Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

Diaghilev's Ballets Russes

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This Blog is dedicated to preserving and celebrating the history and memories of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes, its legendary ballet dancers, choreographers, scenery artists, musicians and composers.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Anniversary of Serge Grigoriev's Passing

Serge Grigoriev was born October 5, 1883 in Russia and died in London on June 28, 1968. He studied at the St. Petersburg Imperial School, graduating in 1900, and danced with the Maryinsky Ballet until Diaghilev appointed him ballet master in 1909. Serge Grigoriev danced the classic ballets from the repertory of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes.

He became régisseur of the Ballets Russes on their first trip to Paris in 1909 and remained in that position for twenty years. Grigoriev was a friend of Mikhail Fokine, and Fokine recommended him to rehearse the ballets for the 1909 season. As a dancer he created the role of Shah Shariar in Fokine's Scheherazade (1910), Guidone in Fokine's Le Coq d'or (1914), and the Russian Merchant in Massine's La Boutique Fantasque (1919). Fokine however, left the Ballets Russes over issues with Nijinsky, but Grigoriev stayed.

After Diaghilev fired Vaslav Nijinsky he needed to rehire Fokine. Before he agreed to return, Fokine made many demands: to dance leading roles; that all of Nijinsky's ballets be dropped from the repertoire; and that Grigoriev and his wife, the ballerina Lubov Tchernicheva, be discharged from the company. He got everything but the termination of Grigoriev. Diaghilev got Fokine, Grigoriev and Tchernicheva to reconcile. Grigoriev remained with Diaghlev’s Ballets Russes until the death of Serge Diaghilev.

After the death of Diaghilev in 1929, the company disbanded; Grigoriev and his wife joined Colonel de Basil's Ballet Russe in 1932, restaging the original choreography of Diaghilev's repertoire and remaining until 1948. Working with his wife, Lubov Tchernicheva, he produced several Fokine revivals for Sadler's Wells/Royal Ballet: Firebird (1954), Les Sylphides (1955), and Petrushka (1957) and the Polovtsian Dances from Prince Igor (1965).

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Firebird - Premiered June 25, 1910

The Firebird is a 1910, neoclassical ballet with music by Igor Stravinsky and choreography by Michel Fokine. The ballet is based on Russian folk tales of the magical glowing bird of the same name that is both a blessing and a curse to its captor.

The music premiered as a ballet by Diaghilev's Ballets Russes in Paris on June 25, 1910 conducted by Gabriel Pierné. It was the first of their productions with music specially composed for them. Originally the music was to have been written by Russian composer Anatol Liadov but when he was slow in starting to compose the work, Diaghilev transferred the commission to the 28-year old Stravinsky. The ballet has historic significance not only as Stravinsky's 'breakthrough piece, but also as the beginning of the collaboration between Diaghilev and Stravinsky. They would later produce Petrushka and The Rite of Spring.

Firebird was to originally be danced by Anna Pavlova, but when she heard Stravinsky’s music she declared it “noise” and refused to dance to it. Tamara Karsavina was given the iconic role.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Aynsley Inglis, "For Lena" Rehearsal in NYC

The shawl in the dance, belonged to Madame Antonova (Lena). She was the wife of Leon Woizikowski and a member of Diaghilev's Ballets Russes from 1915. It was given to my daughter as a gift. The dancer is my daughter, Aynsley Inglis.

It is an homage to Lena and the Ballets Russes.

The piece was choreographed by Tony Award winning choreographer, Margo Sappington. It is being performed at the 2010 International Ballet Competition in Jackson, by my daughter who is a competitor there this week.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Daphnis Et Chloe - Premiered June 8, 1912

Daphnis et Chloe is a choreographic symphony in one act and three scenes, by Michel Fokine and Maurice Ravel. The décor and costumes were done by Leon Bakst. Daphnis et Chloe premiered at Theatre de Chatelet in Paris on June 8, 1912.

Maurice Ravel accepted a commission from Diaghilev to write Daphnis et Chloe, in 1909. He was slow to deliver, so Diaghilev sent him to St. Petersburg to work with Fokine and Bakst. The three men got along so well that it just extended the creative process and Ravel did not finish Daphnis et Chloe until 1912.
The idea itself for adapting the Longus pastoral tale for the stage was Fokine’s. His friend Isadora Duncan had influenced his interest in ancient Greece. The ballet was originally scheduled for the 1911 repertoire, but Narcisse was substituted when Daphnis et Chloe was not yet finished. When rehearsals for Daphnis et Chloe finally began in 1911, Diaghilev was completely distracted by Nijinsky’s L’Apres-Midi and Diaghilev’s lack of interest in Daphnis et Chloe was said to be the main reason for Fokine leaving the Ballets Russes Company in June of 1912, right after its premiere.
A few years later, in 1919, Ravel was commissioned again by Diaghilev to do La Valse, but they disagreed on the scenic concept, that topped with Massine’s departure led Diaghilev to abandon the ballet’s production. Ravel was so stunned by Diaghilev’s behavior that years later they ran into one another in the lobby of the Hotel de Paris in Monte Carlo, and Ravel would not shake hands with Diaghilev.