craftsmanship was possible Packing at the Palace Museum and installation at the V&A Journalists have expressed a great deal of interest in the way the robes were preserved. The garments …

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