Dance On Film ~ Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes: When Art Danced With Music
This special Dance on Film screening is in collaboration with the National Gallery of Art's current exhibition in Washington, D.C., "Diaghilev and the Ballets Russes, 1909-1929: When Art Danced With Music."
This film narrated by Tilda Swinton celebrates one of the most dazzling cultural enterprises of the twentieth century. The Ballets Russes, established in 1909 by the indefatigable impresario Serge Diaghilev, revolutionized the art of ballet. Combining Russian and Western traditions with a healthy dose of modernism, the company thrilled and shocked audiences with its powerful fusion of choreography, music, design and dance. Though it was based in Paris, the company toured throughout Europe, the United States and South America. Its influence continues to be felt today.
Diaghilev’s passion for the arts was matched by his ambition, charm, drive, and intellectual curiosity. Determined to make something extraordinary of his life, the young Diaghilev inaugurated Russia’s first art journal, Mir iskusstva (World of Art), in 1898 and began to sponsor Russian art both at home and abroad. But it was his establishment of the Ballets Russes in 1909 that broke new ground and radically changed the performing arts in Europe.
Diaghilev’s success depended primarily on his ability to identify and bring together the most creative artists of his day. Recognizing the vitality of contemporary art, he called upon Léon Bakst, Natalia Goncharova, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, and Giorgio de Chirico, among others, to create dynamic set designs and exquisitely decorated costumes that shared a unified aesthetic. They in turn brought the most important artistic developments of the early 20th century—including futurism, cubism, and surrealism—to the ballet stage. Diaghilev also commissioned ballet scores from innovative composers such as Igor Stravinsky, Sergei Prokofiev, and Erik Satie, and featured dancers noted for their technical brio, making the company a breeding ground for musical and choreographic innovation: Mikhail Fokine, Vaslav Nijinsky, Léonide Massine, Bronislava Nijinska, and George Balanchine all dramatically expanded the vocabulary of movement.
Read the New York Times review of the Diaghilev exhibit here.
Run time: 55 min.
The Dance on Film series is presented by the Bud Werner Memorial Library, Perry-Mansfield and Steamboat Dance Theatre. The free screening includes an introduction by dance history professor and Perry-Mansfield Executive Director Joan Lazarus.
About the film's commentator
Joan Lazarus served as Executive Director of Oakland Ballet, General Manger of Cowell Theater at Fort Mason Center, and Executive Director of WestWave Dance, an annual festival of new choreography presented in San Francisco. Joan has performed with or in the works of Alonzo King, Cliff Keuter, Ellen Bromberg, Victoria Morgan, Krissy Keefer, Frank Shawl, Bill DeYoung, Toni Pimble, Richard Colton and Alan Ptashek. She taught at the University of Oregon, Mills College, San Francisco Ballet, Dance Circle of Boston, The Princeton Ballet, RoCo Dance & Fitness, and Shawl-Anderson Dance Center, and co-authored the Dance Curriculum Guide adopted by the San Francisco Unified School District. She received Bay Area National Dance Week’s Contribution to the Field of Dance Award in 2006, and in 2012 she received an Isadora Duncan Dance Award for Sustained Achievement. Lazarus was named 2011 Dance MVP by the San Francisco Chronicle. Joan joined the staff at Perry-Mansfield in June 2012.
About Dance On Film
This 2013 Dance On Film series is presented by Bud Werner Memorial Library, Perry-Mansfield and Steamboat Dance Theatre. Perry-Mansfield celebrates its 100th anniversary as the oldest continuously operating arts camp in the United States this year. Steamboat Dance Theatre is a community dance organization presenting its 42nd annual concert March 20-22, 2014, in addition to year-round dance scholarships and education programs in Yampa Valley schools and throughout the community. This collaborative and educational dance film series features free screenings of the hottest new dance documentaries along with the finest classic dance films from a variety of genres filmed throughout the ages.
Image at top:
Léon Bakst costume design for Vaslav Nijinsky as the Faun, from L'Aprés-midi d'un Faune, 1912
graphite, tempera and/or watercolour with gold paint on illustration board
Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, Hartford, CT.
The Ella Gallup Sumner and Mary Catlin Sumner Collection Fund.