Diaghilev and the Ballet Russes

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Serge Diaghilev (1872 – 1929) was a Russian ballet impresario and founder of the legendary Ballets Russes dance company. The work of the Ballets Russes revolutionised ballet and had a huge influence on 20th-century art, theatre, fashion and interior design.

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Diaghilev embraced the modern and exploited the avant-garde. He recruited composers, choreographers, designers and performers, including Mikhail Fokine, Léon Bakst and Vaslav Nijinsky, and left an astonishing legacy of music, dance and art, reflected in our collection of costumes, back-cloths, stage designs and photographs.

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Background image: Backcloth for 'The Firebird', designed by Natalia Goncharova, about 1926. Museum no. S.455-1980. © Victoria & Albert Museum, London