The Ballets Russes has been back on the road. Last Friday I gave a presentation about Diaghilev and the V&A’s exhibition at the Rosehill Theatre outside Whitehaven. The Rosehill is described as a ‘rose-red, silk lined jewel box theatre’ and it lives up to this. It was founded by Sir Nicholas Seker of the West Cumberland Silk Mills, designed by Oliver Messel and opened in 1959. The Theatre & Performance Collections of the V&A, which hold the Oliver Messel Archive have built up links with this theatre and lent them a selection of Messel designs to display. There are also interesting Ballets Russes links for Oliver Messel designed masks for the revised production of Zéphyr et Flore in London and when Richard Buckle’s 1954 exhibition, Diaghilev , transferred from Edinburgh to Forbes House, London, ‘Miki ‘ Sekker provided specially woven fabric for the canopy over Sleeping Beauty’s bed.
Today I gave a presentation at the Everyman Theatre, Cheltenham, as part of the Cheltenham Literature Festival. What an efficiently run festival! The last time I spoke at the Everyman was when I gave a pre-performance talk for English National Ballet in my pre V&A existence. It made me think how lucky I was to have so much experience of public speaking to fairly general audiences so I am no longer terrified when faced with a large audience.
Felia Doubrovska in La Pastorale (this costume is in the exhibition)
From one event to the next. Tonight sees the last screening of the From the Ballets Russes season held over six weeks at the bfi southbank (National Film Theatre). Tonight’s programme highlights the greatest ballet creation of the Ballets Russes, Les Noces, and the career of ballerina Felia Doubrovska. Doubrovska was one of Diaghilev’s most important dancers in the 1920s. Tall and elegant she inspired both Bronislava Nijinska and George Balanchine and her fine technique and willingness to experiment enhanced their ability to extend academic ballet.