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, August 1, 2011

Serge Diaghilev-Ballet Impressario, Died August 19, 1929

Serge Diaghilev was a law student when he came to St. Petersburg. While there he became co-founder of the progressive art magazine Mir Iskusstva (The World of Art) in 1899. The same year he was appointed artistic adviser of the Maryinsky Theatre. He resigned this post in 1901 and when the magazine stopped publishing in 1904, and he concentrated on organizing exhibitions of Russian art in St. Petersburg and Paris. In 1908 he brought a production of Boris Godunov to Paris, with the famous singer, Feodor Chaliapin. In 1909, he brought to Paris a season of opera and ballet and, with the best dancers from the Maryinsky, and he scored a great success. Prior to 1909, an independent ballet company was almost unheard of. Most ballet companies were part of an opera company or was subsidized by the court or the ruling power. The Paris Opera was the home of the ballet, even in Russia the ballet was part of the opera. In 1909, when Diaghilev decided to bring a small company of dancers to Paris he did this by bringing the great opera star Chaliapin to share the program. Both people in Russia and Paris thought that he was crazy. Diaghilev struggled to get enough money for his Paris project. After the first season in Paris, he had to raise money again, during the dancers yearly time off. He had to get them back to St. Petrersburg before their season started.

After the innagural performance May 19, 1909, repeat visits in the following years resulted in the formation of the Ballets Russes in 1911 as an independent private company. The final season for Diaghilev's Ballets Russes was in 1929. Diaghilev died in Venice, Italy, on August 19, 1929, and is buried on the nearby island of San Michele.

Although Diaghilev reformed European ballet, his company was often on the verge of bankruptcy. He never returned to Russia after the 1917 revolution. In fact, Diaghilev's Ballets Russes never performed in Russia. With his infallible flair, and his immaculate taste he anticipated what the audiences wanted. Instead of a full-length ballets he gave them Aurora's Wedding, and the second act of Swan Lake, Les Sylphides, La Boutique Fantastique, Les Biches, Jeux, and many more.

Composer Alexander Galzunov's Birthday August 10th

Alexander Glazunov was born on August 10, 1865 in St. Petersburg, Russia and dies on March 21, 1936 in Paris, France. Glazunov studied privately with Rimsky-Korsakov from 1879 through 1881 and had his First Symphony performed when he was 16.

He wrote the music for three of Petipa ballets: Raymonda in 1898, the work for which he is best known, Les Ruses d'amour in 1900, and Les Saisons in 1900. George Balanchine used music from Raymonda for his Pas de dix (1955), Raymonda Variations (1961), and Cortège hongrois (1973). Choreographer Ashton, used selections from Glazunov's music for his Birthday Offering in 1956.

Gorsky choreographed his 5th Symphony in 1916, one of the world's first symphonic ballets. And more recently, Twyla Tharp used Glazunov's Scènes de ballet for The Little Ballet in 1984. Anna Pavlova danced Pandéros in the Petipa/Glazunov Raymonda, in Saint Petersburg, in 1910. Glazunov became a member of the circle around the patron Belyayev, who took him to meet Liszt in Weimar in1899. Glazunov was appointed to the St. Petersburg Conservatory, which he directed from 1905 until leaving the Soviet Union in 1928. Glazunov's life in exile, which included an unsuccessful tour of the United States, was difficult but did not suppress his creative energy. He traveled around the world for several years, eventually settling in Paris. Music composed during this period includes the Concerto-Ballata for Cello and Orchestra and the Concerto for Alto Saxophone and Strings, a standard work of the saxophone repertoire.

Lubov Egorova Born August 8, 1880 Died August 18, 1972

Lubov Egorova was born in St. Petersberg on August 8th, 1880. She graduated from the Imperial Ballet Academy in 1898, the same year as her classmate Mikhail Fokine. After graduation she joined the Maryinsky Theatre. After Nicolas Legat succeeded Marius Petipa, he used Lobov as Myrtha in Giselle. She gave her farewell performance at the Mariinsky Theatre 22 January 1917 in Swan Lake. She received great praise for the role and her performance caught the attention of Diaghilev.

In 1918, Diaghilev brought her to Paris to dance Princess Florine in Ballets Russes The Sleeping Beauty. There Lubov had the chance to be partnered by Vaslav Nijinsky. She is noted to have been overwhelmed by his artistry. Then in 1921, she danced Aurora in Diaghilev’s famous Sleeping Princess production in London. Her most important roles were the title role in Petipa's Blue Dahlia 1905, Myrtha in Giselle 1907, the title role in Raymonda 1910, Aurora in Sleeping Beauty 1911, Odette-Odile in Swan Lake 1913 and title role in Giselle 1914. She also danced Kitri in Don Quixote, the title role in Laurencia and Auspicia in Pharao’s Daughter.

Lubov married Prince Troubetsky, becoming Princess Nikita Troubetzkoy and began teaching ballet. She was a influential teacher in Paris 1923-1968, among her pupils where Serge Lifar and Anton Dolin. In 1937, she founded a small company called Ballets de la Jeunesse. In 1964, she was awarded the Chevalier de l'Ordre des arts et lettres.