|Renown Russian art critic, patron, and ballet impresario,Sergei Diaghilev: michaelminn.net|
THE FIRST THREE decades of twentieth century dance were overshadowed by one man, Sergei Diaghilev (1872-1929), who was originally inspired by his step-mother’s singing. Enlisting in the St. Petersburg Conservatory of Music in his youth, he played the piano, sang, and studied composition, but he never conducted nor danced. Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov even told him he had no talent for music!
When he graduated in 1892, neither he nor his teachers were quite certain what he was, but he became the musical equivalent of a Field Marshall when he took his army, Les Ballets Russes, and descended on Le Theâtre du Châtelet in 1909 and took the City of Light by storm. His foot-soldiers, whom he commanded ‘to take Europe by surprise …,’ were led by the innovative choreographer Mikhail Fokine, and included Vaslav Nijinsky and his sister Bronislava, Tamara Karsavina, and later Serge Lifar and Olga Spesivtceva.
Diaghilev, with his multi-faceted artistic leanings, had veered towards Les Arts Plastiques and Paris was fertile ground: 'He sits down, screws his eyeglass, and exudes a beneficent cloud of inspiration,' wrote Vladimir Dulesky, whilst his company pioneered many new choreographies, astonishing sets and costumes that were in themselves works of art, many of which are in this commanding new exhibition at the V&A.
(Click here to read the full story on the Spears Magazine website.)