Monday, November 11, 2013

Ballet Russes

The Ballets Russes was established in 1909 by the Russian impresario Serge Diaghilev. The company was initially in resident at the Théâtre Mogador and Théâtre du Châtelet, in Paris and later moved to Monte Carlos. The company returned to Russia in 1910 and was presented in London as Diaghilev's Ballets Russes. Its' original members were from the Tsar's Imperial Ballet of St. Petersburg, Russia where all its dancers had been trained and danced. The company had thirteen original members, all of whom had an extremely high standard of dance. The company featured and premiered now-famous works by the great choreographers Marius Petipa, Michel Fokine, Bronislava Nijinska, Leonide Massine, Vaslav Nijinsky and a George Balanchine at the start of his career. Diaghilev's Ballets Russes became one of the most influential ballet companies of the 20th century, in part because of its ground-breaking artistic collaboration of choreographers, artists and composers. In 1916 Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes toured the United States for their first performance. Their first performance was in New York on January 17, 1916. After that performance they toured sixteen towns, dancing in a different place each evening. The tour wound up back in New York on April 3, 1916, at the Metropolitan Opera House. At the end of the U.S. tour the king of Madrid asked them to perform in Spain. On May 6th the company set sail for Europe in the middle of World War I. Even with the threat of U-Boats, the company arrived safely and their first performance in Madrid was on May 26, 1916 at the command of King Alfonso. On September 8, 1916 Diaghilev’s Ballets Russes set sail back to America for the second tour with Nicolas Kremnev acting as manager. Nijinsky had composed a new ballet to Strauss's “Till Eulenspiegel”. Its first performance was October 23, 1916. It was a failure. The season finished with a large financial loss and the company's reputation was so damaged that the Ballets Russes was never able to appear in American ever again. On July 26th, 1929, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes gave its final performance at Covent Garden Theatre in London. Diaghilev died in Venice, Italy, on August 19, 1929, and is buried on the nearby island of San Michele in the San Michele Cemetery. Following his death creditors took over and the dancers were scattered. The American Ballet, New York City Ballet, and San Francisco Ballet are all descendents of the original Diaghilev’s Ballet Russes.

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