The beginning of the end

Sadly those slashes are appearing on advertisements for the exhibition which say ‘last week’. Visitors are, nevertheless, flocking including a number from overseas either taking advantage of the ‘holiday period’ or rushing in at the eleventh hour when the cost of flights drops. We do like their enthusiasm and remarks such as that from a Canadian visitor who said ‘This is one of the most powerful/beautiful exhibitions I’ve ever been to. Thanks to my beloved V&A.’ We also just had a lovely review from Germany, ‘The exhibition is the culmination of all the Diaghilev exhibitions focussing on the 100 year anniversary. Even people who claim to know everything about Diaghilev’s company will have learnt new aspects in the exhibition and through the book’.

     

Lydia Lopokova with George Balanchine as Kaschchei and with Serge Lifar as the Tsarevitch in The Firebird,both press photographs are taken against the backcloth for the final scene, note the distinct kremlin walls.

I continue to get asked about my favourite object which I find hard, but I still think the ‘Firebird experience’ is a real highlight. Its interesting a both the cloth and the AV around it was very much where our discussions about the whole exhibition began. The Firebird is a ballet that always arouses interest and the whole issue of the costumes worn at different times is complicated. I thought therefore I’d just share with you two images of Lydia Lopokova (who had earned the sobriquet of ‘London’s favourite ballerina’) as she appeared in 1926 at the premiere of the Goncharova-designed production in trousers and top, an outfit which is wonderfully modern in appearance. The alternative casts (Alexandra Danilova and Felia Doubrovska) wore tutus but not Lydia. These press clippings come from the Theatre & Performance Collections research collection and those wanting to discover specific details about the Ballets Russes after the closure of the exhibition may wish to make appointments to use the Theatre & Performance Reading Room. The V&A’s web site, of course, keeps you up-to date with the department’s activities and provides a useful introduction for those undertaking all aspects of theatre research.

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