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Nijinsky

The Nijinsky case is being filled today. This includes both costumes we know he danced in and two mysteries – perhaps they will be solved by visitors. We have two versions of the costume for the Prince in Le Festin  – why? The first was made in Russiaand is very worn – how did Nijinsky […]

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The lights go on

The big excitement today is the arrival of the lighting team. Sudden the area we call ‘the prop store’ is not just a black hole. Not only is the exhibition beginning to be lit but the old theatre lights are being inserted in the display. From the start I felt we need to include old lights as throughout the C20th lighting for dance has been important. The Ballets Russes was a company that pioneered new theatrical lighting and at times when he was asked what he did Diaghilev would respond ‘I supervise the lighting’. Of course he did a great …

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Strikes and Films

Wooden figure designed for Cyril Beaumont by Ethelbert White showing Massine in the Can-Can (the figure is used for a magnet design by V&A Enterprises) Strike day. Never mind two buses co-operated so I was at the museum by 7amso had a blissful hour and a half to catch up with business before we start […]

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Day 3

The third day of installation and a few cases are complete and some of the walls are hung with posters, designs and drawings. Even unlit The Sleeping Princess looks stunning. The positioning of each mannequin is a slow process as they are slightly twisted so it becomes clearer which work together as a group. Where the trains reach the floor carefully cut Melinex has to be inserted between fabric and floor. At mid-day designer, Tim Hatley arrived to position the costumes and screens on the central plinth. These will be on open display. We are very aware that costumes look …

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‘On yer bike’

Today is the first day of installation of the objects – an exciting moment as one wonders just how everything will really look. We begin with challenges to get the 1909 poster with Serov’s wonderful drawing of Anna Pavlova into one case and Boris Godunov’s wonderful robes into another. The poster just fits through the door but there is a problem with Boris. We have lost his head! Sarah says she know where it must be in the Theatre & Performance Collections at Blythe House so hops on her bike and cycles to Olympia. She returns to the galleries with …

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Graphics

Thursday 26 August Today the graphics were checked and large contextual images elements positioned. Are they the correct height for the average visitor to view comfortably? Are they legible? At what angle should the portrait of Diaghilev be on the opening panel? The map of Russia near the entrance is now sorted and, thanks to Sarah’s now encyclopaedic knowledge of the Trans-Siberian Railway, it shows the train’s original route and not the current one. As we were going round the galleries it was impossible to resist the chance to peak behind the Tyvek covers to see the Firebird backcloth in …

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Late – or early?

Yet another e-mail has arrivedfrom a kind person saying that the V&A is late in mounting their exhibition. I’ve been receiving these ever since the exhibition’s dates were announced. Well exact dates to mark the birth of a company are usually dictated by company propaganda and it is always worth looking at what is being celebrated. Diaghilev’s ‘Saisons Russes’ began in Paris in 1906 with his exhibition of Russian artfollowed by concerts of Russian musicin 1907, the opera Boris Godunov in 1908 and the first evenings dominated by ballet in 1909. But there was no company in 1909. In modern …

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The Scene is set

Massive progress on build this week but only 11 working days left and all the glass has yet to be fitted. There are over three hundred objects to install so the galleries must be handed over by 31 August. Above Geoffrey March, my co-curator stands in the area in which our Nijinsky material will be displayed. Work has begun on the lighting which, just like lighting in dance productions, will be critical to the overall effect. However, unlike a stage production, we have to ensure that the light levels do not damage sensitive costumes and watercolours. Just as expected the …

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